Within a crowded field of potential GOP presidential hopefuls, early polling has largely focused on the likeliest candidates. For many supporters of one popular Republican governor, however, there is one name conspicuously absent from the conversation.
Though Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has made no announcement suggesting his intention to throw his hat in the ring ahead of the 2016 election cycle, advocates in his state and beyond believe such a run would benefit the arduous nomination process. Nevertheless, political advocates like Political Hype’s Mary Anna Mancuso acknowledge that Walker has some serious hurdles to clear on the path to front-runner status.
She cited a lack of name recognition as well as a dearth of foreign policy experience as two hindrances. Mancuso also suggested he lacks the charisma needed to inspire voter support.
“At the end of the day,” she said, “as a candidate you have to be able to energize your base and turn out the vote. Voting wins elections; and if a presidential candidate lacks charisma, they’ll have a tough time convincing Americans to vote for them.”
Mancuso conceded, however, that there are plenty of reasons to support a candidate with Walker’s values and background.
“Walker is a commonsense conservative with an expansive fundraising network and a proven track record of getting things done when the odds are stacked against him,” she asserted, noting that he has had great success raising money in a state that does not traditionally embrace conservative values.
While Mancuso believes that Walker’s support is most densely concentrated among social conservatives, others believe his appeal extends to the entire Republican Party.
“I don’t think any in the GOP dislike him,” said Brandon Scholz, a partner at the Madison-based Capitol Group. “They may not agree on a position he takes, but that doesn’t get them anywhere near dislike.”
In fact, some see his ability to appeal to voters in his Democrat-leaning state as one of his biggest attributes.
“My sense is that Republicans in 2016 will want to run a candidate like Scott Walker or Chris Christie,” predicted John Boyd Jr., principal of The Boyd Company Inc.
The corporate and political consultant believes these two candidates have proven they “can get elected and govern in a blue state,” though he admits Walker will fight an uphill battle.
“While Scott Walker will enjoy support in the business community,” Boyd said, “at the end of the day, it’s about star power,” a metric by which he falls short when compared to Christie and others in the field.
For Scholz, though, Walker’s proven ability to surpass expectations makes him a possible national candidate it would be unwise to dismiss.
He confirmed that “with three elections in four years” under his belt, “it’s hard for people in Wisconsin and around the country not to notice him.”
Looking at Walker’s chances from the perspective of a history professor, Christopher Kline sees a number of attributes that make his an attractive option for many voters.
“I think he will distinguish himself in two ways,” he explained. “First, he will appear to be a fighter due to his defeat of the recall effort, which will assist him in multiple ways – including durability. Second, I think he will point to his reforms within the state of Wisconsin – specifically the labor reforms.”
Though Kline identified Walker’s appeal among anti-establishment Republicans, he acknowledged that such a distinction “is not a good thing when you do not have a clear frontrunner as many potential candidates are making it known they are not a part of the establishment.”
One thing almost everyone involved in the process can agree on, it seems, is that it is still far too early to count anyone out.
“The election is a long way off,” Scholz said. “To eyeball a prospective challenge at this point isn’t important.”