No, the C in CPAC doesn’t stand for Connecticut.
But don’t tell that to Republicans in the state.
They have booked a tea party favorite who is persona non grata among organized labor to be their keynote speaker at the upcoming Prescott Bush Awards Dinner, eschewing a middle-of-the-road Republican in favor of a bold and perhaps controversial selection.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will headline the May 20 event at the Hilton Stamford Hotel, according to a party insider who has seen the official program.
Named after the Prescott Bush, the late U.S. senator from Greenwich and Bush family patriarch, the dinner is the state GOP’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Tickets start at $250.
Fresh off an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside of Washington, Walker has seen his stock rise in Republican circles.
State GOP Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. confirmed Walker’s appearance in a media advisory several hours after Hearst broke the story.
“Governor Walker is a bold reformer who has righted the fiscal ship of state in Wisconsin without raising taxes,” Labriola said. “As governor,his efforts have saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than $1 billion, leading to property taxes in Wisconsin declining for the first time in 12 years.”
Labriola sought to contrast Walker with Connecticut Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
“There is a lesson in Governor Walker’s leadership for Governor Malloy and the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly,” Labriola said. “Can you wipe out a massive state deficit without layoffs and without increasing taxes? Yes, you can – Governor Walker did it, and I believe his accomplishments in Wisconsin reflect the kind of changes we need in Connecticut.”
Democrats immediately panned the choice of Walker.
“Scott Walker is a rabid, anti-labor Governor whose stated goal is to destroy unions,” Jonathan Harris, the state party’s executive director, said in a statement. “By inviting him to headline their fundraising dinner, Connecticut Republicans have sent a clear message to every union member, and to everyone who cares about the right we have as Americans to organize: “we care more about money than we do about you, and you have no place in our party.”
Elected in 2010, Walker crafted a law stripping public sector employee unions of most of their collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin. The controversial law requires state employees to pay more towards their health care and pensions, which Walker has said is justified to help rein in expenses. General wage increases are capped at the rate of inflation, unless otherwise stipulated by a public referendum.
In 2012, Walker survived a recall election in Wisconsin, giving Republicans false hope that Mitt Romney would win the presidential election later in the year.