Walker donors surprised he dropped out

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Shocked’ : Scott Walker’s Iowa Allies Mull Next Steps.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Scott Walker returned to work Tuesday with three years left on his term as Wisconsin’s governor, time that he’ll likely need to recover from the blow of a failed run for the White House. NEW YORK • Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whose early glow as a Republican presidential contender was snuffed out with the rise of anti-establishment rivals, is quitting the race and urging some of his 15 rivals to do the same so that the party could unite against leading candidate Donald Trump. In the hours after Walker’s abrupt exit from the Republican race for president, forced out by pallid fundraising and poll numbers that had crashed to less than 1 percent, his most ardent supporters were already predicting he’d bounce back.

She went on to say that voters appear largely hungry for a candidate outside of the political establishment, explaining Donald Trump’s and Ben Carson’s surge in recent polls. “[Walker] has been an elected official all of his life,” said MSNBC.com senior editor Beth Fouhy. “He tried to be an outsider but nobody bought it.” But Super PACs, which can accept unlimited sums, were expected to change that equation. “Wealthy patrons might keep their favorite picks aloft through independent spending,” The Washington Post speculated in April. But to do so, Walker will need to rebuild his base of support in Wisconsin — a place where he’s spent little time since kicking off his campaign in July. Still, his exit was not a selfless sacrifice: He was running low on campaign cash, sliding sharply in opinion polls, losing potential donors to rivals and unnerving supporters with a stream of gaffes, like saying he would consider building a barrier wall along the Canadian border. Appearing ashen and drained at a brief news conference on Monday, Mr Walker said the Republican presidential field was too focused on “how bad things are” rather than on “how we can make them better for everyone”.

In the wake of Walker’s exit, the campaigns of former Florida governor Jeb Bush and current Florida senator Marco Rubio have crowed about their success in picking up former Walker supporters. In Walker’s case, roofing billionaire Diane Hendricks gave the Unintimidated super PAC $5 million, according to the group’s July report to the Federal Election Commission.

And it has left the governors and senators still in the turbulent Republican race scrambling to adapt to a political environment rewarding those with the least governing experience. But I suppose unless something drastic changes, during the next cycle there is a possibility that candidates could become just a prop while these “unaffiliated, non-coordinating entities” run a campaign around the candidate who just putters around by him or herself. But caucus experts say that, in Iowa, the lion’s share of the strong 99-county organization that Walker cultivated might be more likely to get snapped up by a GOP hopeful less associated with the party’s establishment. “I think it’s a mistake, especially in Iowa, to think that the people who were supporting Walker will drift towards other establishment candidates,” said Craig Robinson, editor-in-chief of The Iowa Republican. “When he got into the race, he was the conservative alternative to Jeb Bush… they’re still looking for that conservative alternative to whoever the front runner is.” State Representative Dean Fisher, who supported Walker and has not decided whom he’ll support next, agreed with that idea. On paper, he looked great — a governor elected multiple times in a blue state, even surviving a recall, with a record of conservative achievements in office. Walker has spent more time out of the state, and I’ve heard some complaints about that, I’m not going to lie,” said Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. “But I think many of those will fall by the wayside as he re-engages with Wisconsin.” Walker made his mark in Wisconsin by steamrolling Democratic opponents to push through Republican priorities such as banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, requiring voters to provide photo identification and making Wisconsin a right-to-work state.

Fisher told NBC News that he “didn’t see [Walker] as an establishment candidate,” but rather as a “breath of fresh air” who would take on Washington D.C. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina are also attracting voters eager to express their anger with Washington. More Republicans voted against the state budget this year than any other during Walker’s time in office, and it was approved a week late — delaying the official launch of his presidential campaign. Walker endorser State Senator Julian Garrett also has not chosen a new candidate to back— though he, like others, has received several phone calls from different campaigns over the past 24 hours. I will still claim, however, that at least as of last week, Walker was a more likely choice for the GOP nomination than Donald Trump, Ben Carson, or Carly Fiorina.

Two Republican lawmakers derided the spending plan, which cut funding for the University of Wisconsin by $250 million and held public K-12 school funding basically flat, as “crap.” As a candidate, Walker also emphasized disagreements he had with some of those Republican lawmakers when successfully curbing the union bargaining rights of state workers in 2011. In the peculiar argot of campaigns, this is known as “hard money.” To raise it, candidates spend countless hours on the phone—flattering, listening, cajoling, begging—and fly around the country, offering personal contact at fundraising events in exchange for cash, or woo bundlers to round up the donations for them. Less than an hour after Walker dropped out, State Representative Terry Baxter was prominently introduced at a Bush town hall event in Mason City, Iowa. Republicans voters’ apparent desire for a political novice is striking given that conservatives have long attributed some of what they see as President Barack Obama’s weaknesses to his inexperience when he took office.

Super PACs are not required to return money to donors, says Paul Ryan, senior counsel of the Campaign Legal Center. “There are no rules on this,” he told MarketWatch. He and others in Wisconsin said they expect Walker will try to continue to influence the national political debate as governor, focusing on tax and entitlement reforms in the next few years.

But Ryan added: “It would be wise to give money back to wealthy donors who ask for it because serious political professionals want to maintain relationships, not waste [donors’] money.” Other campaigns are now courting Walker’s biggest donors, The Wall Street Journal writes. He did not take questions from reporters Monday night after announcing he was suspending his campaign, and his office spokeswoman said he was not available for questions Tuesday. As traditional candidates among the current GOP contenders try to break through, they’re employing a two-track strategy: distance themselves from Washington’s political elite while also building a campaign that can outlast voters’ discontent if the anti-establishment mood ultimately fades. And, the Supreme Court’s naiveté notwithstanding, Super PACs have proven remarkably adept at working in tandem with campaigns, even when they are technically complying with elections laws. (And with the deadlocked FEC unable to enforce those laws, it’s not clear that many are bothering.) But it turns out that there are some things that Super PACs can’t do. A Republican with ties to the organization, who was not authorized to speak for Walker and spoke on condition of anonymity, said other 2016 candidates were busy trying to hire his staff.

An incumbent governor has a reliable Rolodex of contributors, and the campaign should have been able to properly anticipate the fundraising and prepare a budget accordingly. For the most part, I believe running for president is never a bad career move unless you run up a debt or do something that sticks you with an unflattering caricature.

Kasich has pushed the GOP to do more to address poverty, mental illness and drug addiction, and he created an alternative to party leaders’ spending plans while serving in Congress. “You can either say you’re a change agent and have nothing to show for it but talk, or you can say you’re a change agent and have proof and results that have worked,” Kasich spokesman Scott Milburn said. As Walker regrouped privately Tuesday, some of Walker’s supporters noted it’s not unprecedented for Republicans who fail the first time they run for president to come back stronger the next go round. But he’s a smart enough politician to see that probably wouldn’t have succeeded, and he’d have been humiliated in the early primaries and caucuses and just angered some donors who would have seen him as a waste of money.

Perry, for example, raised only $1.1 million when he last disclosed his tally on June 1, and had stopped paying his staff by the time he dropped out in early September. Bush and Mitt Romney. “He’s a young guy, and he’ll be relevant in our party for many, many years,” said Anthony Scaramucci, a New York-based investor and one of Walker’s national finance co-chairmen. An inexperienced politician can easily be snowed by a consultant who tells him that the silent majority are behind him even if they’re not showing up in the polls just yet. But once they take the helm of a Super PAC, they’re legally barred from offering the trusted counsel and honest feedback that earned them their positions.

On Sunday, the former first lady, senator and secretary of state tried to pitch herself as an outsider, too. “I cannot imagine anyone being more of an outsider than the first woman president,” Clinton said in an interview with CBS’ “Face The Nation.” Walker’s campaign, however, serves as a cautionary tale for experienced candidates trying to earn outsider bona fides. Unlike Walker and Perry, who struggled to build sustainable campaigns, some of the more traditional candidates are banking on building organizations that will still be standing if the electorate’s mood does indeed shift. But if the impact of Super PACs has been both widely exaggerated and more mixed than expected, they may still end up playing a critical role in the 2016 election. But as the field narrows, and the campaign’s focus moves from state fairs and VFW lodges to the airwaves, billionaire donors may yet have an outsize impact on the outcome of the race.

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