If the voters of Wisconsin throw governor Scott Walker out of office in Tuesday’s recall election, it will be in large part the work of the state’s activist students, who have been organizing against Walker since the day he took office in 2011. For Walker, this is merely the latest chapter in a fight that goes back to before most of today’s undergrads were born.
Scott Walker’s career in electoral politics goes back to the spring of 1988, when he ran for the student body presidency of Marquette University. A 20-year-old sophomore, Walker initially won qualified praise from the campus newspaper, but its editorial board reversed itself after seeing what they called a “pouty” pamphlet put out by his campaign.
In the pamphlet, Walker described opponent John Quigley as a campus radical who was “constantly shout[ing] about fighting the administration” and threatening it with “silly” lawsuits. “Student protests and sit-ins,” he wrote, “are poor substitutes for effective leadership.”
That campaign was also clouded by accusations of campaign violations, including an incident in which Walker campaign staffers stole bulk copies of the campus paper’s endorsement issue.
Walker went on to lose that election by a 57-43 margin. He left Marquette two years later without graduating.