MADISON, Wis. — Rebecca Kleefisch’s candidacy has been off to a rocky start – she’s already irritated with the response to her radical record, and her number one talking point was debunked by Politifact.
It’s not surprising that after stumbling into the race, Kleefisch’s allies have already rushed to create a Super PAC to save her candidacy. But nothing will cover up the fact that Radical Rebecca’s agenda as lieutenant governor deeply hurt Wisconsin.
Read about why Rebecca Kleefisch is wrong for Wisconsin below.
Urban Milwaukee: How Kleefisch Failed On Foxconn
Rebecca Kleefisch had a hard time in the early days of Gov. Scott Walker’s administration.
Her easy win in the Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor in 2010 shocked and dismayed the leaders of Walker’s campaign for governor, who favored Kleefisch’s GOP opponent Brett Davis. Walker’s top aide Keith Gilkes had declared that “we are not touching anything to do with Kleefisch,” calling her “radioactive.”
Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch dismissed Kleefisch as “fluff,” while another Walker staffer declared that “I cannot see how anyone can take this woman seriously.”
In September 2015, Kleefisch and a delegation from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation went on a trade mission to Japan and Taiwan; and in February 2017, she and representatives of the WEDC went on a trade mission to Mexico.
It was on the first of those trade missions, Kleefisch would later claim, that she met with Foxconn officials and urged them to consider development in Wisconsin. So even the project Walker touted as his signature economic development coup was first pushed by his Lt. Governor, according to her.
There is no doubt Kleefisch was a strong proponent of the Foxconn deal, telling Channel 58 that “We are being very aggressive in our plans to assure we are putting together the very best package.” and marveling in 2018 at “how exciting the future is going to be now that Foxconn is joining Wisconsin’s economy.”
So what is the truth here? There are two ways to views Kleefisch’s eight years as Lt. Governor. The first is to take it at her word, that she was Walker’s jobs ambassador, in which case his failed promise to create 250,000 new jobs by the end of his first term falls equally on her.
In short Kleefisch and Walker failed to protect taxpayers, while Gov. Tony Evers did, massively scaling back the contract to allow only maximum tax credits of $80 million. Kleefisch supported what stands as the most embarrassing economic development project in state history.
The other way to view Kleefisch is that she was simply exaggerating her role in Walker’s administration, that she wasn’t really his “jobs ambassador,” probably didn’t coin the central slogan of his campaign, and didn’t play a key role in the Foxconn deal. In which case, there’s little she accomplished in those eight years.
But in either version of her tenure as Lt. Governor (and she clearly prefers the first version), Kleefisch made no effort to protect taxpayers from the debacle of Foxconn.
The Cap Times: Opinion | The urgency of defeating Rebecca Kleefisch
Kleefisch, in addition to Walker’s pro-big business, anti-worker stances, would bring right-wing extremism and intolerance to the governor’s office. One need only look at a thunderbolt comment she made on Sept. 9, shortly after announcing her run for governor. “I will sign a heartbeat bill” she told a radio show host, making clear her intent to bring Texas-style anti-abortion vigilantism to Wisconsin.
Fanaticism is nothing new for Kleefisch. Campaigning along with Walker in 2010, she publicly opposed same-sex partnership — a very limited set of rights for same-sex couples — saying: “At what point are we going to OK marrying inanimate objects? Can I marry this table or this, you know, clock? Can we marry dogs?”
Her views on health care access are callous and cruel. The Walker-Kleefisch regime refused to accept for eight years the substantial annual federal dollars for assisted Medicaid enrollment, with Kleefisch denouncing the Affordable Care Act as an “abomination” and supporting Walker’s participation in the GOP lawsuit to overturn the ACA.
Instead of expanding her appeal, Kleefisch launched her campaign with an embarrassingly predictable rehash of the messaging Trump lost with in 2020. “One year ago, Kenosha burned while Tony Evers failed to lead,” she claims in her announcement video. “Our police deserted and disrespected. Jobs destroyed. Lives were lost and small businesses were burned because our governor sided with rioters instead of the people of this community.”
Trump made a hyper-politicized “presidential” visit to Kenosha in the late summer, and then returned for an incendiary Election Eve rally at which he declared, “If you want your children to be safe … vote for your all-time favorite president.”
It was the wrong message at the wrong time in the wrong place, and the next day Wisconsin voters told Trump so by backing Biden.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Kleefisch attacks Evers over Kenosha but also once said ‘far too many shots’ were fired in police shooting
Republican Rebecca Kleefisch in her run for governor has argued that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers abandoned cops after a police shooting in Kenosha, but in the hours after the incident she echoed Evers’ sentiment by saying too many shots had been fired.
“All I know is what I saw and what I heard, which was far too many shots for a man who had his back turned,” the former lieutenant governor told reporters on Aug. 24, 2020, a day after Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake from behind.
Evers spokesman Sam Roecker said Kleefisch’s reaction to the number of shots fired was like that of other Wisconsinites.
“But instead of working toward justice, equity, and safer communities, it’s clear that now because she’s running for governor, Rebecca Kleefisch has to resort to inventing a new narrative that fits her radical agenda instead of being honest with Wisconsin voters,” Roecker said in a statement.
A year after the violent and fatal protests that took place in Kenosha, and a year before the 2022 election, political opponents are focusing on Gov. Tony Evers and his response to the crisis that left dozens of buildings burned and two dead.
The critique, in short: He did too little, too late.
Most recently, Republican Rebecca Kleefisch, the former lieutenant governor, made such a claim as she launched her bid Sept 9, 2021 to take on Evers, a first-term Democrat.
In an ad, Empower Wisconsin said of Evers and Kenosha violence: “It took the loss of lives before help finally came.”
But the timeline shows Evers had sent in 250 National Guard troops in the days before the night Rittenhouse shot and killed the two men.
We rate this claim False.