Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Walker: The GOP’s 2016 nominee?

After Mitt Romney’s crushing 2012 defeat, Republicans consoled themselves with the belief that they had a “deep bench” of future presidential candidates, said Jonathan Chait in “Unfortunately, a large number of them appear to be criminals.” Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is facing up to 30 years in prison on corruption charges. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie is sweating out a major federal investigation over the George Washington Bridge scandal. Now Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, “possibly the new front-runner in the wake of Christie’s demise,” has been implicated in a scandal of his own. Last week, a federal judge unsealed documents showing that state prosecutors had investigated whether Walker directed “a criminal scheme” to circumvent campaign-finance laws during his recall election in 2012. So, who’s next on the Republican roster?

Actually, Walker is not in any trouble whatsoever, said Gabriel Malor in The unsealed documents also show that both state and federal judges dismissed the prosecutors’ case, and ordered them to cease their baseless investigation. Liberals are attacking Walker—who successfully pushed through popular union reforms in Wisconsin—because they know he “could be a formidable contender for the White House in 2016.” But legality isn’t the only issue here, said Francis Wilkinson in BloombergView .com. Only a “certified dunce” would send an email indicating that a candidate was coordinating the work of 12 “independent” conservative groups—a violation of campaign-finance laws. Walker sent just such an email, even though he’s seen “six aides convicted for violating campaign laws.” Do Republicans really want to nominate a “numbskull”?

Walker does have his flaws, said Tim Alberta in He lacks charisma, and is “unremarkable in front of large crowds.” But his conservative credentials are impeccable: “He cut taxes; he opposes abortion; he turned a massive budget deficit into a surplus.” He also supports Second Amendment rights, and defeated organized labor. With a political profile so “perfectly attuned to his party’s right wing, presented in a way that doesn’t alienate the establishment,” Walker may just be the GOP’s likeliest nominee. One small problem, said Heather Digby Parton in Walker first has to win re-election as governor in November, and he and his Democratic challenger are in a dead heat. “If he loses this race, he can kiss 2016 goodbye.”
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