Walker to take new job, won't run for office in 2022

July 16, 2019

FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2018, file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talks about legislation he signed into law and addressed his transitional agenda as he prepares to leave office during a news conference in Green Bay, Wis. Walker says he won't run for office in 2022 after he accepted a full-time job running a national conservative youth organization.

MADISON, Wis.  Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he won't run for office again in 2022 because he has accepted a new full-time job running a group based in Washington, D.C., that promotes conservative ideas among young people.

The Republican had been openly considering running for his old job as governor or for U.S. Senate in 2022. But Walker told a Milwaukee newspaper in a story published Monday that his job as president of the Young America's Foundation, which is based in the Washington area, will make it impossible for him to run for office in 2022.

"Starting January 2021, this will be full-time," Walker told the the newspaper of his new job. "I won't be engaged in anything else. This will be my sole occupation."

Walker said he was announcing his new job now, more than a year before it begins, so those considering running for governor or U.S. Senate knew his intentions early. Walker said that his term with Young America's Foundation will begin after the current president steps down after more than 40 years.

Walker did not immediately return a call from the Associated Press seeking comment.

Walker, 51, is expected to serve four years in the new position. Walker spent 26 years in elected office before being defeated in November by Democrat Tony Evers.

There are no statewide partisan races on the ballot in 2020. In 2022, both Evers and Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson will be up for re-election. Johnson has not yet said whether he will seek a third term. He is also considering running for governor or retiring from politics.

Many Republicans have been considering running for one of those offices, and Walker's announcement that he won't get in will only fuel interest.

Walker, an evangelical Christian, said he and his wife Tonette spent "a lot of time thinking about and praying about" the move.

"But it just feels like God's calling us to take on this mission," he said.

Since his 2018 defeat, Walker joined a speaker's group, is the fundraising chairman for a group that helps Republicans with redistricting plans and is honorary chairman of a group advocating for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Walker has also said he would lead the effort to re-elect President Donald Trump in Wisconsin.

Walker, who lives in Milwaukee, said he will maintain a residence in Wisconsin and look for another one in either northern Virginia or Washington, D.C.

Walker said he hoped to take the Young America's Foundation "to the next tier" in its mission of promoting conservatism among young people, including having a presence on every public and private college campus in the country.

The Young America's Foundation bills itself as "the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement." It was founded in 1977 and merged in 2011 with Young Americans for Freedom, a group launched in 1960 by one of the godfathers of the modern conservative movement, William F. Buckley. It has been active in battles over speech at universities and in sending conservative speakers to college campuses.

The foundation reported about $24 million in donations and bequests in 2018, and close to the same amount in spending. The current president, Ron Robinson, is listed in the organization's 2017 tax forms as earning $695,000 from the group, plus more than $300,000 in other compensation.

Wisconsin Democrats promote new redistricting plan, 'forget to invite' Republican co-sponsors to press conference

MADISON, Wis. Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday worked to generate momentum for a bill calling for civil servants to draw legislative district boundaries, insisting it's the right time to pass the measure after the U.S. Supreme Court killed a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's Republican-drawn boundaries.

The measure faces major obstacles given that the GOP controls both the state Senate and Assembly.

The Legislature currently draws district boundaries after every U.S. census to reflect population changes and the governor approves them. Then-Gov. Scott Walker signed off on lines Republicans drew in 2011 to consolidate their supporters and spread out Democratic voters. The move reduced the number of competitive districts to a handful, helping Republicans maintain control of both the Assembly and Senate for the last eight years.

Democratic voters filed a federal lawsuit in 2015 alleging the boundaries were unconstitutional. The lawsuit died in June after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gerrymandering claims don't belong in federal court.

Sen. Dave Hansen and Rep. Robyn Vining introduced a bill a week before the ruling that would require the nonpartisan Legislature Reference Bureau to draw the boundaries with oversight from a five-person commission. Legislative leaders would appoint four commission members; those members would choose a fifth person to serve as chair.

Three Assembly Republicans Todd Novak, Joel Kitchens and Travis Tranel, all of whom represent districts that are still competitive __ have signed on as co-sponsors.

Hansen and Vining held a news conference Tuesday to tout the bill and thank the three Republicans for signing on. They urged supporters to contact Republican lawmakers and demand a hearing. They said the Supreme Court ruling has helped highlight how political power hinges on redistricting.

"We can no longer count on anyone else to do it for us. If we want fair and competitive elections we must all do the work," Hansen said. "We now have what we truly can call a bipartisan bill. The time is right. The time is now."

The event was more rally than news conference, with supporters cheering and whistling. Novak, Kitchens and Tranel didn't attend. Hansen said "everyone was invited."

Tranel aide Jeff Curry said Tranel wasn't invited to participate in any news conference Tuesday and was at a legislative summit in Canada. Novak said he wasn't invited and that he's supported nonpartisan redistricting reform since his first Assembly run in 2014. Kitchens aide Paulette Kozar said Kitchens was in his district on Tuesday and wasn't aware of any news conference.

Hansen aide Jay Wadd said later Tuesday that he forgot to invite the Republicans.

"It just didn't dawn on me," he said. "That was my mistake."

Regardless of the three Republicans' support, the measure faces major obstacles in the GOP-dominated Legislature.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the Legislature and governor shouldn't hand over their duty to draw the maps to "an unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats appointed by politicians." He rejected the idea that the Republican-drawn districts have protected GOP legislators, saying his party simply offers better candidates.

Assembly Republicans and the state Elections Commission, defendants in the redistricting lawsuit, filed invoices Monday demanding $64,351 in legal fees from the Democratic voters who filed the lawsuit. The voters have argued they owe nothing since the case was never decided on the merits.

Democrats had a chance to change the redistricting process in 2009 and 2010 when they had complete control of the Legislature and Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle was in office. Mike Sheridan, then the Assembly speaker, and Russ Decker, then the Senate majority leader, chose to keep the status quo. Both lost their seats in a Republican wave in November 2010.

Hansen has introduced a bill to revise the redistricting process every session since then. Democratic Sen. Jeff Smith, who was in the Assembly while Sheridan was speaker, acknowledged during the news conference that his party should have done something then.


Associated Press