Walker to Officially Declare Presidential Bid in Waukesha
Written By Matt Masterson – Freeman Staff 07/03/2015 p. 1A

“It is a historic moment for Waukesha and the state of Wisconsin.”
~Mayor Shawn Reilly

Scott Walker and President Obama

WAUKESHA — After spending months discussing his stance on immigration and education during campaign stops across the county or chatting about foreign policy on trips to London and Israel, Scott Walker will announce what everyone already knows: he is going to run for president in 2016.

And he’s going to announce it in Waukesha.

The Republican governor is expected to kick off his long-anticipated campaign with an announcement in Waukesha July 13, according to aides with his campaign.

“I think it’s an honor,” said Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly, who admitted he needed more time to digest the news shortly after it broke Thursday morning. “It is a historic moment for Waukesha and the state of Wisconsin.”

In a brief, two-paragraph letter hand-delivered to the Federal Election Commission Thursday, Walker said he has not yet announced his decision, but wanted to ensure he was compliant with the Federal Election Campaign Act after receiving “more than $5,000” in contributions over the last two weeks.

Walker also started a countdown of sorts to his kickoff by posting a piece of his presidential campaign logo on Instagram, with eight more slices to come in the days ahead and tweeted an image of himself waving next to an American flag with the message “It begins.”

Reilly said he had heard rumblings prior to Thursday that he might be busy in the middle of July with a potential Walker event, but did not know anything for sure until Thursday.

“I am happy he chose Waukesha because it will put Waukesha on the national stage,” Reilly said. “I hope the national media, when they are here for the day, highlight Waukesha itself and show what a great city it is.”

County Executive Paul Farrow, who still works in Madison as a state senator, said there had been discussions about a possible event in Waukesha, but like Reilly, he had no confirmations before Thursday.

“I am excited to host him. I think it is a great opportunity for the county, it’s a great opportunity for the state to have the governor step into the presidential race,” he said. “What it does is kind of put Waukesha County on the national stage.”

Republican Party of Waukesha County

Why Waukesha?

So why would a Madison politician with experience in Milwaukee, a home in Wauwatosa and history in Delavan chose Waukesha to make arguably the biggest announcement of his career?

Charles Franklin, a professor of Law & Public Policy at Marquette University and director of the university’s Law School Poll, believes it’s because of the governor’s favorable history in the area.

“Waukesha was the scene of his great victory — the recall election,” he said, “and in that sense, returning to those roots and perhaps being able to refer to it in an announcement speech, the scenery will be the same.”

That “scene” was at the Waukesha County Expo Center in 2012, a logical place for Walker to kick off his presidential campaign. Wispolitics. com reported it would indeed be the site of the announcement, but Expo Center Manager Teri Adlam told The Freeman Thursday morning she does not have any contracts in place and nothing is currently scheduled at the site.

Reilly said he too assumed the announcement would be held at the Expo Center, but has not heard anything official about a location.

In addition to a familiar scene, Franklin also believes Walker chose Waukesha to announce his campaign due to the county’s strong Republican base and because the area has become a “default location” for Republican rallies.

“When I say that I am thinking of Mitt Romney’s visits to the county,” he said, referring to visits from the Republican presidential nominee and vice president candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan during the 2012 campaign. “People tend to go where they are comfortable — Democrats go to Milwaukee, Republicans come to Waukesha — for a variety of reasons. Friendly crowds, but also easy airport access.”

Farrow said Waukesha has always been a main anchor for Republicans, noting that national political pundits have highlighted the area as a hub of Republican activity.

“It is a mainstay of the Republican party and the Republican movement, the strength that we have here,” he said. “We are a great representation of the Midwest, and I think that is what we tout very well, is the Midwest values and the strength that we have here kind of emulates what is going on throughout the whole Midwest.”

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