Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial, conservative policies might be vindicated after all. After a seesaw campaign in which Walker and his Democratic opponent Mary Burke each took the lead in the polls and fell behind in turn, the race is now extremely close, with a slight edge to Walker. Walker is perhaps best-known nationally for his clashes with the state’s public sector unions, occasioned by his successful attempt to eliminate several collective bargaining rights previously held by public employees.This time around Walker campaigned on that effort as well as other conservative policies enacted during his tenure, including income tax cuts, and vowed to restrict social programs if reelected. The WSJ has more:
Ms. Burke, 55, has staked out positions as a business-friendly Democrat whose professional career began while working for Wisconsin-based bicycle maker Trek Bicycle Corp., which her father started. She opposes school vouchers and restrictions on same-sex marriage, while criticizing Mr. Walker for refusing to accept federal money from the Affordable Care Act aimed at expanding health care to more low-income residents […]The race is considered a bellwether by some, with Republicans watching to see if Mr. Walker can win re-election after pushing a conservative agenda in a state that has consistently voted for Democratic presidential candidates for the past three decades. Organized labor is watching as well, targeting Wisconsin to show the stance taken by Mr. Walker on unions won’t win at the polls.
Walker isn’t the only one. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback still looks likely to lose to his opponent Paul Davis, but by a much narrower margin than initially expected. And North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan is managing only a small lead over Republican Thom Tillis, an architect of the state’s recent conservative education and tax policies. We’ve noted before that many of the more conservative incumbents up for reelection this season were facing much stiffer races than more moderate Republicans—even in traditionally Republican states like Kansas. That remains true, but if some of these races tilt Republican, the Red Dawn could very well continue. This would give the more “purple” approach taken by politicians like Ohio’s John Kasich continued ideological competition in the battle over the future of the GOP.