Remember the ultrasound issue that dogged Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell?

Democrats believe Gov. Scott Walker just handed them a sledgehammer to pound him with in 2016 by okaying similar legislation.

The GOP governor quietly signed a measure Friday which requires women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds and doctors who perform abortions to obtain admitting privileges.  Opponents have already vowed a legal challenge.

Democrats used the ultrasound issue to great effect in 2012 in order to soil the GOP brand and paint their candidates as anti-woman and outside the mainstream.

But Walker’s move didn’t come out of nowhere.  Last month, he indicated he would sign the bill into law, telling reporters, “I don’t have any problem with ultrasound.  I think most people think ultrasounds are just fine.”

Democrats were already sizing up the political implications of the move Friday afternoon, viewing it as a way for Walker to get a step to the right of his 2016 GOP competition on the ever-emotional issue of abortion.

“This is a good example of the damage Gov. Walker is willing to inflict on the women of Wisconsin in order to win a Tea Party Republican national primary,” said Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal outfit One Wisconsin Now.

Considering Gov. Rick Perry’s very public tussle with abortion-rights state Sen. Wendy Davis and reports signaling Sen. Marco Rubio’s interest in carrying federal anti-abortion legislation, one takeaway is clear: Republicans don’t seem anxious to run away from the cause, even in the face of likely Democratic-fueled blowback.