Scott Walker Hung Out to Dry?

Scott Walker Hung Out to Dry?

Politico’s article on the dust-up between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker – currently running neck and neck with his Democrat challenger Mary Burke – and the head of the Republican Governor’s Association, Chris Christie, has Walker sounding bitter that Christie won’t cut money loose for the Wisconsin battle:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he needs more help from the national GOP in his reelection fight — and an upcoming visit from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie isn’t going to cut it.

Speaking with reporters after a morning campaign stop here, Walker said he is getting outspent on television and faces overwhelming hostility from national Democratic groups and labor unions.

Asked if he was satisfied with the support he’s received from national Republicans, Walker indicated he hopes to get more backup from the Republican Governors Association. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who chairs the RGA, is coming to campaign for Walker this week — but the Wisconsin Republican said he’s “not looking for surrogates.”

“[Christie] is coming because he asked if he could come and we weren’t going to say no,” Walker said. “But we’re not looking for surrogates. The people that have been campaigning with me are by and large from Wisconsin.”

Politico describes a spat between Walker and the RGA over exactly how much money has been promised and spent in the Wisconsin governor’s race, a topic the Washington Post reviewed in greater detail:

The RGA has, in fact, spent a boatload of money on Walker’s behalf, including $5.2 million during his 2010 run for office, $8.9 million during his 2012 recall, and $8 million so far this year. In the last few weeks, the RGA has committed an additional $1.3 million to advertisements.

And so far, Republicans are actually outspending, and out-advertising, Democrats on the air. While Walker cites estimates from the Center for Public Integrity, which shows Democrats spending more, figures made available by sources with knowledge of the actual advertising marketplace say Republicans — Walker’s campaign and outside groups included — have spent $20 million on television ads this year, more than the $16.4 million Burke and her allies have spent (CPI uses estimates, while professional advertising buyers have access to more reliable data that shows how much airtime campaigns and outside groups have actually purchased).

On the other hand, last Friday the Weekly Standard ran an article disputing the RGA’s claims of enhanced funding for the Wisconsin race, essentially claiming that the RGA had originally promised to spend about twice as much as they’re actually putting into the race:

Our “GOP source with knowledge of RGA spending” told us: “We have another $4-5 million in TV ad time reserved for these last two weeks.” So if the RGA is committing to just $2 million now – that’s not an increase over their original amount, as RGA officials told the Post, it would appear to be a significant reduction.

What’s more, Wisconsin GOP sources dispute the RGA’s claim to have spent $6 million to date, putting the figure at closer to $3 million.

We’ll have more clarity on this spending after the election, when final FEC reports are published. But even if we accept the RGA’s new claim to the Post at face value–that they’ll spend “$8 million in total in Wisconsin” by the end of the campaign–the RGA is now conceding that they are spending more on Michigan ($10 million to date) than Wisconsin.

The obvious questions: Is the RGA reducing its planned spending in one of the highest-profile and tightest gubernatorial contests in the country? If so, why? And why would the RGA spend more on Rick Snyder than Scott Walker?

That’s a good question, given that Walker is probably more significant to the Republican Party, both as a symbol of resistance to Democrat corruption in Wisconsin (if you’re not familiar with the incredible abuses of power exercised by Democrat officials in a fairly successful effort to intimidate conservatives out of this election, Lois Lerner-style, George Will just declared it “the nastiest political tactic of the year”) and as a possible presidential contender.  Walker has been an amazingly successful governor in the face of relentless attacks and ridiculous antics from Democrats since the day he took office; this is the state where the entire Democrat caucus was ordered to decamp to hotels in Illinois by their union masters, in order to short-circuit legislative action on Walker’s reforms.  If he wins re-election after all that, and after the witch-hunt tactics used to disable the conservative political network in Wisconsin, he’ll have a formidable presidential resume.  Some grumble that’s exactly why Christie wouldn’t go to the mat to save him, and after the self-serving speech he gave at the 2012 Republican National Convention, Christie’s detractors argue that surrogate campaigning from him might not amount to much.

Furthermore, Wisconsin is one of the few states where Democrat candidates are still willing to be seen with President Obama; he, his wife, and Bill Clinton have all paid visits to rally the Democrat base against Walker.  There aren’t a lot of persuadable independent voters in this particular contest, so it all comes down to turnout.  This is not a race where the national Republican tide can be counted on to break a deadlocked race that’s basically tied down to two decimal places at the moment.

The Washington Post theorizes that Walker is exaggerating complaints about funding to cadge a few more dollars from the RGA, and it seems to have worked… unless one buys the account given to the Weekly Standard by state Republican sources that the original plan called for considerably higher levels of spending in the Wisconsin governor’s race.  It’s also suggested that Walker is trying to set up a narrative that will give him more credit for winning, or someone to blame if he loses.  

The latest jobs report contained very good news for Walker, bringing his state’s unemployment rate to the lowest it’s been since the 2008 recession, and below the national average.  However, Democrats are making a lot of hay about Walker’s promise to create over twice as many jobs during his first term.  (The same people will, of course, vomit blood if you remind them of the promises Barack Obama made at the beginning of his terms, especially his projections of what unemployment would be like with or without his trillion-dollar “stimulus” plan.)  Is a good final employment report going to budge anyone who’s made up their minds against the Governor – or, more to the point, will it pump up turnout among his supporters?  It takes advertising money to close the deal with voters in the final days of a campaign.


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