Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker announced plans Monday to serve full-time as president of a national conservative youth organization and ruled out the possibility of him seeking political office in the next five years.
The board of directors of the Young America’s Foundation elected Walker to become president of the group in early 2021 when YAF’s current president will step down after more than 40 years.
YAF works to promote conservative ideas among young people.
“I felt that I could have as great or greater an impact in terms of public service working with YAF and the work that they do with youth across the country as I’ve had the pleasure and honor of doing in elected office up until this point,” Walker told the Wisconsin State Journal in an interview.
Walker said he will not run for governor or seek a U.S. Senate seat in 2022 or 2024. His contract with YAF runs through early 2025.
Asked if he is encouraging anyone to run in the 2022 gubernatorial race, Walker said it will be a wide open field.
“Obviously I’m a big fan of Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, but we’ll have to see over the next few years what she or anybody else does,” he said. “I think right now most folks in Wisconsin are going to be focused on the 2020 elections before worrying about 2022.”
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, has not said if he will pursue a third term in 2022. He’s also mulling a run for governor.
Walker’s announcement was first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Young America’s Foundation is based outside of Washington, D.C., in Reston, Virginia. The foundation reported about $24 million in donations and bequests in 2018, and close to the same amount in spending.
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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.
Walker said he will look for a residence in northern Virginia, but also maintain a residence in Wisconsin. Where he will reside full time hasn’t been determined, he said.
The new position marks a shift in Walker’s professional career where he has spent 26 years in elected office, starting at age 25 as a state representative.
Walker, 51, has been involved in YAF throughout his eight years as governor. His wife, Tonette, serves on YAF’s Reagan Ranch Board of Governors. He said YAF approached him about the job late last year.
Part of Walker’s new duties will include managing more than 500 chapters of Young Americans for Freedom, which are groups started in high schools and on college campuses to promote conservatism. The larger foundation assists the chapters in bringing big-name conservative speakers to their schools.
Walker said he wants YAF to expand its presence to every public and private college campus in the country and establish chapters at two-year campuses. He also said he wants YAF to become a part of children’s’ lives earlier than their high school years.
“We need to make an impact sooner,” he said, invoking the influence Ronald Reagan had on his own life and conservative views. Walker was 12 when Reagan was first elected president.
YAF under Walker’s leadership also will include new ways of communicating, he said.
In a series of tweets Monday, Walker said a majority of young Americans think socialism would be a good thing for the country, which he attributed to the group getting information from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, or liberals in media or on college campuses.
“We have the truth on our side,” he wrote on Twitter. “We just have to find new and more effective ways of communicating the truth to new generations of Americans.”
Since narrowly losing to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in the 2018 gubernatorial election, Walker has served as the fundraising chairman for the National Republican Redistricting Trust, which aims to help the GOP with redistricting after the 2020 census. He is also leading a national effort to approve a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.