Former Gov. Walker on GOP midterm fallout, eliminating early voting, and state Senate impeachment powers
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Now that the midterm elections are over, Republicans are focusing on recruiting and electing experienced candidates after many politicos said November's results proved candidate quality matters.
This year, Republicans nominated a series of inexperienced candidates, which former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said is part of the reason why many of them underperformed during an election that was supposed to favor Republicans with an unpopular president and the economy in a fragile state.
Walker said it was rare to see such mixed results throughout the country and in Wisconsin, but noted Republican incumbents maintained an advantage. He believes candidates who have never run for office before spent too much time talking about the past and relitigating the 2020 election instead of the future.
"I think for all the Republicans running for governor who were incumbents, they were proven problem solvers, and they were people who went beyond disputes about the 2020 election," Walker said. "For a lot of swing voters, they were hungry to hear what you are going to do to make our lives better going forward."
Walker and other prominent Republicans are now working to change the trajectory after the party lost a string of statewide elections. The former governor, who served eight years in office before being ousted by Democratic Governor Tony Evers in 2018, said the party needs to go back to the basics of proposing solutions and then resonating those policies with voters.
"If you stand up and don't get intimidated and then your policies work, you can win without beating people over the head all the time," he said. "I think that's a lesson for all Republicans going forward, is to be decisive but not divisive."
Walker and his former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch are focused on inspiring the next generation to get involved in politics. Walker is currently president of the Young America's Foundation and Kleefisch is overseeing the 1848 Project, an organization that works to elect conservative candidates.
"We want to get top notch, excited, accountable and credible candidates into office," Kleefisch said. "Because candidate quality matters. It's not just about getting on the ballot, it's about winning."
Eliminating Early Voting
Walker elaborated on his post-midterm tweet that suggested putting an end to nearly all early voting.
On Nov. 13, Walker tweeted, "Elections should be on one day. Photo ID should be required. Ballots should be cast in person with exceptions only for military and homebound. Results should be known on the night of the election."
Walker tells CBS 58 early voting has produced "challenges" because he believes voters can change their minds, referencing John Fetterman's post-stroke broadcasted debate against Republican Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania's Senate race.
"I think a lot of people saw Fetterman's performance and said, I'm not certain I want to vote for that candidate."
Walker added, "Make it easy to vote and give people the day off and ensure we don't have this process where if you have some states dragging on for days, if not weeks, before the results. I just think that's unbelievable."
Walker also took issue with some of the state's larger municipalities, such as Madison and Milwaukee, being able to offer extended early voting hours compared to smaller communities that don't have as many resources.
State Senate Impeachment Powers
When asked, Walker said the state Senate's ability to remove state officials accused of impeachable offenses shouldn't be used for political purposes.
"Impeachments are for very limited, very specific and serious cases," said Walker. "It should not be used for political efforts."
Republicans gained a super-majority in the Senate, which now gives them the power to impeach or remove the governor, cabinet secretaries, judges and other state officials. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was first to report on the development. It's only been used once in state history, unsuccessfully, 169 years ago.
"My hope is we never get to that point with an official, regardless of party," Walker said.