UPDATE: Gov. Walker says he wants to finish college degree, what - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Gov. Walker says he wants to finish college degree, what are the political implications?

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Scott Walker said Wednesday he would like to eventually finish his college degree.

Walker left Marquette University 34 credits short of graduating during what would have been his senior year. He said he did so to take a job with a chapter of the American Red Cross.

But the Governor said he would consider finishing the coursework needed to become a college graduate through the University of Wisconsin's new, Flexible Option program. Flexible Option is an allows people to take college classes and earn credits online.

Walker, speaking to the media after an event in Middleton on Wednesday, said he would love to one day enroll in the program provided he can obtain an applicable degree.

"My major was primarily political science," Walker said.

"Right now the Flex Option is primarily focused on key industries like engineering, some related to health care and others out there," Walker said. "As it expands I would certainly be interested in doing it."

Walker emphasized he does not think a college degree is a necessity for elected officials.

"I don't think I need a college degree to be in the state assembly, to be county executive or to be governor," Walker said. "In the end I think most people... judge me based on performance at what we are able to do."

The Governor said completing his degree would encourage other adults who left higher education to do the same.

Dr. Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the UW-Madison, said voters will likely give Walker's educational background some thought. But he said it won't be a game changer in this fall's gubernatorial race or the 2016 presidential election should the Governor decide to seek higher office.

"I think it's a small factor," Burden said. "It's one of those credentials candidates like to have, and the bigger the stage is, the more important it is for candidates to have those credentials."

"Walker has obviously been elected Governor and survived a recall election without having a college degree, so it's obviously not hurt him terribly," Burden said.

But Burden added a lack of a college degree could hurt Walker with certain voters -- especially voters in other states Walker would have to woo should he seek the presidency.

"Most of our recent presidents have been Ivy League graduates," Burden said. "So there is that sense of not wanting someone who's above you, necessarily, but who has the credentials and the background."

"Getting a college degree, part of that is saying 'I finished what I started,'" Burden said. "So I think (the Governor) probably feels badly he didn't finish and it may cast some doubt for voters or some supporters."


MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Walker says he'd like to earn his college degree through UW's new flex-option program.

When he left Marquette University in 1990, he was 34 credit hours short of completing his degree.
After speaking to elementary students in Middleton on Wednesday, the governor was asked if he thinks he needs a college degree to run for president.

" I dont think I needed a college degree to be in the state assembly, to be county executive, or to be governor." Walker said. "I don't know about any other positions but in the end I think most people for example as governor judge me based on performance and what we were able to do."

The governor said he wouldn't pursue his degree until the flex option program has courses that fit areas he studied, like political science or finance.

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