Trading Up Bases: How Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republican Leaders are forsaking their constituents

The Milwaukee Journal published an interesting story about how Scott Walker, over the years, has lost support among residents of Milwaukee, his home and where he was the county executive before becoming governor.

While the analysis is interesting, the more important story about Scott Walker’s transcendence from a little known state representative to someone who is considered to be a legitimate candidate for president is his amazing (and I would add extremely troubling) ability to remain disciplined about connecting with a new national base while not looking back, or seemingly caring less, about his old base.

Most politicians, as I have noted before, like to be liked. Scott Walker and some of his party colleagues in the legislature are not burdened by the desire to be liked. What Scott Walker likes is election results. By introducing a really terrible state budget in Wisconsin and signing one that is just as bad if not worse, Walker gets to appeal to the tiny slice of the Republican party that supports such nonsense. It is this small slice of the party that ultimately, elects the party’s flag bearers in early state primaries and caucuses.

Politicians who put their ambitions before their constituents is nothing new. What is new is how flagrant Walker is in throwing his home state under the bus. Why else would he pass such a terrible budget? Why else would he spend such little time in the state? Why else would he try to systematically undermine generations of open records laws and skirt current law by failing to respond meaningfully to those who have asked for records.

It is also new, and troubling, that Republicans in the legislature are becoming more outlandish with their own antics.

For example, it was not that long ago when State Senator Leah Vukmir shied away from speaking out about her involvement with the much-maligned ALEC and in fact, refused to release records related to her connection to shady group. Lately, however, Vukmir has openly discussed her affinity to ALEC (and its seeming efforts to create a kinder, gentler pubic face) and was recently named the group’s national chairperson, something she clearly relishes.

It would be a hard sell for Vukmir to make the case to her constituents that her involvement with a group like ALEC is good for our state. But I have a sense that she does not care. There clearly are bigger things she can do for herself as chairperson for a group like this.

In the end, Walker and Vukmir know their own numbers: For Walker, he knows exactly who he needs to connect with and receive the critical primary and caucuses support to win his party’s nomination. And while Vukmir’s ultimate ambitious are not well known, we can rest assured that she has done the math to show that she does not need a large part of her constituents’ support to get here.

Political ambitions are not new. The way in which Walker and others are boldly forgoing their old political bases for new ones, is not only striking, it is really very sad.

Follow Joe Donovan on Twitter.