Boots & Sabers

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Tag: Rebecca Kleefisch

Republican primary race enters final stretch

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week:

With three weeks to go until the primary election for governor, the Republican race just took the last turn toward the finish line and the cars are starting to swerve with melting tires and engines are smoking. I will forgo any more hackneyed race car metaphors for the remainder of the column and allow the reader to conjure their own relevant imagery.


In a somewhat surprising twist, Kevin Nicholson dropped out last week. Although his name will still appear on the ballot, he is no longer campaigning and has withdrawn himself from consideration. With a consistent 10% of the Republican electorate supporting him, he acknowledged that his odds of winning were slim. Also, in correctly understanding the mood of the Republican base this year, he stated that he did not want to go negative on his opponents in an effort to change the election’s dynamics.


Nicholson affirmed his commitment to support whichever Republican wins the nomination, which is also the mood that most Republicans are in this year. In a year when frustrated Republicans are looking for an outsider to shake up Madison, Nicholson was the only true outsider and could not attract enough support to win. His withdrawal from the race was done in a smart and classy way such that we hope to see him remain a significant figure in Wisconsin Republican politics for years to come. With Timothy Ramthun still struggling to get more than 3% support, the primary election is really down to two Republican juggernauts — Tim Michels and Rebecca Kleefisch. Up until last week, all of the candidates had been working very hard to stay positive and focused on how bad Governor Tony Evers has been for Wisconsin. After pouring money into advertising with a message that is resonating with voters, recent poling seems to indicate that Michels is pulling into the lead. This has triggered a change in the campaign with Kleefisch and her surrogates beginning to take some negative shots at Michels.


Negative campaigning is a necessary and important part of politics. While voters always carp about negative ads, they are also reliably swayed by them. Politics has never been pickleball. Negative campaigning also serves an important role in making sure that the voters are aware of a candidate’s bad spots before casting their votes. After all, the candidate is not going to go negative on themselves, so it is up to the candidate’s opponents to do so. It is up to the voters to decide if the negative aspects of a candidate are legitimate and important. Negative campaigning is particularly important in a primary election so that the eventual nominee has been properly vetted and considered before entering the general election. While the whole process can be unseemly, it is the best way to weed out unseemly candidates if it is done well.


The Kleefisch campaign is criticizing Michels for being a leader in industry trade groups that have supported increasing infrastructure spending and the increased taxes that go with it. Michels claims that while he served in leadership on behalf of his family’s company, he has never personally supported raising taxes. Both assertions may be true. Interestingly, Kleefisch is not attacking Michels for the well-documented fact that he has been a part-time resident of Wisconsin for several years with a large home on the East Coast. Evers will surely attack Michels for that if he is the nominee, but Kleefisch is keeping her fire on perceived policy differences.


What is really happening is a continuation of the generational and ideological clash in the Wisconsin Republican electorate. With support from the old Republican guard like Tommy Thompson and coming from the conventional Big Business-Republican symbiosis, Michels represents an older style of conservatism. With support from the new Republican guard like Scott Walker and coming from a grass roots with a sharper edge, Kleefisch represents the modern conservative mold. Both candidates come from established wings of the Wisconsin Republican Party that have been wrestling for supremacy for almost 20 years.


While not preordained, it is probable that whoever the Republican nominee is will oust Governor Evers and set the direction of the state Republican Party for years to come. Do Wisconsin’s Republicans want Thompson Republicanism or Walker Republicanism?

Kleefisch and Michels in Dead Heat

Interesting readout from the latest Marquette Poll

Michels and Kleefisch are tied. What’s interesting is where Michels’ support so far has come from. Ramthun and Nicholson are virtually the same. They clearly have a loyal, if small, support base that isn’t moving off of them. Of Michels 27% support, 14 points came from the pool of undecided and 6 points came from Kleefisch.

It appears that there was a portion of the Republican base that was undecided because they were unhappy with all of the candidates. About a third of them came off the fence to support Michels. And almost 20% of Kleefisch’s support has fled to Michels. This is after a major media blitz by Michels without anyone really going negative on him.

Now what? My guess is that the people who are planning to vote for Ramthun and Nicholson don’t move. They may bleed a point or two one way or the other, but they appear to have peaked. That leaves about 85% of the GOP base for Michels and Kleefisch to fight for. They will need about 42%-44% of the vote to win a plurality.

At this point, I don’t think that Michels or Kleefisch can take votes away from the other. Their core bases are set. That means that the only pool of votes to get are the remainder of the undecideds. I also don’t think that the remaining undecideds will break from Ramthun or Nicholson in any great numbers. Those two candidates have very specific messages and if they were going to work on an undecided primary voter at this point, it would have. That means that Kleefisch or Michels will have to win over half of the remaining undecideds to win.

So the real question is, why are those primary voters still undecided? What are they waiting for? What are they not finding in the existing slate of candidates? The first candidate who figures that out will win.


Kleefisch Promises to Back the Badge

Yes, yes, and yes. I would argue that more police are useless if we do not actually lock up the criminals they arrest. Judicial reform must go hand in glove with these initiatives.

The Republican then outlined her plan to help boost law enforcement in the state; promising that if elected she would hire up to 1,000 additional police officers while also pushing bail and sentencing reform.


“We will do it in our first executive budget,” said Kleefisch. “We will use our Wisconsin State Patrol to surge where violent crime is surging and we do not yet have enough police recruits.”


She promised to fill those jobs both with those who are up and coming through the academies and by aggressively recruiting officers that may have been let go in other states due to vaccine mandates. “Let’s thrown down the welcome mat here in the great state of Wisconsin to make sure they take our great Wisconsin jobs in law enforcement. Let’s do it starting in January.”


Kleefisch also promised to use executive powers to fire Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. Many Republicans have criticized him for allowing Darrell Brooks to walk on a low bond for charges that he tried to run over the mother of his child. That was just days before he’s said to have driven an SUV into the route of the Waukesha Christmas Parade last November. Six people died, and dozens were injured in that incident.


“Those deaths, those injuries are to be laid directly at the feet of the Milwaukee County District Attorney who said he knew that his policy of setting low or no bail would lead to people dying. Rather than hang his head in shame he continues to run on these policies,” said Kleefisch.


“It is time for a Governor to actually back the badge. We must celebrate, we must respect, and we must stand with those who stand for us on the thin blue line,” she added.

Johnson, Kleefisch lead Republican ballot in November

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

After only a year of Democrats running Washington, the country is on fire. Our borders are open, we are seeing the highest inflation in 40 years, grocery store shelves are sparse, violent crime is shattering our peace, COVID is raging more than ever, and America has not been this weak on the international stage since Grover Cleveland sat in the Oval Office. With all indications that this year will see massive Republican victories at the ballot box in an attempt to reclaim our nation, Wisconsin has two very strong contenders to lead the ballot.




It is easy to tell when a conservative is making a difference when the media continually smears him as “controversial.” Liberals like their Republicans to be docile and Senator Johnson is anything but that. Wisconsinites have been well-served by Senator Johnson and he has earned another term.




On the issues, Kleefisch is ardently pro-life, an enthusiastic supporter of school choice, defender of the 2nd Amendment, and supports, and is supported by, law enforcement. Kleefisch is exactly the kind of smart conservative communicator that Wisconsin needs after four years of dreary malaise under Tony Evers.

Sensenbrenner Endorses Kleefisch

I agree. Kleefisch is conservative, aggressive, intelligent, and a problem solver. There’s no reason to muck around. She has my support.

WAUKESHA — On Thursday, former longtime Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner announced his endorsement of Rebecca Kleefisch.


“From Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump, I spent my career working alongside strong conservative icons to accomplish our shared goals, and we had a lot of success. I know what conservative leadership looks like, and Rebecca Kleefisch is the real deal,” Sensenbrenner said in a statement.


“Early on, my late wife, Cheryl, and I spotted Rebecca s unparalleled tenacity and came to know well her leadership abilities. She beat the odds as an outsider running for lieutenant governor in 2010, and she even beat cancer that same year. She has been crucial to the conservative reforms in Wisconsin state government. No one will out-work Rebecca Kleefisch. No one will fight harder for our conservative ideals than Rebecca Kleefisch.”

Rebecca Kleefisch Announces Run for Governor

Here we go!

In an expected move, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch on Thursday formally announced her gubernatorial bid for 2022.


The Republican and former TV news anchor, who spent eight years in office with former Gov. Scott Walker, is expected to face a contested GOP primary next fall, but Kleefisch made clear in an announcement video released Thursday that her sights are already set on unseating Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who is seeking a second term after defeating Walker in 2018.

“I am running because I have two kids who I want to choose Wisconsin to live their American dreams and one day raise families here,” Kleefisch said in a statement. “But that is only possible if we start putting the people first. We need safe communities, great education with real choice and real standards, and good-paying jobs.”

I like Kleefisch a lot. She’s smart, passionate, articulate, unapologetically conservative, and works hard. She’s everything that Evers isn’t.

Move Wisconsin Government Into Wisconsin

Rebecca Kleefisch is right.

As politicians debate the need to get government workers back into the office, we should act on a major lesson from this pandemic: if the state government can function with its state employees working from home, it can certainly function with state agencies headquartered outside of Madison.


That’s why Wisconsin’s government should focus on moving agencies out of Madison to where they fit best. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture can be closer to real Wisconsin dairy farmers than Mickies Dairy Bar in Madison. That goes for other state agencies too, starting with the Department of Natural Resources.


Situating our agencies in and around the communities they serve will help our public servants hear directly from Wisconsin citizens who otherwise feel voiceless. It also saves taxpayers from the sky-high office costs in the City of Madison, and allows parts of the state other than Madison to benefit from the positive economic impact generated by state government.

B&S Makes the News

I agree with this blogger fellow.

Owen Robinson, a conservative columnist and blogger, said that discussing a Kleefisch governorship is premature, but added that Kleefisch has been a strong lieutenant governor.

“Rebecca Kleefisch is a very intelligent woman and she’s certainly risen. She’s been a great lieutenant governor,” said Robinson.

Tony Palmeri, a professor at University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, sees things differently.

“She has not impressed most people as a policy wonk. I would envision her as being more of an active promoter of the state of Wisconsin, which is really what the lieutenant governor’s role has become since the powers of it have become very minimal,” said Palmeri.

Robinson agreed that the Kleefisch doesn’t have a long track record of accomplishments simply because of the minimal duties required by the office of the lieutenant governor.

“She’s out there working with businesses and working in a lot of areas. Bearing in mind, as lieutenant governor, she has virtually no power to actually do anything. She doesn’t have a lot of track record in elected office to really know where she is,” said Robinson.

Added Robinson: “She’s certainly been competent in her current position. Should Gov. Walker be elected to the White House, we’re going to have a woman governor of Wisconsin, and I think we should celebrate that.”



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