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Scott Walker plans to attend South Carolina Freedom Summit (copy)

Gov. Scott Walker wowed conservatives at the Iowa Freedom Summit in late January. 


A nice-sounding couple emailed me the other day to say, “We’ve been led to believe that being governor of a state is a huge job that requires full-time effort.”

And yet, they noted, it doesn’t appear Scott Walker is putting in anywhere near 40 hours — not as governor, at least. He’s probably clocking that and more running for president.

Going after elected officials for taking time out of their workday to campaign is easy because, really, when else are they supposed to run? And what can their neglected constituents back home do to stop them?

My nice-sounding couple suggested Walker be docked half his $147,328 salary if he’s going to spend half his time in New Hampshire or Iowa or elsewhere.

It is galling to see Walker gallivanting around the country while there are real challenges in the Badger State. But if we’re to take an office-holder’s ambitions out on his paycheck, we probably shouldn’t stop with Walker.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin ran for the Senate while a U.S. representative. The man who took her spot in the House, Democrat Mark Pocan, conducted his campaign while a member of the Wisconsin Legislature.

Even Madison Ald. Scott Resnick might be giving short shrift to his constituents in the 8th District as he campaigns across the city to unseat Mayor Paul Soglin.

Requiring current office-holders to take a financial hit while they campaign also puts deep-pocketed candidates at an even greater advantage than they already are in our money-soaked political system. Walker, every millionaire donor’s BFF, could probably get by with having his pay docked. But Pocan was making only $49,943 as a state representative.

Aspiring presidents could quit their jobs before hitting the campaign trail. But this also would favor the wealthy and might be self-defeating, as existing office-holders — including four out of five incumbent presidents — have won all of the eight presidential elections since 1984.

What really irritates two of Walker’s regular and most vocal critics — the state Democratic party and the liberal group One Wisconsin Now — is that it didn’t take Walker long after winning a second term as governor to pivot toward winning a first term as president.

Prior to November’s Election Day, Walker was “utterly and completely dishonest about his intentions,” said One Wisconsin Now executive director Scot Ross.

“Not five months ago, Scott Walker campaigned on wanting to be Wisconsin’s governor for the next four years,” said Democratic Party spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff.

Well, mostly. Walker said it was his “plan” to serve his full term and was “committed” to his office — but he didn’t commit to his office for four years.

Similarly, Walker didn’t commit to busting public- and private-sector unions before introducing Act 10 and signing right-to-work legislation, and the central promise of his first term — overseeing the creation of 250,000 private-sector jobs — went unfulfilled.

Wisconsin voters and national poll respondents haven’t punished him for this lack of transparency and promise-keeping. Quite the opposite, actually.

So why mess with what works?

Contact Chris Rickert at 608-252-6198 or, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@ChrisRickertWSJ). His column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.


Chris Rickert is the urban affairs reporter and SOS columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal.