In the very different presidential race of a year ago, Scott Walker was a front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination and Bernie Sanders was an asterisk in the race for the Democratic nomination.
Back then, Walker paid little attention to Sanders. But the senator from Vermont talked a lot about how much he would like to run against the governor of Wisconsin. “I would love to debate Scott Walker,” Sanders said in 2015. “I would really like to debate with him about labor rights.”
A year on, Walker is a 2016 footnote—out of the race nationally and struggling with low approval ratings in his home state.
Sanders, on the other hand, is still in the race as an insurgent contender who has won 15 primaries and caucuses and secured more than 1,000 pledged delegates. The senator from Vermont is still running an uphill race—former secretary of state Hillary Clinton has won more states and more delegates—but polls suggest he could win a Wisconsin presidential primary on a day when Scott Walker won’t even be on the ballot.
But, as Wisconsin’s April 5 primary approaches, Sanders is still running against Walker—and against the anti-labor, anti-public education, anti-public services austerity agenda of a Republican Party so toxic that it has become a host for the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
“I think that Scott Walker is a symbol of almost everything that we are opposing,” Sanders explained as he arrived in Wisconsin. “This is a guy who has been vehemently anti-union at a time when we need unions to grow—so they can provide decent wages, working conditions for people. This is a guy who has been very much into voter suppression—making it harder for people to participate in the political process at a time when we need to increase voter turnout. This guy has been an ally of the Koch brothers—one of the great reactionary forces in America, [billionaires] who are trying to move this country in exactly the wrong direction. So you see in Scott Walker what is exactly wrong in the direction that [conservative Republicans] are moving.”
National media coverage from Wisconsin has focused a good deal of attention on Donald Trump’s spat with Walker. The 2016 Republican presidential front-runner is angry with the former 2016 Republican presidential front-runner for endorsing Trump rival Ted Cruz in advance of Tuesday’s GOP primary in the state.