Scott Walker’s chief of staff quits amid plummeting poll numbers

AP and WiG reports

Scott Walker’s longtime chief of staff Eric Schutt is stepping down, the governor’s office announced.

Schutt is leaving “to pursue other opportunities and to spend more time with family,” Walker’s office said in a statement. It did not say what those opportunities are.

Schutt played a key role in helping pass Walker’s three state budgets and his legislation repealing collective bargaining for most public employees.

Walker’s campaign has suffered from declining poll numbers, a weak performance in the first GOP presidential debate, ongoing scandals, and growing national awareness of his economic failures as governor. A recent Marquette University Law School poll found Walker losing to Hillary Clinton among Wisconsin voters in a theoretical matchup. The poll also showed Walker’s favorability rating falling below 40 percent for the first time.

Schutt’s replacement effective Sept. 4 will be Rich Zipperer, who had been deputy chief of staff since 2012.

Walker expressed gratitude to Schutt, who became chief of staff 10 months into Walker’s first term in 2011.

“He will be greatly missed. Eric has always displayed great integrity and strength in leadership. … He is highly respected, solution-oriented, and a great example of what it means to be an exceptional leader,” Walker said.

Walker’s campaign also announced internal promotions: Jocelyn Webster will step up from communications director to deputy chief of staff for communications; Cindy Polzin will become deputy chief of staff for budget, legislative and intergovernmental affairs; senior adviser Matt Moroney was named deputy chief of staff for operations; and Katie Ignatowski will move up from deputy to chief legal counsel. Walker said he’s confident the transitions will be seamless.