Gov. Scott Walker's single political defeat out of 12 Wisconsin campaigns taught the likely Republican 2016 presidential contender the importance that money, organization, and staffing plays in winning elections, according to Politico.
Walker was the Milwaukee county executive when he sought the Republican nomination for governor in 2006. He was forced to pull out of the GOP gubernatorial primary — making it the single statewide election that he ever lost in the swing state — because he had failed to systematically prepare all the pieces needed for a winning campaign.
His withdrawal in favor of then-congressman Mark Green came half a year before the primary.
"The lesson," said Gene Ulm, a former Green aide and Walker-watcher, "was to go big or go home," Politico reported.
Walker went on to campaign vigorously for Green, who ultimately lost the race. In the process, he set the stage for his own winning 2010 campaign.
"His departure from the 2006 race showed he's savvy enough to know how and when to pick his shots," former Walker aide Brian Fraley told Politico. "He bowed out because his only path to victory as an underfunded candidate was to run a scorched-earth campaign against his fellow Republican."
Fraley said, "It was a terrible year for Republicans nationally. If he got the nomination then, he likely would have lost the general election anyway. Instead, he was the fresh face for voters in 2010."
For that winning gubernatorial campaign, Walker methodically collected endorsements and money. Michael Grebe, who is now involved in the Walker presidential campaign, was his campaign chairman. The powerful lawyer had been a Green supporter in 2006.
"I think Gov. Walker found out that when you're running for governor and president, you've got to get all your ducks in a row," said Tommy Thompson, the four-term Republican governor of Wisconsin. "The lesson learned was that you need to be prepared, better be backed up, and now I think that's what he's done."
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