This post has since been updated.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is now the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. On the surface, Walker looks like a great choice. He is known as a fighter and a conservative reformer who can win elections. However, before conservatives hop on the Walker train, the bad aspects of Walker's record need to be examined. Below is a list of reasons why conservatives should reject Scott Walker. Spoiler alert: you may conclude that Walker is a flip flopper.
1. His soft/superficial opposition to Common Core.
We can see that by what Common Core legislation Walker did support during this year’s legislative session. It would have merely had a commission review Common Core and suggest changes to state Superintendent Tony Evers, a Democrat who signed Wisconsin into Common Core with the stroke of his pen months before Common Core was even published. Come to think of it, him signing Common Core before the public could see what was in it—that would qualify as Wisconsin having “standards set by people in Wisconsin.” Right? So nothing needs to change to meet Walker’s criteria. But some people might believe things had changed. How convenient.
2. He supported citizenship for illegals before he was against it.
"This is not a small thing that Scott Walker just did," says Frank Sharry of America's Voice, a group that advocates for immigrants and now is harshly critical of Walker after welcoming his rhetoric just two years ago.
"Now that Scott Walker is on the big stage, he has made it clear he is going to pander to the nativist right at the expense of being able to compete for Latino voters in the general election," Sharry said. "OK, he's made his choice. But he's going to have to live with it, and his party is going to have to live with it."
3. He supported Right-to-Work legislation when he ran for office and recently signed it into law. But in between those two events, he attempted to strong-arm the GOP-controlled state legislature into dropping it.
Speaking to the GOP members on Wednesday, Walker restated previous comments that the measure would only be a distraction from more important issues. “We’ve got a lot of big reforms to act on…we’ve got a lot of issues with entitlement reform and tax reform and other reforms we’ve talked about…a lot of things to do in both the Legislative session and the budget…and I just have the concern that sorts of issues, particularly early on, might distract from that work,” Walker said.
4. He issued an emergency order bypassing the legislature in order to implement ObamaCare, only to rescind it after pressure from conservative activists.
Last month, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker angered his supporters by signing an emergency rule to implement ObamaCare in the state. After the harsh public outcry, however, Walker has now withdrawn the emergency rule.
Originally, the Governor sought to implement ObamaCare in his state by way of Assembly Bill 210, which was sponsored by a Republican and which was easily passed on October 18 by 57-39 in the Republican-controlled Assembly. Next, Senator Frank Lasee made the dramatic announcement on November 1 that he, as Chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, was killing AB 210 by letting it die in his committee. In response, Walker then approved an emergency rule that bypassed the state legislature, accomplished the same purpose as AB 210, and thereby brought Wisconsin statutes into compliance with ObamaCare law.
5. His administration has helped sign people up for the ObamaCare exchanges.
In the meantime, Walker has encouraged state agencies to work with individuals to help them transition to coverage on the exchange. “Even though I’m obviously not a supporter (of Obamacare), I don’t want people to fall between the cracks,” he said.
Interestingly, though liberals have accused Republican governors of trying to sabotage Obamacare, Wisconsin is one of a small number of states where signups for health insurance through February tracked better than projected.
“At least for me, and probably other governors who are in a similar position, we’re not proponents of the law, but it is the law, and more importantly, until we can change and come up with something better to replace the law, we still care about our constituents, we still want people to do well,” he said. “A lot of people think that Republicans like me would want to sabotage the law by making it hard or difficult for people to sign up. I think that’s somewhat shortsighted by our critics, because what we care about more than anything are the people we represent.”
Walker has introduced a bill that would strip public employees across the board - from teachers to snowplow drivers - of their right to collectively bargain for sick leave, vacation, even the hours they work. But absolutely nothing would change for local police, fire departments and the State Patrol.
The bill smacks of political favoritism for public safety unions that supported Walker’s election bid last year and sets up new haves and have-nots in Wisconsin government, said Paul Secunda, a Marquette University professor who specializes in labor law.
"That’s called ’thank you, I got your back,’" Secunda said. "There’s no surprise there. This is the worst type of favoritism there could be."
7. He has endorsed crony-capitalism by way of providing $220 million in taxpayer money to finance an NBA stadium.
Calling his plan a "common-sense, fiscally conservative approach," Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday said new growth in income tax revenue from Milwaukee Bucks players, employees and visiting teams will generate enough money to cover debt payments on $220 million in state-issued bonds for a new arena.
Walker told members of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and media at a news conference that he would put the plan in his state budget next week.
Walker called it a "Pay Their Way" proposal.
8. He's a seemingly reluctant fighter on abortion.
“I’m still pro-life,” he added before dismissing how important the laws he signed were to voters. Defunding Planned Parenthood, he said, “gets some activists worked up, but taxpayers say ‘What’s the big deal there?’”
Last July, when Walker signed several pro-life bills, he did so without the fanfare that typically accompanies major bill signings. He signed the legislation behind closed doors the day after Independence Day, a Friday, when it was sure to get little media attention. His only announcement about the legislation was a generic tweet: “Spent the morning signing 18 bills into law.”
Walker’s downplaying of abortion has been more than rhetorical. Walker now seems to be backing away from support for several pro-life bills that may soon reach his desk. One would ensure that state taxpayer funds are not used to fund abortions for state employees and exempt religious entities from having to pay for health insurance coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs; another would outlaw sex-selection abortions; and another would allow for voluntary purchases of Choose Life specialty license plates, like those available in many states.
Having already passed the state assembly, these bills are being held up in the Republican-controlled Senate. The consensus from Wisconsin political observers is that Walker could easily get them passed in the Senate and to his desk for signing — if he made them a priority.
Pro-Life: Walker hired a pro-child killing spokesperson for his re-election bid, which ultimately led him to craft a campaign commercial that “Live Action” declared the wimpiest pro-life ad of 2014. Walker actually put the following into writing in his re-election campaign: “I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor. Now, reasonable people can disagree on this issue. Our priority is to protect the health and safety of all Wisconsin citizens.” Note there was nothing about the health and safety of the baby in there.
9. He opposed the ObamaCare-defunding efforts of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).
"I believe the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable, and will have a negative impact on the economy of my state," he said, adding that he would have preferred for it to have been blocked by the Supreme Court. "But I don’t extend that to the point that we should shut down the government over it."
"I support limited government," he added. "But I want the government left to work."
10. His administration has denied the right to conceal carry in state buildings in contradiction with state law.
Gov. Scott Walker's administration is barring openly carrying guns into state buildings, even for people with valid concealed carry permits.
The Republican governor's administration is also declining to say how many state employees have told their bosses that they'll be bringing concealed guns to work after the administration decided last month to allow that for valid permit holders.
The new policies all came in response to the state's new concealed carry law, which on Nov. 1 made Wisconsin the 49th state in the nation to let citizens carry hidden weapons.
"As a matter of policy, open carry will not be allowed in state buildings, thus any person openly carrying a weapon in a state building will be asked to leave," Department of Administration spokesman Tim Lundquist said in an email.
Around March of 2013, Walker started suggesting that opposition to gay marriage was “generational,” and that it was wiser for Republicans to focus on economic issues. And just this week, after the Supreme Court decided not to weigh in on on the decision striking down Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban, his administration announced they would recognize same sex marriages, going back to June.
12. He was against the renewable fuel standard before he was for it (in front of an Iowa audience).
He held steady, thanks in part to a flip-flop on ethanol.
The RFS requires that renewable fuels such as ethanol be blended with transportation fuel sold in the U.S - a mandate Walker has a history of opposing, according to news reporters in his home state. Ag boosters here don't want to lose the benefits, and Walker doesn't want to lose his lead. Perhaps that's a cynical way of looking at things, but when Rastetter asked Saturday, Walker said he supports the RFS' continuation.
Speaking to talk radio host Michael Medved, Walker said it was “incredibly important” for national security that the government retain the legal authority to collect Americans’ metadata en masse.
Walker said that he understands Paul’s concerns, but thinks that the problems with the surveillance programs are “specific to this president and this administration,” rather than issues with the law itself.
Without adjusting for this change, spending would actually increase by $3.09 billion - a jump of 4.4 percent.
In addition, the budget would also borrow $1.56 billion for transportation, a new Bucks arena and a couple smaller projects. Transportation bonding accounts for $1.30 billion of that borrowing, while the Bucks arena plan requires $220 million in bonding.
Once conservatives realize that Scott Walker is not a conservative firebrand, it is going to be difficult for Walker to differentiate himself from Jeb Bush and Chris Christie in the primary. Ultimately, his record of statements and actions cast a damper on his reputation...which leads to this question: Is Scott Walker the second-coming of George W. Bush?