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The GOP's Red Dawn
Scott Walker’s Deep Donor List

Here’s yet another strength of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, until now 2016’s most under appreciated candidate: an unusually good donor list for someone in his position. When Walker was faced with a recall challenge in 2012, he made contacts with wealthy national donors who supported his stance against collective-bargaining rights for public sector unions (the very stance that precipitated that recall election in the first place). He has kept in contact with those donors ever since, bolstering his chances in 2016. The Washington Post reports:

“The recall provided him with a really interesting opportunity, because he made so many connections nationally with so many donors,” said Chart Westcott, a Dallas-based hedge fund executive, who introduced Walker at the breakfast fundraiser held last month at his parents’ home in Indian Wells. “He already has this base of people who have given him six figures in the past. Not a lot of the other candidates have a national network like that.” […]

“It’s a tremendous political asset and strength for him,”[former Minnesota Gov. Tim] Pawlenty said in an interview this week. “He has something I didn’t have. Because of the recall and his good work in Wisconsin, he’s got one of the largest direct-mail and Internet donor bases in the country and very established relationships with major donors. That’s going to allow him to raise a competitive amount of money to ride out the inevitable highs and lows of the campaign.”

Walker has a record of beating his enemies—and shrewdly, he continues to take on new ones that the GOP base dislikes (most recently higher ed, and those who defend its status quo). As Michael Brendan Dougherty put it, “Walker didn’t try to charm Wisconsin’s liberal establishment with some Kenny G-soft-jazz conservatism; he threw liberals into a dark cramped room and turned Metallica up to 11.” That kind of record appeals to conservatives, and it, combined with a strong donor base, makes a strong argument that he will do well in 2016, nominee or not.

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  • wigwag

    “Walker has a record of beating his enemies—and shrewdly, he continues to take on new ones that the GOP base dislikes (most recently higher ed, and those who defend its status quo).” (Via Meadia)

    Whoever drafted this article is remarkably naive about political fundraising. Yes, Walker can raise plenty of money from grassroots Republicans who righty despise the position of GOP elites on the Common Core, high stakes testing and the contamination of “No Child Left Behind” (and Obama’s version, “Race to the Top”)

    But whatever the press would have you believe, there hasn’t been a victorious presidential candidate in decades who has financed his campaign with small gifts from his party’s base. That includes Barack Obama who raised tons of money from grassroots democrats, but far more for his hordes of bundlers.

    Here’s a newsflash for Via Meadia, GOP elites love the Common Core and all of the educational policies that GOP grassroots types hate. Jeb Bush practically invented the Common Core; the Chris Christie led Republican Governors Association was its biggest advocate. The love fest is bipartisan; Democratic elites love precisely the same education policies as Republican elites do.

    If he opposes the common core, the donors who matter in the Republican Party won’t provide Scott Walker with a red cent; all of their money is already destined to go to Jeb Bush or Chris Christie (though some might flow to Rick Perry (who is a lot smarter than he comes across).

    If he is to secure the nomination, Walker will have to do it while being out raised by Bush and Christie probably about 20-1. Is it possible? Just possibly. Is it probable? Almost certainly not.

    Here’s the other problem for Scott Walker; he has about the same chance of defeating Hillary Clinton as Professor Mead does of starring in the next Spider Man film. Some things just don’t happen unless the earth is sucked into a black hole and reemerges in a bizarro universe.

    That’s what it would take for Scott Walker to be the next President of the United States.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Your analysis of the GOP nomination race (specifically the position of the elites vs the base) is quite solid, but I am not sure that your conclusions are correct. If it was simply a matter of money, Rudy Guliani would have been the a GOP nominee, as well as Romney in 2008. For that matter, Ms. Clinton would have been the Dem candidate in 2008, and we wouldn’t be talking about her now. In a presidential race, money, particularly early money, doesn’t really guarantee much, though it certainly never hurts. The GOP elites may not care for Walker, but I don’t see them going down in flames if he continues to show strength (certainly a very big ‘if’) in the primaries, riding an imploding Jeb or Chris campaign. Ultimately big money donors are opportunists (we saw this in 2008, as Hilliary collapsed and her big donors deserted that sinking ship), and follow the strong horse, not some abstract principle. I wouldn’t be shocked if your conclusions turn out to be correct (certainly the GOP has a bad record of nominating deracinating time-servers who the base abhors), but Walker has an excellent record of beating the odds, and he gives me hope.
      As for presidential race itself, if the GOP can produce a solid candidate (i.e. NOT Bush or Christie), I rather doubt that Hilliary (if indeed she runs at all) will do very well. She is a terrible campaigner, has no real message (other than “I have a vagina!”), and is viewed with outright loathing by a significant fraction of the electorate. Certainly she has strengths as well (great fundraising, name recognition – though I suggest that cuts both ways in her case -, etc.), but those things were true in 2008 as well, and she lost out to a relative unknown of questionable province. To be sure none of this takes into account black swans, which could render all of our speculation moot…

    • FriendlyGoat

      I believe you recently pointed out that people such as Chamber of Commerce Republicans may likely place their bets on a Bush/Kasich ticket to simply capture the election with Florida and Ohio, attempting to disregard everything else. It’s hard to not suspect that Romney already dropped out for this reason and that Walker and the others will eventually flounder for the same reason.

      Of course, I’m on the other side for all the ideological differences in governance between the parties—-the biggest being on high-end tax cuts and Court nominees. But Democrats had better figure out how to not lose FL, OH and PA, because that’s the ball game.

    • Presbyton

      The point of this article is that Walker does have a huge donor network of well-monied people to draw on, just like Bush.

    • Angel Martin

      i don’t pretend to know what Walker’s ultimate prospects are, but i do know that the oil and financial services industries that fund the GOP could care less about common core – it has no financial impact on them

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