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Analysts Surprised by Walker's Quick Exit From the Presidential Race

Andy Manis/Getty Images
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at a news conference September 21, 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin, Walker, a one-time Iowa front-runner in the Republican presidential race, announced that he is ending his bid for the White House.

After tanking in the polls for weeks, Gov. Walker announced Monday he’s dropping out of the presidential race.

Walker was seeking the Republican nomination amongst a crowded field of candidates.

Insiders say the campaign was simply running out of money. Walker quickly built-out an expansive staff, after formally getting into the race in July.

He announced his bid to a packed house in Waukesha, billing himself as someone who would shake up the gridlock on Capitol Hill.

“We have a government in Washington that just can’t seem to get the job done. Washington, 68 square miles surrounded by reality. The good news is, it’s not too late. We can turn things around,” Walker says.

Then, there were missteps. Walker switched positions on several issues and gave flat performances in debates last week and in August. He also had a hard time being heard over flamboyant real estate mogul and front-runner Donald Trump.  

Walker, a one-time top tier candidate, fell to less than a half percentage point in a national poll released over the weekend.

Walker looked dejected Monday when he announced at the Edgewater Hotel in Madison that he would be packing it in. He didn’t mention Trump by name but implied the front runner has tainted the race.

“I was sitting in church yesterday, and realized the Bible is full of stories about people who are called to be leaders in unusual ways. I believe I’m being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top. With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately,” Walker says.

Walker called on other candidates to drop out as well. Some political observers expressed shock, including Marquette Law School Poll Director Charles Franklin. He thought the governor would stay in the race at least through the third GOP debate in October.

“I was surprised. Certainly the governor’s campaign has fallen dramatically in the polls. But, I think the expectation was that they had enough money to continue the campaign for several weeks, if not another couple of months,” Franklin says.

Another pundit thinks Walker acted too hastily. UW-Madison Political Science Professor Barry Burden called Walker’s decision premature.

“We’re not very far into the presidential campaign yet. There have only been two debates, no votes cast. It’s an unusual year with Donald Trump at the head of the pack. A lot of people believe he’s going to fade at some point and the field will be narrowed,” Burden says.

It’s assumed Walker will continue governing Wisconsin through 2018. It’s unclear whether he’ll seek a third term or possibly give the presidency another shot.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos issued a statement Monday welcoming the governor back into the fold.

Democratic state Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee also released a statement saying she hopes Walker’s decision will provide an opportunity to re-examine the many harmful policies he has enacted in the state.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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