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Republican Scott Walker to enter US presidential race

AFP , Thursday 2 Jul 2015
Wisconsin Governor and Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker addresses supporters during a dinner at the "Road to Majority" conference in Washington June 20, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
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Republican Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor who earned national attention for his protracted battle with labor unions, took the first step Thursday towards a 2016 US presidential campaign.

The 47-year-old is currently second place in polling for the Republican ticket, behind former Florida governor Jeb Bush and slightly ahead of Senator Marco Rubio and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, according to an aggregate compiled by RealClearPolitics.

"After hearing from countless Americans during the testing-the-waters phase, Governor Walker this morning will file his papers of candidacy" with the Federal Election Commission, an aide said before the FEC received the documents.

He will host a campaign launch event in Waukesha, Wisconsin on July 13, according to the aide.

In addition to a campaign committee filing, Walker wrote a letter to the FEC ahead of his official announcement next week, saying he has already received campaign contributions.

Walker, who has mulled a presidential bid for months, leads the pack in Iowa, according to a Quinnipiac University poll in the state that votes first in the process to determine the parties' nominees.

He becomes the 15th major Republican to join the crowded field. A 16th, Ohio Governor John Kasich, is expected to enter the race later this month.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination in the race to succeed President Barack Obama.

Coincidentally, Obama travelled Thursday to Wisconsin to deliver a speech about the economy.

Walker, among the more conservative candidates in the race, greeted the president on the tarmac in the city of La Crosse, and the two shook hands and had what appeared to be a friendly conversation, out of ear shot of reporters.

In a column titled "Welcome to Wisconsin, Mr. President," Walker wrote in RealClearPolitics that his state's economy "has enjoyed a dramatic recovery" in recent years.

"But our fortunes have improved in spite of -- not because of -- the president's big-government policies.... I like to think what we have been doing in Wisconsin could serve as a model."

Walker instituted a series of conservative reforms in Wisconsin, including major tax cuts, a right-to-work law that makes union dues voluntary instead of mandatory, a tightening of abortion laws and reining in of state regulations.

He was a virtual unknown nationwide until 2011, when his plan to reduce the collective bargaining power of state employees brought the wrath of unions, whose members led intense demonstrations in Wisconsin's capital city of Madison.

Walker prevailed, backed by conservatives who saw the Wisconsin battle as the front in a larger war against entrenched unions.
He then won a 2012 recall election called by his opponents, and was re-elected in 2014.

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