Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker believes the "hard left" anger aimed at Wisconsin Republicans is helping to motivate his base, and may even deliver him a third term in the governor's mansion in Madison.
"In a re-elect, particularly for a third term, any governor of any party would be concerned about complacency," Walker said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. "I think ... the Left helps us with that because there's so much vitriol here, so much anger against us by the hard left that that, in turn, inspires not only our base voters, but it makes most everyday voters kind of look at them and wonder, 'what's the big deal?'"
Walker said that on Tuesday, the same day Democratic anger against President Trump was credited with taking the governor's seat in New Jersey away from Republicans, and keeping a Democrat in the governor's mansion in Virginia.
Those Democratic victories had some Republicans nervous about their chances in 2018, and had many in the media cheering that Trump is now vulnerable. Even Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., worries about surging Democrats, who now seem emboldened after the victories.
"Republicans will have to rely on that strong state party and our grassroots effort," Johnson said in an interview. "Now, turnout is certainly going to be dependent on enthusiasm too, and I think we probably saw a high level of enthusiasm, a great deal of incentive for Democrats to turn out in those races."
But Walker seems ready to harness the angry energy of the Left.
"It doesn't bother us, but it is this sort of thing that almost sends a message to our electorate that this election is real, we can't sit on the sidelines," Walker said. "It's almost like a flag goes up and reminds them to get motivated."
He also agreed with congressional Republicans that the best way to stay relevant is to pass relevant legislation. Many Republicans said Tuesday's elections show they need to pass tax reform, or 2018 will be a problem.
"Pass big, bold reforms. Get it done," Walker said. "[Voters] like the fact that we make big, bold promises and we deliver on them. The problem I see in Washington is they haven't done that — yet. I'm an optimist."
"If they can deliver on that. I think they'll do well. If they don't, they'll feel a little bit of a backlash come next fall," he said. "The good news in Wisconsin is if people are upset with Washington, we're kind of the counter to that."
Walker's own accomplishments have made him a hero among Republicans. After his push to curtail collective bargaining rights in 2011, Walker signed legislation making Wisconsin a "right-to-work" state in 2015 and eliminated the state property tax this year.
He also has recovered from the nosedive he saw in his approval ratings in the state that came during his presidential campaign. According to a Marquette poll released in late June, 48 percent approve of Walker's performance, and 48 percent disapprove, which is the first time his numbers haven't been underwater since Oct. 2014.
Walker thinks his organization is up to the task of delivering a victory in his fourth campaign. He won in 2010 and 2014, and successfully turned away a recall effort in 2012.
"We've got an incredible organization," Walker said. "We're strong. We've been battle-tested."
Some also believe that any of the Trump backlash that might exist in Wisconsin will be taken out on the Republican Senate nominee who battles Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who is up for re-election in 2018.
Meanwhile, Walker doesn't yet have an opponent. Eight Democrats are battling to take on Walker next November, and the party's nominee will be determined next August.