Yesterday morning, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) made a fairly important staffing move, announcing that Liz Mair, the RNC’s former Online Communications Director, would hold a similar position in his likely presidential campaign.
Less than a day later, Mair resigned.
Only a day after being announced as an aide to Gov. Scott Walker’s political operation, Liz Mair told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she was resigning. Mair took considerable heat for her frank Twitter criticism of Iowa’s early role in the presidential nomination process.“The tone of some of my tweets concerning Iowa was at odds with that which Gov. Walker has always encouraged in political discourse,” Mair said in a statement to the AP in which she announced her immediate resignation. “I wish Gov. Walker and his team all the best.”
While staffing shake-ups at unannounced presidential campaigns generally aren’t big news, what makes this story interesting is the way in which it unfolded.
Walker, who frequently talks about the importance of bold leadership, was confronted with a challenge: the Republican could stand by the member of his team or could back down in the face of an ultimatum from Iowa activists.
Dave Weigel reported late yesterday, before Mair resigned:
For the last nine hours, conservatives inside and outside of Iowa have been chastising Scott Walker’s embryonic campaign for hiring Republican consultant Liz Mair. This afternoon, in an interview with Trip Gabriel, Iowa Republican chairman Jeff Kaufmann called on Walker to give the “shallow and ignorant” Mair her “walking papers.” That escalated the spat – the GOP in the state where Walker’s built a polling lead was giving him an ultimatum.“The important distinction here is that she went after Iowans, not just the caucuses,” explained Iowa GOP spokesman Charlie Szold.
The degree to which Mair “went after” Iowans is open to interpretation – Politico highlighted a series of her tweets on the subject – but the argument from Iowa’s Republican leadership was not. Party officials expected Walker to remove Mair from his team.
Hours later, she was out. We can’t say with confidence whether Mair volunteered her resignation or was pushed, bur either way, the governor accepted it.
And in the larger context, the distance between Scott Walker and a Profile in Courage Award continues to grow. His rhetoric about bold leadership notwithstanding, the Wisconsin Republican was afraid to say whether he believes in evolution; he was afraid to distance himself from Rudy Giuliani’s ugly attacks on President Obama’s patriotism; he was afraid to defy his state legislature on a “right-to-work” law; and he was afraid to stick to his previous positions on all kinds of issues.
Yesterday, Walker was even afraid to tell party officials in Iowa, “I stand by members of my team.”
A few years ago, a similar controversy arose when religious right activists told Mitt Romney’s campaign to fire his foreign-policy spokesperson because of his sexual orientation. About a week later, the staffer was gone.