Presidential races

Walker staffs up ahead of potential ’16 run

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is staffing up for a potential 2016 White House bid, hiring a potential campaign manager and reportedly planning to launch a new political organization. 

Walker has hired former Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley to pull together a political operation, CNN reported Wednesday afternoon. 

{mosads}Wiley, a national political strategist, has left his position at the consulting firm Mercury LLC, a source confirmed with The Hill. He worked there since March 2013, along with Michael DuHaime, chief political strategist for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), a likely presidential rival to Walker should both enter the race. 

Last year, Wiley advised several successful Republican gubernatorial campaigns, including those of Walker, Bruce Rauner in Illinois and Greg Abbott in Texas. He also worked in the same role for Sen. Joni Ernst in Iowa for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. 

Before joining the RNC for two years, he worked on Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign and President George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004. He also served as executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party in 2005. 

In recent weeks Wiley has “aggressively” reached out to potential staffers for a 2016 Walker run, CNN reported. Wiley declined to comment on the position to CNN and did not immediately return a phone call from The Hill.

In addition to staffing additions, Walker will form “some kind of entity in the coming weeks to lend itself as a vehicle” for a presidential bid, likely a leadership PAC, a source told CNN. Walker’s office declined to comment to The Hill. 

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Tuesday was the latest likely Republican presidential contender to launch a leadership PAC, joining Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas). 

Many have pointed out that Walker, who won reelection in November after fending off a 2012 recall attempt, would need to add staff to help propel the governor onto a national stage. 

A CNN/ORC poll released last month found Walker trailing a crowded field for the 2016 GOP primaries, drawing just 4 percent support compared to 23 percent for Bush, 13 percent for Christie and 7 percent for conservative star Ben Carson. 

CNN pointed out that the governor and his aides have said no announcement will come until after the state’s legislative session finishes later this year. 

Walker on late Tuesday appeared open to entering the race, saying in an interview on “The Hugh Hewitt Show” that “there’s a reason God put me” in his position.

“I think with what I’ve had to go through in the last four years, both politically, but also in terms of the policies, certainly I feel that there’s a reason God put me in a spot to do the things that we’ve done and take on the kind of challenges we’ve done,” Walker said.

“And it’s certainly something I’m going to take seriously and really look at it closely over the next month or two,” he added.


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