MILWAUKEE -- Scott Walker announced Monday, September 21st he is dropping out of the GOP presidential race. The Wisconsin governor entered the primary in July as a front-runner in Iowa and a darling of both the conservative base and powerful donors after winning battles against public unions in his left-leaning home state. But that promising start was quickly dashed after poor debate performances dried up support from donors.
Republicans say the campaign's finances were a mess -- even a disaster. Walker had 90 staff members before the money to pay them stopped coming in.
On Sunday, Walker shook a final few hands on the campaign trail in Iowa. By Monday, he had made his decision.
"I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately," Walker said at a news conference in Madison, Wisconsin.
Walker's Super PAC "Unintimidated" raised more than $25 million, but isn't legally allowed to pay campaign staff. PAC officials announced Monday ads will stop running in Iowa and leftover cash will be returned to donors.
"I don`t understand how is it that the Super PAC was flush with cash to do that but his campaign committee, which is separate, wasn`t. The money must`ve fallen off precipitously. It must`ve been like going off a cliff after the last debate," Mordecai Lee, UW-Milwaukee professor said.
Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) said she was surprised Walker dropped out of the race so soon.
"No I didn`t see this coming. I knew Governor Walker did very well in early fundraising. I knew it would be difficult to stay in the race if his numbers did not improve," Darling said.
Republican primary voters have now done what Wisconsin Democrats couldn't -- defeat Walker.
"I would hope that, look, he`s done with this quixotic mission to get some right-wing credentials and actually say, what`s happening in Wisconsin? What do people need?" Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said.
This isn't the first time Walker has dropped out of a race early on. He did so during the 2006 GOP primary for governor against Mark Green -- and four years later, Walker was back. So some political observers say don't write his political obituary yet.
Reaction to the news that Walker dropped out of the Republican presidential race has been coming into the FOX6 Newsroom on Monday evening, September 21st. Read the statements of lawmakers and other officials just below.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R)
“Scott Walker is a man of true integrity and courage. He has worked hard for Wisconsin and made a valiant attempt to offer his leadership to America. I thank him and his family for their efforts and dedication. I wish them all the best.”
DNC Spokesperson TJ Helmstetter
“From the beginning, Walker’s campaign showcased the unabashed hostility that the Republican field has for working people, the middle class, immigrants, and women. No matter which Republican emerges as this reality show’s victor, voters will ultimately reject the Republican nominee’s jaw-dropping determination to cater to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.”
“Scott Walker is the most accomplished conservative Governor in America. Despite facing the most intense protests from the extreme liberal left and their special interests, Governor Walker fought back and turned deficits into surpluses, returned those surpluses to taxpayers through tax cuts, expanded school choice, and fought to ensure that government unions paid their fair share like everyone else. I’d like to personally thank our supporters for their generosity, time, and support of Governor Walker.
"Governor Walker has been a warrior for the conservative movement — delivering unprecedented victories that culminated in a bucket list of conservative reforms that changed people’s lives for the better. Governor Walker’s decision to gracefully exit the race was no doubt tremendously difficult for him and his family, but it is a testament to the type of man and leader that he is."
Assembler Speaker Robin Vos (R - Rochester)
“Wisconsin is fortunate to have Governor Walker for four full years. The Badger State has benefitted greatly under his leadership with the Act 10 reforms, billions of dollars in tax cuts and a decrease in property taxes. He has set the bar high for successful governors.
“Governor Walker has an amazing story to tell about turning Wisconsin around. It is unfortunate that the bluster of candidates overshadowed his substance.
“I look forward to working with Governor Walker on additional reform measures throughout his second term in office. The nation’s loss is truly Wisconsin’s gain.”
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D - Kenosha)
“Gov. Walker has pushed far right wing policies through Wisconsin hoping that extreme element of his party would propel his presidential campaign to win the nomination.
“Unfortunately those policies Gov. Walker and the Republican legislature have rammed through our state to benefit their political fortunes have left our citizens with severely harmed public schools, crumbling infrastructure and a declining middle class.”