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Walker, Don’t Run to the Presidential Race

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 13: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks during the NRA's Celebration of American Values Leadership Forum at the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits April 13, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. More than 60,000 people are expected to attend the convention, which runs through Sunday. Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum are all scheduled to speak.
National Journal
Josh Kraushaar
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Josh Kraushaar
Oct. 30, 2013, 7:40 a.m.

It’s a polit­ic­al haz­ard to start think­ing about a pres­id­en­tial race while you still have your day job. Ask Mitt Rom­ney, whose ap­prov­al rat­ings plummeted as he plot­ted a 2008 pres­id­en­tial cam­paign. Or Louisi­ana Gov. Bobby Jin­dal (R), whose sky-high pop­ular­ity dropped as he spent more time away from Louisi­ana. Former Geor­gia Gov. Roy Barnes (D) of­ten drew com­par­is­ons with Bill Clin­ton — that is, be­fore he was blind­sided in a 2002 reelec­tion up­set against Sonny Per­due.

— That’s the situ­ation that Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walk­er (R) is in, as he faces an­oth­er reelec­tion cam­paign (sans re­call) while his name is reg­u­larly be­ing touted as pres­id­en­tial tim­ber. His new book, “Un­in­tim­id­ated: A Gov­ernor’s Story and a Na­tion’s Chal­lenge” is de­signed to en­hance his na­tion­al pro­file, but it’s un­likely to con­vince Wis­con­sin voters that he’s com­mit­ted to serving out a full second term.

— Don’t as­sume Walk­er is a shoo-in for reelec­tion. In­stead of ca­ter­ing to the base, Dems re­cruited a mod­er­ate busi­ness­wo­man, Trek Bi­cycle ex­ec­ut­ive Mary Burke, who has the abil­ity to self-fin­ance a cam­paign. A new Mar­quette Law School poll shows just how com­pet­it­ive the race could be. Walk­er’s job ap­prov­al rat­ing is at 49%, and he nar­rowly leads the little-known Burke, 47-45%.

— To be sure, Walk­er is a very in­triguing dark-horse pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate for 2016. He’s an ex­ec­ut­ive with a re­cord of prin­cipled con­ser­vat­ive gov­ernance in a Demo­crat­ic-lean­ing state. Un­like the con­ser­vat­ive rhet­or­ic of a Ted Cruz, Rand Paul or Marco Ru­bio, he can point to tan­gible ac­com­plish­ments. He’s one of the few pro­spect­ive can­did­ates who could gen­er­ate tea party ex­cite­ment along with boast­ing es­tab­lish­ment cred.

But Walk­er has to get to the start­ing line first. And if he takes his reelec­tion for gran­ted in the face of a cred­ible Demo­crat­ic chal­lenger, that would be a re­cipe for trouble.

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