July 15, 2015 — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took to Twitter and the Internet Monday to announce his presidential candidacy, becoming the 16th Republican to officially enter the national campaign. Two more expected entrants, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and ex-Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, will likely round out the field in early August.
The current list includes 15 Republicans who will likely qualify for the ballot in all states, and one, former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, who likely won’t. This means 17 Republicans will be vying for the presidential nomination in a fight that could go all the way to the convention in Cleveland a year from now.
Perhaps signaling the type of campaign he intends to run, Gov. Walker sought to create a clear contrast between himself and the rest of the GOP field. Walker’s theme of being “conservative, bold, and decisive” was highlighted in his announcement video that stressed his gubernatorial record, the fights with Big Labor, and winning three statewide Wisconsin elections in four years. The context reminds viewers that the new presidential candidate successfully defended himself from a strong recall movement, saying that, “ … in the Republican field, there are some good fighters but they haven’t won those battles. There are others who have won elections but haven’t consistently taken on the big fights. We showed you can do both.”
Largely because the media intensely covered his defining actions in Wisconsin, Walker consistently led early polling. At or near the top of the huge field despite not becoming an official candidate until now while doing very little to remain in the national public eye during the preceding several months, tells us that the governor has national staying power, something he will surely need if he is to advance.
Gov. Walker was first elected Wisconsin’s chief executive in 2010, after serving two terms as Milwaukee County Executive and spending nine years in the state Assembly. He defeated Milwaukee mayor and former congressman Tom Barrett (D) 52-46 percent in 2010; 53-46 percent, again over Barrett in the recall election; and scored another 52-46 percent victory against businesswoman and Madison School Board member Mary Burke last year. Gauging the interest in the recall campaign and the level of activity that each party put forth, 356,000 more people voted in the secondary election than in the regular campaign that Walker originally won – an extraordinary statistic.
The open Hoosier State US Senate campaign became more interesting with reports that Rep. Todd Young (R-IN-9) has officially entered the statewide race. Though he has a “major political event” scheduled for this coming Saturday, July 18, that was presumed to feature an official announcement, Rep. Young publicly confirmed over the weekend that he will enter the Senate contest.
Becoming now the first candidate to raise $1 million for this race, his congressional account possesses more than $2 million cash-on-hand. All of the money is transferable to his new US Senate race. During the same 2nd quarter period, Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN-3) raised approximately $600,000, while former Indiana Republican Party chairman Eric Holcomb managed to secure only in the $200,000 neighborhood.
Some analysts believe that Young and Holcomb splitting the more establishment Republican and conservative vote will be a great help to the Tea Party-aligned Rep. Stutzman, thus allowing him to slip past the others and snatch the nomination. For this scenario to occur, Holcomb will have to perform in stronger fashion than he has to date.
So far, the lone Democrat in the Indiana Senate race is former Rep. Baron Hill, the man Young unseated 52-42 percent in 2010 to claim southeastern Indiana’s 9th CD. The eventual GOP nominee will be favored in the general election. The seat is open because incumbent Sen. Dan Coats (R) is retiring.