- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has tapped a national political strategist to serve as his campaign manager should he decide to run for president
- Rick Wiley is a former Republican National Committee political director and veteran of multiple presidential campaigns
Walker, who was sworn in to a second term in Madison this week, quietly brought on Rick Wiley, a former Republican National Committee political director and veteran of multiple presidential campaigns, about a month ago to build a political operation in advance of the 2016 race, the sources said.
Walker's moves are the latest in a swirl of recent activity from big-name Republicans eyeing a White House bid. Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum have all maneuvered quickly since the New Year to hire staff, court donors and remove potential obstacles to running.
Wiley, who declined to comment on the job, has been aggressively reaching out to potential staffers in recent weeks. And Walker himself will attend the RNC's winter meeting in San Diego next week to meet with committee members, including delegations from the early primary and caucus states that kick off the presidential nominating process.
One source close to Walker told CNN that the governor has no timeline for announcing a presidential bid but will be forming "some kind of entity in the coming weeks to lend itself as a vehicle" -- likely a leadership PAC -- before moving forward with a full-blown campaign. Walker and his aides have said that he will not announce his intentions until after the Wisconsin legislative session concludes this year.
A native midwesterner who once worked for the Wisconsin Republican Party, Wiley advised several gubernatorial campaigns, including Walker's, during the 2014 election cycle. He was RNC political director in 2012 and previously worked on the presidential campaigns of Rudy Giuliani in 2008 and George W. Bush's re-election in 2004.
Wiley had also been mentioned a possible campaign manager for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Wiley works at the same consulting firm, Mercury LLC, as a Christie's chief political guru Michael DuHaime.
"The governor is definitely committed to putting a great team around him," the source close to the Walker said.
Walker has demonstrated his political toughness with three statewide victories in four years — his 2010 election, a 2012 recall attempt after a bruising fight with Democrats and organized labor, and his 2014 re-election — and has a tightly-knit crew of aides and loyalists in Wisconsin.
But some conservatives writers and even members of his own team have said the governor needs to bring on more advisers with national experience if he hopes to win the GOP nomination in 2016.