- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2012

ANALYSIS:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s ability to fight off a concentrated Democratic recall challenge on Tuesday has instantly thrust him into the picture as a possible vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney, giving the low-key Mr. Walker the edge over rivals such as the more voluble New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Mr. Walker, like Mr. Christie still in his first term, has substantive advantages over the better-known New Jersey governor, considered by many conservatives as, at bottom, a moderate who “talks conservative.” The recall win caps Mr. Walker’s triumph in actually breaking the union lock on government employees in his state. New Jersey Democrats carp at Mr. Christie for having threatened to do what Mr. Walker has pulled off.

Gov. Christie confronted unions through YouTube while Gov. Walker fought unions in the battlefield of the ballot box and prevailed,” said Oregon Republican National Committee member Solomon Yue.

“The biggest losers are unions and cable TV hosts who staked their claims in Madison and incited the angry mobs to destroy the state capitol buiding,” said GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway.

Wisconsin and the upper Midwest are crucial to Mr. Romney and, in the wake of Tuesday’s results, Mr. Walker could do more for the ticket than almost anybody else, some analysts argue. This view is based on polling evidence that many voters resent the benefits and jobs security public-sector unions have been able to obtain, benefits non-union workers don’t get and which have strained the finances of municipalities, states and the federal government.

Mr. Walker thus helps Mr. Romney with a slice of the electorate that he needs to win, according to pollster John Zogby, who conducts surveys for The Washington Times.

“The one area where he could gain with Walker on the ticket is among the ‘new have-nots,’” Mr. Zogby said — workers who haven’t seen the salary, benefit, pension and job security gains of unionized government employees in recent years.

“This is the real resentment in the United States today, not a 1 percent vs. 99 percent but the ‘new haves’ — government employees — vs. the ‘new have-nots,’” said Mr. Zogby.

Surveys show that 36 percent of all U.S. adults live in households where someone is working at a job that pays less than a previous job, reflecting a steady annual increase from the 14 percent who reported that in 1991.

One unknown in the political equation is whether Mr. Romney is enough of a risk-taker to go for someone seen as a hero to the party base but who inspires intense negative passions in the opposition.

“I believe Romney goes with the safest and most comfortable vice president,” said Denver-based pollster Floyd Ciruli.

An influential businessman close to the Romney campaign confided that although Mr. Walker will become a hero to the GOP’s grass roots, as the vice presidential candidate, he would also give that third of union members who vote Republican a reason to oppose Mr. Romney.

Romney is risk-averse,” the businessman said. “I don’t see him picking Walker unless he thinks he has turnout problems and then there may be others who fit the bill without as much downside.”

Some analysts said Tuesday’s recall defeat for Democrats will not hurt President Obama’s chances for winning in November.

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