Walker’s future

Political Beat

Gov. Scott Walker is thinking about his future. He told the Sheboygan Press he’ll announce in February whether he will seek re-election in 2018.

By then, Walker will know whether Donald Trump is living in the White House. That would impact any future plans Walker might have for seeking a future GOP presidential nomination. Walker has said he wouldn’t run for president while serving as governor.

Walker-Scott-headshot-2015
Walker

Gerrymandering guarantees a Republican-controlled Legislature next year. If Walker seeks re-election, GOP legislators will be more willing to follow his ideas than Democrats.

If he decides not to seek re-election, there will be a scramble for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. A February announcement will impact Republican ideas about selecting a candidate to oppose Democrat U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in 2018.

Actions earlier this year would suggest Walker will seek another term. He has conducted closed door meetings to talk to citizens, largely his backers, about the future of the state. The press hasn’t been allowed to attend.

He has focused significant attention on western and northern Wisconsin, where his popularity had sagged since the last gubernatorial election.

Some rural residents have been displeased with how state school cuts have impacted the ability of their districts to compete with larger districts for teachers.

Some larger districts – as well as some in Minnesota – have offered higher pay or bonuses to raid the smaller districts. Walker suggested it is like professional football teams and free agency. The statement annoyed some school officials in smaller enrollment districts.

Financing of higher education also will be a key topic in next year’s state budget deliberations. Walker has talked about linking appropriations for the University of Wisconsin System to a performance standard. No details have been spelled out.

-Matt Pommer is the “dean” of Capitol correspondents in Madison. His column is published with permission from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, but does not reflect the views or opinions of the WNA or its member newspapers.

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