- - Monday, March 21, 2016

In most presidential primary elections, the Wisconsin electorate has relatively little to do with determining the Republican nominee. By the time the Badger State came around in 2008, John McCain had all but wrapped up the nomination, and Mitt Romney had a similar experience in 2012.

However, this year may be different. Wisconsinites will go to the polls on April 5th with a very important decision to make.

The state only holds 42 delegates, so in terms of math, that is not a big number for the 1,237 needed to secure the nomination. But Wisconsin could prove to be the answer someone needs to finally put an end to Donald Trump’s unbelievable run for the nomination.

The reason it could happen is explained by a catchphrase known by many politicos, especially fans of “The West Wing.” Wisconsin could provide a candidate with “The Big Mo.”

After the Arizona primary and Utah caucus on Tuesday, there is only one state that votes for the next month. That state is the nation’s leading producer of cranberries, one of the biggest dairy producers in the country and happens to be the home of former Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s governor.

Wisconsin may not hold all the marbles, but for someone like Ted Cruz it could be his launching pad to the nomination. With Marco Rubio now out of the race, and John Kasich having no mathematical shot at the nomination, Ted Cruz could rapidly garner support among the GOP establishment.

However, a big problem for Mr. Cruz is that the establishment voters are far from the senator’s biggest fans. I’m the first to admit that a Cruz presidency was not my first choice going into this campaign – nor was he my second choice.

So, how does Mr. Cruz do it? He needs a good night on Tuesday, which means winning at least one of the two states. Then he needs to follow that up with a big win two weeks later in Wisconsin.

That is where Mr. Walker could play a big role. While his approval ratings in the state are pretty low overall, he still has very high ratings with Republican voters. And he has managed to be a conservative politician that is liked by the Tea Party, establishment voters and even independents – something very few have been able to do.

He could take that support and throw it behind Mr. Cruz. That endorsement could not only help the Texas senator win big in Wisconsin, it could also provide the needed momentum for him to compete in Mr. Trump’s New York, the next state to vote on April 19th.

If he keeps the momentum going, Mr. Cruz could perform very well heading toward summer and the convention.

Based on the latest polling data available – which is a month old – Mr. Trump has a commanding lead in Wisconsin: 30 percent to Mr. Rubio’s 20 and Mr. Cruz’s 19. With Mr. Rubio out, Mr. Walker could help move his block of voters over to Mr. Cruz, which would put him above the real estate mogul.

Not to mention the conservative movement in Wisconsin is already clamoring for anyone but Mr. Trump.

“If Wisconsin matters there will be a strong anti-Trump effort here because Wisconsin conservatives are more organized and more educated on the importance of free market economics and liberty,” said Republican strategist Brian Fraley in a recent Wisconsin State Journal article.

Every other year has been different, but in 2016, Wisconsin matters, and voters need to act like it. Mr. Trump has proven, and will continue to prove, to be poison to the GOP. He is not what the party stands for, and his nomination will take the country and party a long way in the wrong direction.

This is exactly why Mr. Walker called on candidates to drop out in September when he ended his bid. A divided party cannot beat Mr. Trump, but a united party can. With most other candidates out of the race, Mr. Walker could now serve as the person that finally brings Republicans together. Unfortunately for him, he needs to help the party unite behind Mr. Cruz instead of himself.

But, if Mr. Walker wants to accomplish his goal of stopping Mr. Trump, this might be his last shot. And it could be the country’s last shot, too.

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