On a cool evening in Madison this past September, Scott Walker courageously faced the music. Recognizing that his campaign’s momentum had been irreparably stifled, he gracefully excused himself from the ranks of the Republican nomination contest.
The media and the party were abuzz. Walker was a dream nominee for the Republicans in the general election. A governor in a blue state, Walker defied the intense opposition of the left at every turn. When unions and Democratic leaders railed against him, he beat them. When they tried to remove him with a recall election, he beat them again. When they tried to make him a one-term governor, he beat them yet again. And at a time where cracks were already becoming visible in the Republican facade, Walker was near-universally beloved across every demographic of the party. So why now? The Wisconsin governor made his intentions abundantly clear that evening: the conservative movement had to coalesce around one candidate who could stop Donald Trump.
This explanation, of course, didn’t work for the pundits. After all it was September, and there were still months to go before Iowa. Everyone remained steadfastly confident that Trump’s campaign was a circus sideshow, an entertaining, reality TV fever dream that we would all eventually wake up from. Something would sink him, be it a scandal, a gaffe, or the Republican electorate simply becoming bored and weary with his antics. But the governor saw the writing on the wall, and he implored the other candidates and his fellow conservatives to see it too.
Walker didn’t have to drop out of the race when he did. He could have dug in his heels and declared that only he had the answers to our nation’s ills. He could have flown in the face of polling and common sense and defiantly lingered in the race until his home state’s primary next week, where he undoubtedly would have won. Wisconsin Republicans rightfully adore their governor after all. But during an election where our party could not afford egotism and hubris, Walker swallowed his pride and did right by his principles and his country. And on Tuesday, as conservatives nationwide continue to come to grips with a reality foretold by Walker six months ago and attempt to make a final stand in what few remaining primary states we have left, the governor once again did his part by swooping in with an endorsement for Senator Ted Cruz, in a state where he simply cannot afford to fail.
It’s unclear what the Republican Party will look like once this tumultuous election cycle comes to an end. But the conservative movement will remain, and at the forefront of that movement should be Scott Walker: the hero conservatives deserved, but not the one we knew we needed until now.