Will Scott Walker Go to Washington?

Our governor is paving the way to presidency
Will Scott Walker Go to Washington?
Gov. Scott Walker is trying to break through in Washington.

Normal people won’t mark their calendar with this event, but in case you were wondering, the Iowa caucus is one year from now.

This matters for us in Wisconsin. Our governor, Scott Walker, has been laying the groundwork for some time to make a run for the White House. If anyone reading this is in doubt of his ambitions for the presidency, here’s a quick review of some key events from the last year or so:

Wrote his own book (Unintimidated).

Traveled widely and cultivated big campaign donors outside of Wisconsin.

Made the TIME magazine list of the most influential people for 2014 and attended a star-studded gala in New York with the likes of Pharrell Williams and Rupert Murdoch, where he raised a toast in honor of mothers, including his own.

Weighed in publicly on hot topics of national interest, including the Ebola outbreak and immigration.

Appeared on the Sunday talk show Meet the Press following his November reelection. Sample quote: “Governors make much better presidents.”

If Walker has demonstrated one thing, it’s that he wants to make an impression on the national stage. If he fails to make a strong and lasting impact on GOP voters, he runs the risk of being 2016’s version of Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who faded out after being viewed as one of the favorites in the early days of the 2012 campaign.

This is where state politics come in. Every politician seeking national office slams Washington. As he moves along the yellow brick road toward a presidential run, Walker will do the same. He’ll get to make his case with help from the Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature, which could be a willing partner in his effort to tell voters that the Wisconsin way of doing things is superior to business as usual in Washington.

Walker and GOP legislative leaders say they have an “aggressive” agenda for this session. It’s one that sends shivers down the spines of beleaguered Wisconsin Democrats but could prompt GOP primary voters in places like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to give Walker a look over better-known would-be candidates like Rand Paul and Chris Christie, let alone the rest of what is expected to be a huge field.

What’s on the menu? More tax cuts, expanding the school voucher program to more cities and requiring food stamp recipients to pass a drug test before receiving benefits. What isn’t? Don’t expect to see Walker publicly push for making Wisconsin a right-to-work state or other volatile legislation that could bring throngs of protesters back to the Capitol.

The catch is that the state legislature became more conservative with the last election. “I’m thinking there won’t be as many people questioning things, so we’ll probably pass more of that stuff faster,” Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the November election.

And that means Republican law-makers could decide to send Walker bills that he would prefer not to sign as he looks ahead to winning over, rather than alienating, general election voters in swing states like Florida, Ohio … and Wisconsin.