If you thought we had heard the end of Scott Walker when he got beat for governor last fall, think again.
Walker is gallivanting around the country these days making speeches at local Republican gatherings, writing weekly columns for the Rev. Moon-founded Washington Times, serving as Donald Trump's Wisconsin campaign chair for 2020 and badmouthing the campaign to end partisan gerrymandering of congressional and legislative district boundaries.
In other words, a busy man with obvious ambitions — probably readying a campaign to either run for governor again or take Ron Johnson's place as U.S. senator should the pro-Trump zealot actually decide not to run again.
Some of the things Walker talks about on his tour around the country are funny. Like, for instance, his insistence that Democrats are attempting a "nationwide judicial power grab" in their efforts to combat gerrymandering. He has the temerity to make that claim all the while Mitch McConnell and the Republicans who control the Senate are changing rules so they can pack the federal courts with Trump ideologues. Judicial power grab, indeed.
But some of them aren't very funny, like his attacks on Madison, which have become commonplace in Walker's speeches.
In the state of Washington a few weeks ago, he bashed Madison as "left of Stalingrad," an odd reference since Stalingrad is historically revered as the site of the bloody and miserable World War II battle that marked Hitler's first major defeat and was considered a turning point for the Allies' cause. Besides, the city no longer exists, having been renamed Volgograd after Joseph Stalin died. Then again, Walker was never noted for his history acumen. Remember his fumbled attempt to remove the Wisconsin Idea as one of the missions of the University of Wisconsin? He didn't have a clue as to its meaning or historical significance.
But, badmouth Madison? For what? For being the shining star in Wisconsin's economy for which Walker took credit? Taking Madison and Dane County out of that equation would have made him look incompetent.
As James Rowen asked in his blog, "The Political Environment," the other day: Can you imagine any other living Wisconsin governor, regardless of party — Tommy Thompson, Jim Doyle or Martin Schreiber — or before them, Warren Knowles, Lee Dreyfus or Gaylord Nelson — traveling more than halfway across the country and running down Wisconsin's capital city?"
We got a clue of his disdain for Madison and Dane County during his terms in office. He was not one, for instance, to mention the enormous business success story of Epic, the Madison-born health records company that has built more than 10,000 jobs in Wisconsin at its Verona campus with minimal help from government.
But, he was beyond exuberant over landing Foxconn and a promised 13,000 jobs in Racine County with a mere $3 billion in state taxpayer subsidies and another million dollars in tax breaks from the local governments. Not much is happening there nearly two years later.
The state Department of Tourism reported recently that Madison accounts for roughly 10 percent of tourist spending in the state. One might think that a governor, even a former one, would tout the capital city's attractions — everything from its bike trails to the Farmers' Market, from its great college to its lakes — instead of telling potential visitors what a terrible place it is.
That Scott Walker doesn't think much of Madison probably has a lot to do with Madison not liking him. The city gave his opponent, Tony Evers, 150,000 more votes in the election Walker lost by 29,000 statewide.
But, after eight years of ignoring the city, belittling the thousands of state workers who live in it and comparing it to a legendary city in Russia, what would you expect?
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.
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