Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose successes curtailing the political might of labor unions have earned him admirers in solidly blue California, will address the state Republican Party at its fall convention, officials announced Thursday.
He is scheduled to headline the California GOP’s Sept. 19 banquet dinner in Anaheim.
Walker, one of 16 candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president, formally entered the race this month and has moved to the front of the pack in early polling.
Walker’s reputation as a conservative firebrand was reinforced in recent days as state and national Democrats made him the focus of pointed fundraising appeals. One blasted Walker for signing a bill this week banning most abortions at or beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy, while another took him to task for implying the Boy Scouts of America should retain its prohibition on gay leaders.
Among Walker’s typical applause lines on the campaign trail is a riff about winning elections in a state that often votes for Democrats. President Barack Obama carried Wisconsin in 2008 and 2012.
Walker’s re-election in a tough race last fall marked the third time he had gone before Wisconsin voters in four years. He described his victory, which followed a failed recall attempt orchestrated by organized labor, as a triumph over “big-government special interests.”
California Republicans have been unable to send their own to a statewide office in recent years. This spring, they welcomed as their keynote speaker New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another presidential candidate whose success in a Democratic state has given them hope.
Jim Brulte, the party chairman in California, noted Walker’s years of “fighting for sensible and sound reform.” He predicted that the governor “is sure to be an inspirational voice for California Republicans as we take time at convention to build on our foundation for a successful 2016.”
In a prepared statement, Walker said, “I’m looking forward to joining my fellow Republicans in California to talk more about the year ahead and how we can succeed in 2016 and keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House.”