We know conservative politicians in safe districts are happy to align themselves with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. In fact, they fawn over him. But for vulnerable pols, or hopefuls in battleground states and districts, it’s a different story.
Take Washington state’s Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, who aspires to be governor.
Washington Dems tried to mark McKenna with Walker’s taint, in an ad in The Olympian. “If you like what Governor Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin… you will love Rob McKenna as Washington State’s Governor.”
McKenna wants no part of that association — even though he’s publicly taken position’s similar to Walker’s in the recent past.
“Collective bargaining is a right. It’s not the problem. The problem is politicians who give away too much at the bargaining table,” McKenna said.
If he does get elected governor, McKenna said he’d work with unions, rather than “terrorizing them.”
McKenna doesn’t exactly have a reputation as a union-friendly Republican. Indeed, he’s recently called collective bargaining by public-sector unions “dangerous,” and cited FDR in a speech, saying “FDR, by the way, among other little known facts, was strongly opposed to the unionization of public employees. He understood why you don’t need the unionization of public employees. And why it would be dangerous for it to happen.”
As the 2012 campaign heats up, this is going to be a definitional question for Republicans in real races, right up there with “do you agree with Sarah Palin on X?” Should be fun.
Ed note: This post has been updated since publication.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.