Now, Walker, who served three terms in the House of Representatives and is a distant third in a triple GOP primary, is again a candidate looking for a race to win. Walker follows Trump-backed MP Ted Budd and former Governor Pat McCrory in both support and fundraising for the Senate seat.
As a politician whose career plans have been ruined time and again since 2019, Walker’s situation is complicated by the fact that he is simply not interested in following the traditional rules of the game of politics, but is willing to play key players and kingmakers on his own to alienate way.
If it works, the results for Walker have been spectacular. If it doesn’t work, so will the consequences.
“I will put my pride on the table, but not my principles,” Walker said in an interview earlier this month, days after Trump made the offer.
“On paper,” said Walker, running again for the house, “it makes a lot of sense.”
But Walker is not someone whose policy decisions are based on logic and input from advisers. The former Baptist pastor needs to feel it in his heart – just as he walked from the nosebleed area to the floor of the arena at the 2012 Republican Convention in Tampa and felt God tell him to run for Congress.
Then he won against the odds.
“So I’ll do what I think is best,” Walker said of his current puzzle. “Is it costing me millions of dollars in Super PAC money? Probably. But I know that if I can defeat the system, I can come up like last time and serve unchecked. “
Trump allies had proposed to Walker to support the House of Representatives a few weeks before their December 4th meeting in Trump’s private club in Florida, although Walker initially rejected it – with no realistic path to victory in the Senate race – because the deal included the support of Budd , he said donors. The default was later removed.
Two years ago, he lost out on a court-ordered redraw of the map that made Walker’s congressional district heavily democratic to undo the Republican gerrymandering that left him poor options for 2020. Walker could have preferred Budd for an adjacent seat in the House of Representatives, however, The Club for Growth pledged to sponsor Budd – as they are doing with at least $ 10 million in the current Senate race.
He could have preferred Senator Thom Tillis – a proposal that Walker made public twice in 2019 before announcing that he would not take office at all the following year, but rather seek an open Senate seat in 2022.
Though Walker then suggested getting Trump’s support in 2022 and entering the Senate race ahead of his rivals, Walker was surprised when Trump announced at a rally in June that he would support Budd.
To stay in the race, Walker admits, he has to successfully go his own way. It’s an approach that got it into Congress, but one that would be almost impossible to replicate at the national level without significant funding.
“In one aspect you have the Trump trail, and you have the former governor who I believe has the Karl Rove camp on his trail,” Walker said, referring to McCrory. “And we have to go our own way to be able to build the fundraising, to be able to build the Name ID.”
While McCrory’s associates claim Walker’s retirement would have little impact on earnings, a Club for Growth poll released last week showed that Budd was a marginal 47 percent advantage over McCrory’s 43 in a two-way match Percent had. Club electoral committee that fall showed that Budd still had no lead in the three-way primary, gaining 33 percent support versus McCrory’s 36 percent while Walker had 13 percent of the vote.
“I don’t think they are concerned about my political future,” Walker said of the parties that encouraged him to run for the House of Representatives. “I think they’re concerned that Ted’s numbers are not where they should be. He has everything in the world and he’s still at 30 percent. “
Budds campaign declined to comment on the record for this story.
In North Carolina political circles, it’s no secret that Walker and Budd’s relationship has been strained. After running against Budd for the House of Representatives in the previous cycle, Walker was already angry that his former house colleague had meddled in the 2022 Senate race and occupied the Trump lane that Walker had tried to claim for himself, so several people familiar with the situation.
It’s part of a pattern of skirmishes between Walker and the GOP establishment. He began his political career in 2013 as a church pastor with a plan to lead popular GOP representative Howard Coble, then 30-year-old incumbent, and later to challenge Tillis.
And while he was courting Trump’s support, Walker’s Christian conservatism avoided full blown Trumpism. In 2016, Walker condemned Trump’s statements about sexual assault taped by Access Hollywood, calling it “hideous” and adding that “America deserves better.”
In August 2020 and on his way out of Congress, Walker made headlines by becoming the first high-profile Republican to call on Jerry Falwell Jr. to step down as president of Liberty University – where Walker served on an advisory board for the music faculty – after a photo appeared of Falwell , a close ally of Trump, with his pants open and one arm around his wife’s assistant.
“I’m an everyday guy. My world is made up of simple people who I love and who are important to me, ”said Walker, his voice bursting with emotions. “I’m just a grassroots guy who had extraordinary opportunities, but I didn’t do it the way I should be done within the system – and sometimes that bites you.
“I’m going away before I have to do this.”
Leaving would mean that the 52-year-old from the middle class would make a career again and find a new job. And believing that his God-ordained calling is to influence Washington politics, Walker has no plans to return to full-time service anytime soon.
Walker has successfully defied the establishment before. In a 2014 runoff, he suggested Cobles-backed successor, Phil Berger Jr. – son of the Senate President’s Pro teme and now a State Supreme Court Justice.
In January before the May primary election of that year, Walker’s Congressional campaign had only $ 9,000 in cash on hand, far less than Berger’s.
Throughout his political career, since signaling he was ready to challenge Coble, Walker has shown a mentality that “the rules don’t apply to him and no one will take it personally,” said a North Carolina Republican who worked with the Familiar career of the former congressman.
“That has become problematic for him, especially in the last two to three years.”
Walker quickly became a leading exponent of Congress, becoming chairman of the Republican Studies Committee after his first term and then vice-chairman of the Republican Conference of the House of Representatives in 2019.
But months after his threat against Tillis, the GOP state establishment came for him and offered the seat of Walker’s House to appease the state Supreme Court, which ordered lawmakers to draw a fairer congressional card. Tillis is a former State House Speaker – and among the state’s Congressional delegation, Walker had fewer friends in Raleigh even before publicly considering taking over their former leader.
“In general, lawmakers tend to look to members of their own party, especially congressional cards, when redrawing,” said Michael Bitzer, a North Carolina political commentator and professor of politics and history at Catawba University. “Usually these people have some deep connections with members of the General Assembly. Perhaps Walker just didn’t have that attachment to lawmakers when he was sacrificed in 2019. “
While Walker makes a decision about his campaign plans during the vacation, he is still awaiting Trump’s public approval for the House seat.
“If he stays inside, it hurts Budd, no question about it,” said Doug Heye, a Republican strategist and native of North Carolina who was former communications director for the Republican National Committee. “He’s not taking McCrory’s votes. He only takes it from Budd. “
As part of the deal struck at the Mar-a-Lago meeting attended by Club for Growth President David McIntosh, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (RN.C.), and Congressional candidate Bo Hines, Hines would be his Campaign from the 7th District with Trump’s support to the 4th District, while Trump would support Walker running in the 7th District, much of which he previously represented. Hines has not yet announced his plans either.
“I think for most realists it’s a question of when, not if he decides to drop out of the Senate race,” Bitzer said of Walker. “It would be a bit of a miracle to cause such an excitement.”