Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) thinks Democrats may come after him on the “war on women” during his re-election campaign next year, but he doesn’t expect it to work.
Speaking at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Friday, Walker … shot down the idea that he could be vulnerable to accusations that he is pushing socially conservative legislation that rolls back women’s rights. Walker said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) tried to do that in the 2010 gubernatorial election to little success.
“I talked about that in my book, Tom Barrett tried to do that. He spent a month using the War on Women very ineffectively because voters in our state … I find it insulting that you think that voters just care about one or two issues,” Walker said. “But I find that the women as well as the men I talk to in my state, what they want to know was I going to continue to move forward with reforms that will help get our budget balanced, lower our debts, improve our economy, improve our schools, improve higher education.”
I’m not in a position to say with confidence what kind of political criticisms will or won’t work in Wisconsin next year, but if Walker believes his efforts to restrict reproductive rights won’t matter, he’s taking a big gamble.
First, the results from a recall election in June 2012 aren’t entirely applicable – some of the voters who backed the governor at the time opposed the recall process itself. It wasn’t necessarily an endorsement of Walker or his agenda.
Second, the governor may prefer to shift the focus away from his culture-war agenda and onto the economy, but since Walker’s economic record isn’t exactly impressive, either, he may need a back-up plan.
And finally, in July of this year – more than a year after the 2012 recall effort – Walker approved sweeping new restrictions on reproductive rights, including a requirement that women receive a medically unnecessary ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy, and regulatory measures that would close half of the state’s abortion clinics.
That measure was soon after blocked in the courts, which was welcome news to women in Wisconsin, but doesn’t change the fact that Walker positioned himself as a new “Governor Ultrasound.”
To hear the governor tell it this morning, he’s effectively been inoculated against criticisms on issues related to women’s health. Once the “Governor Ultrasound” ads start airing, we’ll see if Walker’s assessment holds up.