The Corner

The Preacher’s Son

Milwaukee, Wis. — At dusk tonight, sitting on a bench outside of a nondescript office complex, was an elderly gentleman in a bright-red T-shirt. He sat there for ten minutes, his hands folded, and waited for Governor Scott Walker to appear.

From afar, one could easily confuse the silver-haired grandfather with an aging AFSCME activist. Up close, he was anything but. His shirt had a short message: “My Son, Scott Walker, is a Hero.”

“Llew Walker,” he told me, gesturing toward the bench. Walker, a 73-year-old retired Baptist preacher from Illinois, has been following his son, the embattled Badger State governor, for the past week.

At events, Walker says, he doesn’t say much to his son, other than offer encouragement. He spends most of his time chatting with the unpaid volunteers, thanking them for making calls.

When his son has to leave for the next stump stop, Walker senior usually hangs back, making small talk. His wife, Patricia, hands out homemade chocolate-chip cookies. “Scott is handling this very well,” Walker says. “He’s been steady. But he’ll be glad to have it all over with.”

Years ago, Walker recalls, he taught his son to be a low-key leader. He supported him as he became an Eagle Scout and invited him to speak at church services — a challenge Scott relished.

“I remember this USA Jesus club he was involved with, back when we were living in Iowa,” Walker says. “It was so apparent that he wanted to reach out and help people in the community. The city hall didn’t have an Iowa flag so he and his friends started a project to buy one. Well, they did just that, then presented it to city hall.”

Walker grimaces when I mention the Left’s rough rhetoric. He pauses and shakes his head. “Scott’s used to that, being part of the whole process,” he says. “He’s got a personal faith and reads Scripture every day, so he’s handling it.”

The small crowd begins to clap. Walker has arrived. The governor greets his supporters, one by one, then slowly makes his way toward the bench. When he spots his father, he doesn’t say a word. He simply opens his arms.

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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