WAUKESHA, Wisconsin—Seven weeks after abruptly dropping out of the 2016 presidential race, Scott Walker isn't ready to throw his support behind another Republican candidate just yet. But some of his allies in Wisconsin are beginning to line up behind one contender: Marco Rubio.
Looking to take full advantage of the void left by Walker, Rubio has been quick to make inroads with the Wisconsin governor's supporters at the state Capitol and the donor world. One-third of the GOP caucus in the state Assembly, as well as two state senators, endorsed Rubio for president. And the Florida senator attended a luncheon benefiting his campaign in Milwaukee Monday afternoon that featured some of the most generous donors to Walker and other Republicans in Wisconsin in recent years, as well as a few big names from the region's business community.
There are still plenty of other major Walker supporters up for grabs. But those who have made up their minds are drawn to Rubio’s appeal as a relative newcomer to the national political scene who can most effectively contrast with Hillary Clinton in a general election—an appeal that reminds them of why they initially backed Walker.
"In so many ways, I think that Senator Rubio is very close for people from Wisconsin to what they see from Governor Walker," said Robin Vos, the speaker of the state Assembly, who signed on as a cochair of Rubio’s Wisconsin campaign less than three weeks after Walker exited the race. "Governor Walker in Wisconsin is articulate, he's passionate, he's been able to get things done. I think they see in Senator Rubio the same passion, the same ability to communicate, and the same hopeful attitude that maybe Washington can change and be more like Wisconsin."