GOP presidential hopeful Scott Walker makes his pitch to York Countians


Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker spoke to a receptive crowd Tuesday evening at an event hosted by York County state Sen. Scott Wagner.

Walker, the third-term governor of Wisconsin who's one of the 16 Republicans who has formally entered the 2016 presidential race, spoke at a private-meet-and-greet event at the Country Club of York in front of about 150 people.

He laid out some campaign issues and touted the fact that he, a Republican governor in a historically blue state, was able to get much of his agenda passed.

Walker repeated variations on the same line multiple times throughout the evening: He wants to "take power out of the hands of big government interests, and put it back into the hands of the taxpayers."

He touched on several major topics. He said he would look to cut down on federal regulations, which he called a "wet blanket" for economic growth. That's something that could benefit a place such as York County, where manufacturing and agriculture historically have provided many jobs, he told the media after his speech.

He also talked about energy, saying America needs to use more of its natural resources, which means expanding natural-gas drilling.

Then he moved on to the topic of education, where he mentioned his high-profile clashes with unions over, among other things, public-pension reform. He stated his opposition to Common Core or any similar type of national standards, and touched on his support for increased school choice.

He also talked about promoting more skills-based education. After Walker's speech, Wagner told the Dispatch that's something that could directly benefit York County, with its history as a manufacturing hub.

"Someone trained as a welder, for example, could earn maybe three times as much as minimum wage," he said.

The governor received applause and cheers for his assertions that he'd "take the fight to" the Islamic State and other radical Islamist groups, that he'd look to repeal "for once and for all" the Affordable Care Act, which is commonly known as Obamacare, and said he'd look to cut down on illegal immigration. The crowd also made its approval clear for several of the changes Walker oversaw in Wisconsin, such as decreasing funding for Planned Parenthood, requiring residents to have photo identification to vote and allowing Wisconsinites to obtain concealed-carry permits for guns.

He also said he'd terminate the nuclear deal on the table with Iran "the first day I get into office."

Local support: Walker is the candidate Wagner, a Spring Garden Republican whose district includes much of southern York County, identifies with the most.

"This is the gentleman I'm supporting," Wagner told the crowd after Walker wrapped up his speech.

State Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, one of several local elected officials in attendance, said he thought Walker was impressive.

"I think he hit the issues right on the head," he said "Everything he mentioned today is something people — Republicans, Democrats, Independents — are thinking about."

Saylor said it's common for people all across the political spectrum to be uneasy about the future. And Walker can be appealing to many people who are worried, Saylor said, as Walker has demonstrated that he has ideas for the country's future, and has acted on them as an executive.

"I think he's going to be a major figure all campaign," he said. "People want to hear that there is going to be a better future ahead."

— Reach Sean Philip Cotter at