11. Scott Walker


Chris and Jeb

Quick quiz: name the only sitting governor in American history ever to survive a recall election. If your mind went to anywhere other than Wisconsin in 2012, you’re wrong. Scott Walker is the only one to do it so far. And in a purely purple state that Barack Obama won in both 2008 and 2012. Not a bad starting point, since the focus of the recall enacted against him was: budget cuts.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Even more impressive is that Walker not only survived the recall, but increased his margin of victory from his initial 2010 victory, rising from 52 percent voting for him to 53 percent voting for him. That’s unheard of in a recall election circumstance.

And despite pressure and media outrage, Walker continues to govern as a full conservative, not just a budgetary one. Walker is pursuing a conservative social agenda as well as a budgetary one, on most issues.

Plus, his modest cost reforms actually saved the jobs of thousands of teachers who opposed those very reforms and led them to try to recall him.

As a result, Walker is now filling the profile in the GOP landscape that Rick Perry once held; only he’s pulling off his GOP miracle in a purple state Obama won both times, not a solid-red state like Texas.

But with Walker comes the same questions about him that the nation asked about Perry in 2012. Is he ready for the national scrutiny he’d face if nominated? Can he withstand the national GOP urge to bow and scrape at Hillary’s feet, and instead actually take her head-on, on the issues, in a debate?

That’s an unknown, so I’m placing Walker at number 11 on my list, if only because of the question marks. He’s probably my top so-called “dark horse candidate” for 2016, because if he chooses to run and proves himself adept, he could easily leap into the Top 5. But not just yet.

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