Two years ago, several newly elected conservative Governors were planning their legislative agendas. When Gov. Scott Walker proposed his public sector collective bargaining reforms, the Left seemed giddy that a Governor in a purple state would make such a conservative proposal, thinking it would be easy to defeat him in his next election. However, the voters in the June 5, 2012 Recall election, rewarded his bold conservative reforms and the latest poll shows he remains very popular. Conservatives leaders, from Washington DC to state capitols, would be wise to seek similar bold conservative reforms.
The DailyKos recently remarked: “[a] couple years ago, it seemed like John Kasich and Scott Walker were the Midwestern Republican freshman governors whose days were numbered” while other freshman governors had “evaded most of the scrutiny and were out of the crosshairs.” Their post showed low approval ratings of a Governor who was not as aggressive as Gov. Walker in his policy proposals.
Meanwhile, a new Wisconsin poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and funded by Education Action Group, found that 55 percent of Wisconsinites approve of the job Gov. Walker is doing as Governor. That mark rises to 61 percent among independents. A slim plurality supports the collective bargaining changes 46-45 percent. So Gov. Walker continues to be very popular with the Wisconsin voters.
Washington DC leaders should be following Gov. Walker’s example. Instead, they compromised on the fiscal cliff bill that 7 out of 10 Republicans opposed and more Democrats voted for than Republicans. That compromise was supposed to allow them more leverage in the upcoming debt ceiling debate, yet I am doubtful that Beltway Republicans really have the guts to enact the much needed conservative reforms.
Conservatives need to welcome a debate on our terms and on our bold proposals that benefit taxpayers. For Gov. Walker, as his collective bargaining reforms took effect, the people saw that their property tax bills were reduced and sweetheart deals for public sector unions were gone. The Left brought the fight to him and forced a historic gubernatorial recall election. Gov. Walker not only became the first governor to survive a recall election, but he increased his winning margin from 2010.
Despite cutting President Obama’s win margin in Wisconsin in half from 2008 to 2012, Republicans lost the presidential race in Wisconsin by 7 points. But at the state level, Gov. Walker was sent more reinforcements to support his legislative ideas. Both bodies of the state legislature increased Republican majorities. In the Assembly, they gained one more Republican and replaced a RINO who had opposed the collective bargaining reforms with conservative Michael Schraa. In the State Senate, Republicans gained back one of the seats they lost in the summer 2011 recall elections. They also won a long time held Democratic seat. The result of these elections is a more conservative state legislature than Gov. Walker had when he was first elected in 2010.
Moderation and brokering poor compromises are not a winning formula. Bold conservative proposals are. Beltway Republicans need to look outside of their bubble to what is actually working. Wisconsin and Gov. Scott Walker show the path forward: Be Bold or Go Home.
Matt Batzel is the Wisconsin State Director for American Majority Action.