While I have not endorsed a candidate for president, I knew who I planned to vote for the Republican nomination in 2016 since 2012.
I attended the CPAC conference that year and got to see the then-embattled governor of Wisconsin make an appeal to conservatives while he was in the midst of a recall battle thanks to Democrats who were unhappy by the results of the democratic process.
Scott Walker delivered a great speech during one of the CPAC banquets, sharing with those in attendance the fight that he undertook in Wisconsin against the powerful unions and challenged conservatives to join the battle, not just for his sake but to stop the expensive electoral shenanigans in its tracks and repudiate the gutter tactics the Left had utilized that in some instances were akin to acts of domestic terrorism (I highly recommend Walker’s book Unintimidated, which lays out the abuse he and his family were subjected to during the collective bargaining legislation debate and the recall vote).
I have voted for Walker in every presidential straw poll since. Here was a conservative who not only had the courage to fight but the political acumen to win on tough terrain.
Thanks to the recall, Walker possessed a national donor database that should have rivaled any other GOP candidate not named Bush or Paul.
While the other candidates were running on CSPAN speeches, niche issues, rhetorical grandstanding and celebrity, Walker was a candidate with a hard earned conservative track record and backbone.
He was practically a folk hero- receiving a standing ovation at the 2012 Republican National Convention the moment he stepped on to the podium.
Yet surprisingly enough, Walker is the second announced candidate to depart the race, even before candidates with much lower profiles and limited fundraising networks.
There was an omen that something was up in Walker land when he immediately went after Donald Trump in the presidential debate at the Reagan Library.
And like everyone aside from Carly Fiorina thus far, going after the billionaire real estate developer proved about as wise as wrestling with a cactus as Trump slapped him back with a rejoinder about his poll number crash in Iowa.
Trump was one of the main reasons Walker had to pull the plug on his candidacy as The Donald has consumed most of the free media oxygen, which in a highly divided field asphyxiated Walker in the press and in the polls.
Had Trump not jumped into the race, Walker would still be around. Looking at the composite poll data in Iowa, Walker had, what Trump would call, a “tremendous” lead from April to mid-July.
And then Trump began to dominate the airwaves through bombastic statements and free helicopter rides at the Iowa State Fair (or rather news of free helicopter rides) and the numbers began to reverse. Everyone’s numbers fluctuated mildly with Trump’s rise in the Hawkeye State while Walkers diminished drastically.
Walker did not help his own case through his lack of stage presence at the two debates, as he was eclipsed by practically everyone from Trump on down.
Part of Walker’s problem was that he jumped in the race late, sending out an interminable number of e-mails to potential donors asking if he should run, when a Walker presidential candidacy was considered a forgone conclusion the second after he was re-elected governor of Wisconsin in 2014.
Instead of playing an insincere game of Hamlet, Walker could have been building a network.
Walker also brought into his campaign establishment political operatives who were not friendly to conservative grassroots activists and I would suspect were expensive.
Walker’s inability to bide his time like Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee could be an indication that he was burning through campaign cash on overhead at an unsustainable rate. We’ll find out shortly as the political consultant piranha tear into each other through leaked stories in the upcoming weeks.
Once the consultaratti finish off your cash, they go for your flesh because the fault ALWAYS lies with the candidate and NEVER the professional staffers, who were shopping resumes before the campaign reached room temperature.
Walker closed out his presidential run with a call for the “conservative candidate consolidation” process to begin sooner than later in order to head off the Trump effort, perhaps exhibiting concern about the prospect of his nomination or expressing bitter resentment towards the man who “trumped” his Iowa gambit.
One thing is certain: the man with the most talked about hair in the history of presidential politics just claimed his first scalp.