My response to Craig Gilbert’s claim: “As Ryan leaves, Wisconsin’s national influence wanes”.

Last month, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article claimed: “As Ryan leaves, Wisconsin’s national influence wanes”. The writer goes on to explain the rationale for such a headline, highlighting the departure of Reince Priebus from the post of the Chief of Staff in the White house and Paul Ryan’s announcement to retire from the position of House Speaker and his decision to leave Congress. Gilbert sums up his reasons by writing: “If Gov. Scott Walker loses this fall – one possible outcome of a Democratic wave – then Wisconsin’s famous “Big Three,” its troika of Republican stars, will be gone from the political game a few short years after mastering it.”

I disagree with the claim – that “Wisconsin’s national influence” is waning – for a host of reasons. First, Reince Priebus led the Republican Party through one of the most monumental elections in American history. Whereas political pundits nationwide were predicting a big win by Hillary Clinton, Americans rose up to put Donald J. Trump in charge. One of the biggest reasons for Donald Trump’s victory is the way the connected with the American people. Wisconsin played a vital role in the election, voting for a Republican presidential candidate for the first time in 32 years. As Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Priebus deserves credit for his role in helping navigate the Republican Party through the November 2016 election. His departure from the White House, following his tenure as the Chief of Staff, cannot undermine his accomplishments as a top Republican national leader from Wisconsin. Furthermore, the author of the article himself admitted: “Once Priebus became White House chief of staff, his days were numbered, because chiefs of staff don’t last long”. That is the nature of that office – the potential for a turnover is high.

Wisconsin is sad to see Paul Ryan leave. Paul Ryan has been in politics for many years, comfortably winning elections. Even to the day of the announcement of his retirement, he did not face any possibility of defeat in a primary election or in a general election. Speaker Ryan is leaving voluntarily, opening his seat up for other candidates. A voluntary departure does not prove waning influence.

“If Gov Scott Walker loses this fall’ is a purely speculative statement. Scott Walker has overcome serious challenges throughout his tenure as a governor so far, and has survived a massive recall election. The grassroots support for Governor Walker is very strong. While I cannot foresee events, I strongly believe that the governor is in good shape when it comes to the possibility of winning his fourth gubernatorial election, that is, winning a third term in office. My belief is further solidified by the fact that, as of this day, there is no strong candidate from the Democratic Party with the level of success that Governor Walker achieved as an elected official. Furthermore, as the headline of a recent Sunday edition of the Wisconsin State Journal stated: Democratic field “scrambled”. With several individuals running for governor as Democrats, and not one person standing out as the obvious favorite, and now with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett considering challenging Scott Walker for the third time, the Democrats have a long way to go before they can come up with their favorite candidate. And by then, Governor Walker will move Wisconsin forward even further – given the pace of his hard work and his record of success – and gain more support from the people of Wisconsin. Therefore the statement – “If Gov Scott Walker loses this fall” – is nothing but a simple “IF” and should not be taken into account to conclude that Wisconsin’s influence is waning.

Wisconsin’s influence in the nation continues to rise, as our state’s senior U.S. Senator, who also was elected to office in 2010, is a leading voice in the nation’s capital. In the 2014 midterm election, after Republicans gained control of the U.S. Senate, Senator Ron Johnson became the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – a powerful committee that has jurisdiction over not only homeland security issues, but also serves as the oversight committee with ability to look into a wide range of government agencies and federal matters. In 2016, when many pundits had written off his re-election race and thought Russ Feingold would be coming back to Washington, Senator Johnson’s victory ensured that Republicans kept control of the Senate, and Chairman Johnson continued in his role. Under his leadership, the committee has investigated and/or prepared reports on and/or held hearings on (and continues to do so) a wide range of topics of national importance including, but not limited to, immigration and border security, the Clinton email scandal and FBI’s investigation of it, opioid epidemic, cybersecurity, and national security.

At a time when people say that Washington is divided and elected officials from the two parties cannot seem to work together, Senator Johnson’s Right to Try legislation (which would provide terminally ill patients access to potentially lifesaving treatments options) passed the Senate unanimously, and awaits further action in the House of Representatives. Thirty-nine states have already passed right to try laws, and Wisconsin’s U.S. Senator Ron Johnson is leading the efforts in the nation’s capital to have this legislation signed into federal law. President Trump, during his 2018 State of the Union address, announced his support for Right to Try.

When it comes to upholding the rule of law and fighting government overreach, Wisconsin leads the way in the nation, as the following example will prove. Earlier this year, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, along with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, led a 20-state coalition to file a lawsuit against the federal government, making the case that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, is unconstitutional. With the passage of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Obamacare tax penalty has been repealed. Previously, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate as a “tax”. In going forward with this lawsuit, Attorney General Schimel claims that since “the Supreme Court has already held that Congress has no authority to impose such a mandate on Americans, absent invoking its taxing authority, the ACA is now unconstitutional” (See Note 2). This effort, if successful in the court, will repeal Obamacare and free Americans from the burden of this massive law.

Additionally, Attorney General Schimel is leading many other great initiatives, such as combating opioid epidemic (which is a nationwide concern) and protecting senior citizens from abuse (which is also of great significance given America’s aging population). The Wisconsin Department of Justice is a leader in addressing problems that affect so many Americans.

Wisconsin is a leader in the country, and its influence is certainly not waning. Just few days ago, on April 28, 2018, in his speech at a rally in Michigan, President Trump talked about Foxconn, the giant Taiwanese manufacturer that will build a 22 million square feet facility in southeast Wisconsin and employ up to 13,000 people. Foxconn’s decision to bring its business to Wisconsin shows our state’s competitiveness in the nation. It is the result of several years of hard work by our Republican leaders and their bold reforms that helped overcome the economic difficulties that our state faced prior to GOP taking over the legislature and the governor’s office, and created an excellent climate that now attracts news businesses and professionals.

Wisconsin is proud to be a national leader in many areas (See Note 1):

– our state is one of the top 10 states for doing business and is one of the three best start-up alternatives to Silicon Valley

– we have the second largest manufacturing concentration

we are one of three states with fully funded pension system

– capital city Madison is the number one city for STEM graduates

– Madison is the best in the country for bringing millenials into workforce

– Madison ranks 7th in the list of best city for young entrepreneurs

– our state has the 5th strongest engineering program in the country

And there’s more.

The whole world is in a state of flux – things change. But Wisconsin’s grassroots momentum and leadership in the nation remains strong, and continues to grow. Concluding that Wisconsin’s national influence is waning is far from accurate. Wisconsin continues to be an example of success.


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Note 2:

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