Walker heads to Iowa to see if they might be calling him

CAPITOL NEWSLETTER
Matt Pommer
Wisconsin Newspaper Association

Perhaps Gov. Scott Walker’s prayers have been answered.

The governor says he has been praying and would run for president of the United States if he felt “called” to the task.

Next week, the governor will be among a half-dozen or more potential presidential candidates attending a major conservative event in Iowa. That’s the state which will be first in 2016 to select delegates to the Republican national nominating convention.

Others scheduled to attend the Jan. 24 session, according to early news accounts, are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen Ted Cruz of Texas, outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

The list probably will grow. Equally important, the event, hosted by Rep. Steve King, should attract a bevy of national political journalists. Reading their accounts will be the wealthy donors needed for a successful campaign.

Walker’s talk of prayers and “calling” could be attractive to re- ligious conservatives in Iowa. The other candidates may just seem to be ambitious. Part of Walker’s presidential hopes include making him appear different than the other conservatives. They’ll all be angry at Obamacare, taxation and Democrats in general.

Among the political hurdles Walker faces is being a college dropout, lack of any history of dealing with a partisan opposition, and the lack of national or foreign affairs experience. But charisma can overcome those things, especially if he were selected to be the vice-presidential candidate.

Walker seems a favorite at the Wall Street Journal. It recently ran a two-column picture of him with a story about Republican governors attempting to reshape social welfare policy. The governor wants to require drug testing for Wisconsin citizens applying for food stamps on unemployment compensation.

The idea isn’t new, the article noted. At last 10 states have approved drug-testing for those plying for certain benefits. Most testing programs require applicants for benefits to fill out a written questionnaire that includes questions designed to determine if they are at high risk for drug use. If so, they must take and pass a urine test.

Children of those who fail the test might be able to get assistance, but it probably would have to be overseen by someone else.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has blocked a Georgia screening requirement for those seeking food stamps. The federal government oversees the nation’s food stamp programs. Other drug-testing plans also have faced legal challenges.

Maine passed drug-testing requirements in 2011, but its legality is being debated by offi- cials, according to the Wall Street Journal. Last year, the Republican governor of North Carolina vetoed a plan, saying it was too costly and legally challenging.

A federal appeals court recently struck down a 2011 Florida law that required drug screening for those seeking aid from a program for needy families. The court said the law was unconstitutional and the state hadn’t proved recipients had more drug problems than the general public.

Wisconsin might provide a different legal picture if the eventual legal challenge to Walker’s idea (assuming it is passed by the Legislature) is reviewed by U. S. Judge Rudolph Randa, a Reagan appointee on the bench in eastern Wisconsin. He has been viewed as a friend of conservative measures.

On the other hand, the Washington Post’s Wonkblog called Walker’s idea one of the 11 worst of 2014. It said his idea wasn’t new, was legally questionable, costly and catches few drug users.


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