Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has held an elected office for nearly half of his life, with an interest in politics that developed in high school and continued through his college years, when he was embroiled in a nasty — and unsuccessful — campaign for student body president.
As Scott Walker considers a bid for the presidency in 2016, here are seven details about his life before he entered politics.
Walker was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1967. His family lived for a time in Iowa. When he was 10, they settled in the small manufacturing town of Delavan, Wisconsin. His father became a well-known Baptist preacher there.
In high school, Walker was selected with one other teen who had also shown leadership ability to represent Wisconsin in the Boys Nation program in Washington, D.C. The program teaches young men about the federal government. While in D.C., Walker met his political icon, President Ronald Reagan. Walker also became an Eagle Scout and attended the American Legion’s government training program, Badger Boys State.
During the summer between graduating from high school and enrolling in college, Walker volunteered for Tommy Thompson’s successful gubernatorial campaign. Thompson also made a brief run for president in 2007, but is now throwing his support behind Walker for 2016, should he run.
In 1986, Walker enrolled at Marquette University, a Jesuit school in Milwaukee. As a freshman, he oversaw an investigation that led to student leaders resigning for charging a lavish homecoming dinner to student government accounts. As a sophomore, Walker ran for student body president against a liberal Chicagoan. The bitter contest touched on issues typically reserved for federal campaigns, such as abortion (Walker was against it) and school funding for apartheid South Africa (Walker supported the administration and criticized student protests). With accusations of improper behavior on both sides — including reports that newspapers endorsing Walker’s opponent disappeared — Walker lost the race.
Walker stepped out of the college limelight after that. Instead, he focused on volunteer work and a part-time job he’d landed at a local IBM office. In early 1990, just before he was scheduled to graduate, Walker dropped out of Marquette without earning a degree.
After leaving school, Walker took a job in marketing and fundraising for the American Red Cross. He worked in that position for four years, until 1994, through an unsuccessful bid for state Assembly at just 22 years old.
In 1993, just before Walker won election to his first public office, he married his wife, Tonette, who is 11 years his senior. The pair met in 1992 during karaoke night at a local barbecue restaurant, Tonette Walker told BRAVA Magazine
. The couple had two sons in quick succession, as Walker served his first term in the state Assembly.
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