Gov. Scott Walker’s re-election team contains familiar long-time advisers, including a target in the John Doe criminal investigation that looked into campaign fundraising during the 2012 recall election.
Walker announced key campaign leadership and staff positions this week. He is set to launch his bid for a third term with a campaign rally Sunday in Waukesha. The election is November 2018. More than a dozen Democrats are either running or considering getting in to challenge Walker.
Michael Grebe, a mainstay in Wisconsin Republican politics and a former state party chairman, will once again serve as Walker’s campaign chairman. He also held that role in Walker’s 2010 campaign and his failed run for president in 2015.
Grebe retired last year as head of the influential conservative Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. He is a former counsel to the Republican National Committee, is a former president of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents and was the Republican National Committee member from Wisconsin between 1984 and 2002.
Milwaukee businessman Jon Hammes, founder and managing partner of Hammes Company, will be Walker’s campaign finance chairman. He also served that role during Walker’s short-lived presidential campaign.
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Walker’s senior strategic adviser will be R.J. Johnson, who held the same role in Walker’s first run in 2010, the recall and his 2014 re-election bid. Johnson was one of the primary targets of the John Doe criminal investigation that looked into whether Walker’s recall campaign illegally coordinated with outside groups, most notably Wisconsin Club for Growth, on fundraising and advertising.
Johnson was an adviser for both Club for Growth and Walker’s campaign during the recall. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2015 ended the investigation, declaring that none of the fundraising activity Johnson and others were involved with to benefit Walker’s campaign was illegal.
Another longtime Walker adviser, Keith Gilkes, will serve as a consultant. Gilkes was Walker’s 2010 campaign manager, served as his first chief of staff and later advised Walker in both the recall and his 2014 campaign.
Walker’s campaign manager will be Joe Fadness, a longtime adviser to Walker and previously worked as executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party. Brian Reisinger, the communications director for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s re-election campaign later year, will also work as an adviser.