It’s officially Scott Walker’s 25th anniversary in his self-described “government hammock.”
Having never worked in a significant private sector position in his adult life and having held political office without interruption since his first election victory, June 29, 1993, Scott Walker has been good at winning campaigns. In fact, he’s always focused on his next election.
This is a guy who ran for state office twice before he could legally rent a car.
His electoral obsession was on full display in November 2014 when he mentioned Washington D.C. more than Wisconsin in his speech on the occasion of being elected governor. He spent 2015 ignoring the job he was supposed to be doing, instead pursuing his presidential ambitions.
Walker’s hunger for higher office was manifest as a back-bench member of the State Assembly. He postured enthusiastically on hot button issues of the day and assiduously courted right wing talk radio. He reportedly declared to a colleague in 1997 that he would be governor someday.
When opportunity arose, Walker ran and won a special election for Milwaukee County Executive. Despite being a local government official, Walker was soon off imitating former Gov. Tommy Thompson with a motorcycle tour of state media markets, complete with corporate sponsors who did business with Milwaukee County.
After failing to get his 2006 gubernatorial campaign off the ground, Walker broke his pledge to leave the county executive’s office when his term expired in 2008 as he tried to maintain his visibility waiting for his next chance in 2010.
Breaking his term limit pledge would not be the only time Walker was not true to his word in service of his electoral ambitions.
Perhaps Walker can be excused for still failing to keep his 2010 pledge to create 250,000 new jobs by 2014 because of simple incompetence, but other instances of his dishonesty cannot be explained away as charitably.
During his 2014 campaign Walker blatantly misled voters in a television ad in which he said he respected women’s ability to make their own health care decisions. He further, and falsely, declared he had no interest in a wrong for Wisconsin right-to-work bill. In early 2015 he signed new restrictions on women’s ability to make their own decisions and the right-to-work bill.
Finally, Scott Walker has run his races and kept himself on the government dime by scrupulously rewarding his friends (read campaign donors).
In his early days in the State Assembly, Scott Walker pushed for any and all policies to lengthen criminal sentences and incarcerate more Wisconsinites. He shilled for the private prison industry, supporting shipping inmates out of state and building a private prison in Wisconsin. In a newspaper article noting the contributions he took from those who would benefit from his advocacy, he expressed surprise it took them so long to send their campaign cash his way.
As County Executive, Scott Walker privatized service and handed out contracts to campaign contributors. In a maneuver that caught the attention of prosecutors, Walker worked to steer a county real estate deal to benefit a longtime political confidant who also served as his campaign treasurer.
Now as governor, Walker has reached the zenith of using power to reward cronies and dole out tax dollars to fatten his campaign account. Huge checks are written to groups supporting his election, “because Scott Walker asked” and he has created a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation that sends the majority of its corporate subsidies to businesses whose owners and employees have donated millions to his political campaigns.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and the same holds true for Scott Walker, who has spent 175 dog years as a professional politician.
Scot Ross is executive director of One Wisconsin Now.