Although former Florida governor Jeb Bush is still getting ink for highlighting the plight of the poor and middle class in a speech Wednesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the new “it” aspirant for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
After a strong showing in a recent speech before a group of Iowa conservatives and a first-place showing in a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll, the combative Walker is dominating the national political discussion. Although his star temporarily faded amid suspicions of political wrongdoing and an uphill battle for reelection last year, many are now saying he might make the ideal candidate to appeal to both the GOP establishment and the party’s right-wing grass roots.
All of this helps to explain why – after former governor Mitt Romney’s announcement that he will not seek the GOP presidential nomination again – Walker has joined Bush in the top tier of likely candidates in University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato’s latest “Crystal Ball” political forecast released on Thursday.
Bush is the type of candidate who historically wins GOP nominations, wrote Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley, “and the Bush family and campaign apparatus deserve the respect they’ve earned over three and a half decades in presidential politics.” But following a solid reelection victory last November, “Walker is clearly running, and running quite well in the early going” for the presidential brass ring, they wrote.
Sabato and his team assessed the pros and cons of these two rivals.
Jeb Bush has a conservative gubernatorial resume and a formidable national fundraising apparatus and also “personifies establishment, which typically produces GOP nominees. On the downside, Bush fatigue is real among party regulars, he supports Common Core and immigration reform – both highly unpopular among many conservatives – and he’s having trouble connecting with grass roots Republicans.
Walker has “heroic conservative gubernatorial credentials” for doing battle with Wisconsin public employees and unions, he appeals to many factions within his party and he is getting “serious attention and early momentum.” On the negative side, there are questions on whether he can raise the mountain of money needed to run a national campaign, he lacks a college degree, and he runs the risk of peaking too soon or becoming a target of other aspirants.
Here is a link to Sabato’s full rankings of the more than 20 Republicans considering a run for president.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times: