The Walker model: Savvy messaging, conservative governance

posted at 6:01 pm on February 5, 2013 by Guy Benson

There’s plenty to criticize when it comes to the GOP’s dismal efforts to reach and persuade voters, so exceptions to the recent disquieting rule ought to be highlighted, celebrated and replicated.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is one such exception, and a shining one at that.  Walker’s resounding re-election in the face of a petty, statist coup-by-recall attempt was the highlight of 2012 for American conservatives, and it appears that his victory last June has emboldened the governor to lay out another robust agenda.  I happened to catch C-SPAN’s re-airing of Walker’s ‘state of the state’ address from late January (when I was on vacation in a land where the ruling Left-wing party is imploding at the moment) and found it to be inspirational and instructive.  Walker opened by touting the empirical success of his controversial reforms, prompting cheers from Republicans and scowls from Democrats.  Yes, the party whose members literally fled the state in a pitiful attempt to obstruct progress were reduced to frowning through this roster of accomplishments:

Two years ago, when I first stood here as your new governor, Wisconsin was facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit, property taxes had gone up 27 percent over the previous decade, increasing every year, and the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent. Today, Wisconsin has a $342 million budget surplus, property taxes on a median valued home went down in each of the last two years, and the unemployment rate – well – it’s down to 6.7 percent. We’re turning things around. We’re heading in the right direction. We’re moving Wisconsin forward. And unlike other states, we avoided significant tax increases, massive layoffs and cuts in programs, like Medicaid. Instead, we put in place long-term structural reforms that helped us balance state and local government budgets for years to come. What we did was think more about the next generation than we did about the next election — and it worked. For the first time in our state’s history, we set money aside in two consecutive years for the rainy day fund. Our bond rating is solid and our pension system is the only one in the country that is fully funded. We made tough, but prudent, decisions to get our fiscal house in order. Today, unlike the federal government and many of our neighboring states, we have a surplus, which will allow us to invest in our priorities.

Walker proceeded to roll out a series of strong new policies, methodically selling each one by contrasting the failures of big government with Wisconsin’s successful endeavor in small, streamlined, smart government  Here’s the governor explaining his proposed package of tax cuts:

With the introduction of my proposed budget next month, I will lay out a clear plan for reducing the burden on hard-working families by lowering income taxes on the middle class. We want to continue to put more money in the hands of the hard-working taxpayers and small business owners in our state. Unlike the message coming out of Washington, I believe that putting more money in the hands of the people—instead of the government—is good for the economy

On regulatory relief:

…In addition to access to capital, we want to help small businesses grow by lowering the cost of doing business in our state. In particular, we want to streamline the process, so what we do enforce is about common sense and not about bureaucratic red tape. You may remember, last year, I called for state agencies to work with the reformed Small Business Regulatory Review Board to identify unnecessary, obsolete, and burdensome regulations. In a survey, we asked employers what we can do to help them create jobs in the upcoming year and the most common answer was decrease the amount of state regulations. And they gave us plenty of feedback on rules to review. Tonight, I am pleased to release this report, which identifies over 300 rule modifications in 218 administrative code chapters. Making these changes will make it easier to do business in the state, while maintaining the safety and health of our citizens

On rewarding good teachers with performance-based incentives:

…Part of the long-term strategy to develop our workforce is to continue to transform education in our state. The reforms we enacted over the past two years saved school districts hundreds of millions of dollars and allowed each district to hire based on merit and pay based on performance. We can put the best and the brightest in our classrooms—and we can pay them to stay there. We finally have a way to recognize our exceptional teachers and reward them for the good work they do with our children. Going forward, our educational efforts must be focused on performance. During the past year, State Superintendent Evers and I put together a diverse group of stakeholders from around Wisconsin—teachers, parents, school board members, taxpayers, business leaders, and others—to talk about school and school district accountability…In our budget, we will lay out plans to provide a financial incentive for high-performing and rapidly improving schools. We want to reward and replicate success—all across the state….

And on instituting mining reforms to help resuscitate that industry within the state:

One of the best ways we can show the people of Wisconsin that their state government is focused on jobs is to pass a bill that streamlines the process for safe and environmentally sound mining. Start with the legislation that was approved in the Joint Finance Committee last session, include some reasonable modifications, and send me a bill to sign into law early this year. A mine would be a lifeline to people in northwestern Wisconsin, where the unemployment rate in Iron County is the 2nd highest in the state at nearly 12 percent. But the benefits will be felt all across Wisconsin. We have the potential for a billion and a half dollar investment here in our state that could lead to as many as 3,000 construction-related jobs and 2,800 long-term jobs. It’s no wonder that I’ve heard from people in places like Clinton and Wausau, Green Bay and Prairie du Chien, Superior and Chippewa Falls, all who want us to pass this bill. We need to get started on this project as soon as possible. Tonight, please join me in welcoming a number of people who really want to get to work.

Joining me are Josh Dennis, Larry Youngs, Cindy Lafortune, Karl Krall, Richard Galarno, Curt Lusua, Adam Kaseno, Steve Anderson, Harold Wickman, and Ryan Haffenbredl. These operating engineers are members of Local 139, who are looking for work. Also joining us tonight are carpenters and millwrights from northern Wisconsin locals of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, welcome Dana Tonnelli, Bob Polencheck, Charlie Steed, Al Ida, Dan Gillespie, Pete Langreck, David Grottke, and Jim Berrens. Together, these folks are holding up the flag of the great State of Wisconsin. On the right side of the seal is the image of a miner. In the upper right corner are the tools of a miner. And on the top of the seal is a badger, which comes from the nickname given to early settlers who were miners. If any state can move forward with a way to streamline the process for safe and environmentally sound mining, shouldn’t it be the Badger State?

During that passage, Walker personalized and illustrated his goal by welcoming a bevy of hard-hat-clad, unionized (!) workers onto the podium, smiling and holding the Wisconsin flag.  Here’s how a local news station covered the address (note the striking visuals around the 0:45 mark):


Walker even tossed in some parochial populism for good measure, conspicuously welcoming a small business that recently fled the fiscal nightmare of Illinois and relocated to Wisconsin.  The governor called the achievement “almost as exciting as beating the Bears.”  Optics.  Messaging.  Prudent and inventive conservatism — this is how it’s done.  Other Republicans would be wise to take heed of Scott Walker’s fine example.

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

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Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

Absolutely!

CTSherman on February 5, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

I was saying he should have run in 2012. Definitely 2016.

nobar on February 5, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Nothing a couple of years in DC won’t cure.

In no time he’ll be flying private jets around on our dime, screwing underage foreign hookers and doing fluff interviews with our “tough investigative media”.

After a term or so he’ll have a couple of overseas companies pumping millions in his off shore bank account and he’ll fly back to the rubes to “visit with them” for a weekend or so before going back and stealing more money.

acyl72 on February 5, 2013 at 6:09 PM

This guy may be the best chance for Conservatism! No acquiesence in this Governor! Unlike Governor Kasich who just rolled over…..true to his form as a Cogfressman.

tomshup on February 5, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Obama and Democrats with fingers in ears are humming real loud so as not to hear any of this.

Meanwhile Boehner is doing exercises to see how far he can bend over next time he meets Obama or Reid…

albill on February 5, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

Oh, yeah. And from what I’ve read Walker appears to be the real deal of a Christian.

(Have you really trademarked your name?)

INC on February 5, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Right now, Walker looks better to me than anyone else I have heard mentioned for 2016, but that’s a pretty low hurdle to get over.

cool breeze on February 5, 2013 at 6:13 PM

acyl72 on February 5, 2013 at 6:09 PM

He’s not a Democrat, you know. Besides, Congress critters of both stripes are the ones who go to BoomTown to get rich off of our dime.

He’s also very close to his dad. That’s always a good marker of integrity.

INC on February 5, 2013 at 6:14 PM

Walker proves that unashamed, bold colors conservatism works.

It is the RINO version of conservatism that consistently fails and yet is tried over and over and over again by the establishment types. It just proves that establishmentarians are as in favor of BIG government, crony capitalism, and centralized power as are the statists.

Charlemagne on February 5, 2013 at 6:15 PM

And yet they voted for Obama.
Mighty curious indeed.

NeoKong on February 5, 2013 at 6:15 PM

acyl72 on February 5, 2013 at 6:09 PM

He’s not a Democrat, you know. Besides, Congress critters of both stripes are the ones who go to BoomTown to get rich off of our dime.

He’s also very close to his dad. That’s always a good marker of integrity.

INC on February 5, 2013 at 6:14 PM

You mean the kenyan that’s the spawn of a whore and a wandering african sperm donor’s not close to his dad?

Is there really any difference between any of them after a couple of years? They are all corrupted by the power and money.

acyl72 on February 5, 2013 at 6:20 PM

I think Scott Walker would make a fantastic President. He has a proven record as a fiscal, small government conservative. He inherited a mess and turned things around. Heres to hoping he considers a run in 2016!!

Jack_Burton on February 5, 2013 at 6:21 PM

This is exactly what is needed; to me, the Rove announcement yesterday was more in line with this philosophy than it was anti-Tea Party.

Clearly the Tea Party has a significant place within the GOP, we just need fewer poorly vetted candidates and incidents where Dick Armey is pushed out of Freedom Works at gunpoint.

Tater Salad on February 5, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Nice speech.

NbyNW on February 5, 2013 at 6:21 PM

This man is a hero! His family has even been personally threatened and yet.. there he is taking on the unions and succeeding!

But I’m shocked? Why wasn’t he demoralized after being elected? Why didn’t he fall on the floor and suck his thumb when the protestors stormed the Capital? Why didn’t he quit and cave when the Democrats left his state? Why didn’t he cry like a baby and start saying nice things about Obama and the Democrats when the court first threw out his new law?

He has done everything the GOP establishment says not to do. He has done everything the GOP establishment says leads to failure. And yet he has succeeded!

This is the man.. and I know there are others around this country.. we need to be uplifting and supporting!

Gov. Walker is showing what can be done when you don’t back down, get demoralized, fall on the floor, suck your thumb and cave.

And yet.. has Boehner ever asked him to address the House? Have the RINO’s and the GOP establishment ever lifted him up as an example of anything?

JellyToast on February 5, 2013 at 6:21 PM

@AP You had to put in that exit question, didn’t you? ;-)

tommy71 on February 5, 2013 at 6:22 PM

Not another hero please!

Someday we might stop seeking to find that storybook leader on a white horse to lead us out of this quagmire that we put ourselves in. No political leader is going to restore our society, unless we first return to God and His moral laws that alone gives us our rights and freedom. It is no accident that those folks that most loath His laws, are the very ones who seek to take away the rights he gives us.
Arguing about economics or taxes, or depending on lawyer games to restore that corrupted Constitution, will never restore the necessary core integrity our our citizens. Marriage, family, responsibility and faith in the Almighty might just do it. Interesting that the left saw these areas as the battle ground but the elitest GOP and the fiscal and libertarian right preferred to surrender them. So now they stand quivering as their leaders jump ship one after the other, hoping for a new hero to replace the last failed hero, again and again.

Don L on February 5, 2013 at 6:22 PM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

Walker has the same problem Paul Ryan has (ironic given that they’re from the same state): bland delivery. To nitpick, his face looks constantly sleepy, and the issues he speaks about are budget-exclusive (which won’t cause him problems with Social Conservatives like Romney had, but it still won’t get them interested, or almost anyone else for that matter).

He did toss in a couple of lines about working families and ensuring that they would be able to improve their lives (and the optics with the working class miners is smart). That is good and is a modest improvement over what the GOP was doing previously.

Stoic Patriot on February 5, 2013 at 6:26 PM

I like this Walker Fellow

workingclass artist on February 5, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

No.

He’s too good for a race at The Big Chair.

Clone him and send him to other Blue States as a Guv. That would have the most impact.

The GOP is dead as a Presidential Party. Think Whigs.

They have no understandable message that can withstand the Donk/MSM complex and they have no clue how to fight dirty.

Bruno Strozek on February 5, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Yes, Walker is a good role model. Optics, messaging and marketing. Perhaps other republicans can learn from this gov.

tommy71 on February 5, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

As VP.

Bmore on February 5, 2013 at 6:37 PM

This is exactly what is needed; to me, the Rove announcement yesterday was more in line with this philosophy than it was anti-Tea Party.
Tater Salad on February 5, 2013 at 6:21 PM

It was entirely anti-Tea Party. The only reason for his announcement or his effort is the Tea Party. Nothing has ever put the fear of God in the establishment as the Tea Party has. It has proved a material and existential threat. The Tea Party represents the first significant coalesence of grassroots activism to challenge the premise of managed decline and accommodation to the power and premises of Washington. Rove et al spent obscene amounts in one failed campaign after another yet re-directs focus on the few “unvetted candidates.” There is always risk in politics, but Rove et al want none of it. But they will fail to stymie the Tea Party.

rrpjr on February 5, 2013 at 6:39 PM

God no, please no Walker for 2016…. PLEASE!

WHy you might ask? This is because I am worried of who would then get the Gov seat. After all, this is the same state that voted for Bama and also put Baldwin into office… We go back to being on the road to being broke again in a few short years. Walker can be Gov for a long time as long as he keeps true to what he does best… and that is run the State like a business and put the interest of the state before the special interests like unions.

watertown on February 5, 2013 at 6:41 PM

We want to continue to put more money in the hands of the hard-working taxpayers and small business owners in our state.

That word bothers the hell out of me!

Leave more money .. would be more accurate.

OldEnglish on February 5, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

Veddy Interesting!

canopfor on February 5, 2013 at 6:50 PM

None of this would have happened if Walker didn’t have a spine. He went on offense and won. You won’t always win when you go on offense, but you will never get anywhere if you don’t.

Wigglesworth on February 5, 2013 at 6:51 PM

Democrats……are Santa Claus!

republicans are the Grinch.

It’s just that simple.

PappyD61 on February 5, 2013 at 6:51 PM

@watertown I agree. If he continues on as Gov, there is a chance, SOMEDAY, to turn that state purple, or leans red. The work has to be done from within. Yes, I understand the cynicism, but this presents an opportunity. Hes not a Christie, who can’t change the complexion of his state. Give Walker a chance to try.

tommy71 on February 5, 2013 at 6:51 PM

Just love this guy. And I think the fact that he didn’t finish college (attended Marquette but never graduated) will send the liberal elites over the edge! Run Walker Run!

monalisa on February 5, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Keep up the good work Governor Walker!

nonpartisan on February 5, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Study this and weep at the stupid land.

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Nothing sells like success. No wonder the Dimocrats were frowning.

GarandFan on February 5, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Presidential timber?

IndieDogg on February 5, 2013 at 7:46 PM

He caved on supporting Bachmann and the other Congressman that wanted to know about the Muslim Brotherhood connections to Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton.

Poor judgement supporting Boehner.

He reminds me of a more polished Christ Christie.

PappyD61 on February 5, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Nice writeup Guy.

Welcome back to the land up over!

eyesky on February 5, 2013 at 7:54 PM

How can this guy be an example of a good Republican? He’s not talking non-stop about supporting gay marriage, free pot for everyone, and removing all limits from abortion? Isn’t this what we’re told repeatedly by the experts?

I’m being sarcastic. Don’t know the code symbols, etc. for this kind of stuff.

yhxqqsn on February 5, 2013 at 7:56 PM

…wish he could have done something for Thompson and Ryan!

KOOLAID2 on February 5, 2013 at 7:58 PM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

Yep, either him or Mike Pence seem to be ou best options.

Walker has the same problem Paul Ryan has (ironic given that they’re from the same state): bland delivery. To nitpick, his face looks constantly sleepy, and the issues he speaks about are budget-exclusive (which won’t cause him problems with Social Conservatives like Romney had, but it still won’t get them interested, or almost anyone else for that matter).

Stoic Patriot on February 5, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Romney being “boring” was an issue but not a big one. The problem with them Romney was he totally alienated his base and was seen as a liberal whereas Walker very visibly sought and won a major confrontation with the Democrats. He also hasn’t gone out of his way to flip off the base like the Rove/Romney/Christie wing of the party has. He has a lot of pros and very, very few cons.

My main concern for him would be:

The GOP is dead as a Presidential Party. Think Whigs.

They have no understandable message that can withstand the Donk/MSM complex and they have no clue how to fight dirty.

Bruno Strozek on February 5, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Given how moribund the GOP has become, I do have a concern that it’s no longer possible for a GOP presidential candidate to win elections since there is a significant faction of the Republicans that will with side with Democrats routinely if their chosen candidate isn’t picked.

Doomberg on February 5, 2013 at 8:21 PM

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2013 at 7:21 PM

A good read, thanks for posting. I have enjoyed David quite a bit over the years. Two things I see as wanting in this following plan. It presumes the R party would dare to implement it, they won’t. Secondly the current electorate, is shallow and uninterested largely. Not even smart enough to vote with their pocketbooks. I’m not sure they are smart enough to realize they have been put on the defensive. I’m not sure that they are observant enough to follow reason and any logic pertaining to an argument.

A Winning Strategy for Republicans

1. Put the aggressors on the defensive.

2. Put their victims — women, minorities, the poor and working Americans -­-­ in front of every argument and every policy in the same way they do.

3. Start the campaign now (because the Democrats already have).

Bmore on February 5, 2013 at 8:49 PM

there is a significant faction of the Republicans that will side with Democrats routinely if their chosen candidate isn’t picked.

Doomberg on February 5, 2013 at 8:21 PM

Agree with you on everything except the last part. Romney’s problem wasn’t just with the base, or with people that wanted a certain candidate.

There were a decent number of Independents and Democrats- I personally knew 5, that thought Obama was bad for the country but couldn’t pull the trigger for Romney because they thought he was fake. They believed the whole “FlipFlopney” idea of the man and I can’t blame them. He was hard to defend.

Hard to win the argument with people that can be persuaded when the best you have is, “he’s not Obama”.

Get candidates in that can be defended, based on principles and track record-especially fiscal, and I believe those people can win.

CTSherman on February 5, 2013 at 8:57 PM

I will have a hard time picking between Walker, Jindal, Rubio, or Paul (Rand) if they run. 4 tough choices.
Walker won in a blue state, which is big, and won again. He has had the benefit of having a republican house and senate to get the bills passed. He wouldn’t have gotten those passed without them. He does have a spine. He didnt have to fight the House or Senate to get a bill passed but he did have to fight the mobs and a bunch of do nothing dems. Obama has his own form of a spine and he gets just about everything he wants with a Republican House (most of the R’s lack a spine).

ritewhit on February 5, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Excellent read. Thank you.

CTSherman on February 5, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

Absolutely!

CTSherman on February 5, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Vision, Message, Execution.
The total package.

talkingpoints on February 5, 2013 at 9:29 PM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

Absolutely. But the GOPe will never ever go for it. Forget it.

ddrintn on February 5, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Clearly the Tea Party has a significant place within the GOP…

Tater Salad on February 5, 2013 at 6:21 PM

LOL. Understatement of the year so far. Without Tea Party types the GOP would already be officially clinically dead. Actually I’m not convinced that it isn’t.

ddrintn on February 5, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

Sure, why not? Throw enough names around and I’m sure something will stick to the wall.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 5, 2013 at 9:43 PM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

Precisely what I was thinking as I was reading. The sleeper candidate. This is precisely the type of candidate that the GOP desperately needs. Someone who can articulate conservatism in a way that resonates with the general public, and, more importantly, who has a record of achievement to back it up.

ncconservative on February 5, 2013 at 10:00 PM

(Have you really trademarked your name?)

INC on February 5, 2013 at 6:12 PM

I think he threw that in there because it was Guy asking the question that AP always does. Sort of giving tribute to AP.

GWB on February 6, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Growing up outside of Chicago and moving to Wisconsin at the age of 29, I’ve seen both sides of the coin. My first 11 years in the Milwaukee burbs were marred by Progressivism, insanely high taxes, and corruption throughout state politics. I started to think I had merely escaped one cesspool to reside in another one with better scenery…

Since the election of Scott walker (now twice), the collective sound of gnashing liberal teeth has been one of the sweetest sounds I’ve heard in all of my days. During the Recall Election, they revealed their true colors for the entire world to see – a vile, contemptuous, evil cabal of parasites. My disdain for them has grown exponentially, so I’m thankful to have one of the most Conservative Governors in the country spraying the disinfectant of fiscal sanity on them.

Polish Rifle on February 6, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?

No – absolutely not.

We finally – finally – get a decent governor and we don’t want to give him up to the cesspool of Washington DC.

ignatzk on February 6, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Exit Question (Allahpundit™): Walker 2016?
No – absolutely not.
We finally – finally – get a decent governor and we don’t want to give him up to the cesspool of Washington DC.
ignatzk on February 6, 2013 at 12:47 PM

This.

We need him here for at least another term, hopefully two. We are still one if the highest-taxed states in the union. He’s working to lower them – started with property taxes, next is income taxes.

You can’t have him (yet)!

the_schmoo on February 6, 2013 at 12:52 PM

He has done everything the GOP establishment says not to do. He has done everything the GOP establishment says leads to failure. And yet he has succeeded!

JellyToast on February 5, 2013 at 6:21 PM

No one comes to mind who has a better track record against tougher odds than he.
I like Rubio (for his communications), and I really like Rand Paul (for his thinking), but if Walker wants the nomination in 2016, I gotta go for him (for his track record), at least at this point.

petefrt on February 6, 2013 at 8:45 PM