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Watch Now: Kleefisch all but confirms a run for governor at Lincoln Day Dinner in Kenosha
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Watch Now: Kleefisch all but confirms a run for governor at Lincoln Day Dinner in Kenosha

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Rebecca Kleefisch

Former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch spoke to a crowd of more than 100 Saturday in Kenosha during a Lincoln Day Dinner at The Italian American Club, during which she all-but-confirmed she will be running for governor as a Republican against Tony Evers.

KENOSHA — Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch on Saturday night all but confirmed that she will be running to unseat Democratic incumbent Tony Evers as Wisconsin’s governor next year.

During a Lincoln Day Dinner speech at The Italian American Club in Kenosha, in which she compared Evers to Goliath and said that the United States would benefit if Donald Trump were still president, she talked up the Republican goal of tightening Wisconsin’s election laws, to address what she alleged was “fishiness” in the 2020 election.

She then said that, should someone else be governor in 2022, and election bills — such as ones that would ban cities from accepting donations to help fund election efforts — were on that new governor’s desk, then “I can tell you she will sign them on day one,” she said. Kleefisch strongly emphasized the word “she,” receiving a loud round of applause from the crowd of more than 100. Wisconsin has never had a female governor. Evers earlier this month confirmed that he will be seeking re-election.

Former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch spoke to a crowd of more than 100 on June 19 in Kenosha during a Lincoln Day Dinner at The Italian…

‘You’re not wrong’

When approached after the speech by a reporter who asked, “Why haven’t you just announced you’re running for governor yet?” she replied with a question: “Why do you think that I’m going to be running?” The reporter pointed to the comments she made during the speech, and then asked again why she hasn’t formally announced she’s running. Kleefisch replied “You’re not wrong,” as she left the building.

Making the rounds

Kleefisch was Scott Walker’s lieutenant governor in his eight years as Wisconsin’s governor, 2011-19. Before that, she was a television news anchor. Kleefisch has been showing all the signs of someone gearing up for a statewide election run. She said that, through her nonprofit The 1848 Project that advances conservative policy in Wisconsin, she participated in more than 80 events in 2020. During her speech, she also lambasted Evers, saying he was too inactive during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular by not visiting Kenosha until four days after Jacob Blake was shot by a Kenosha police officer and and by issuing a statement in support of Blake as riots were just beginning in the city. Before her speech, wearing a bright red suit and an affable smile, she made sure to stop by each of the 18 tables at the dinner, shaking hands and telling jokes. The emcee of Saturday’s dinner —

Brian Schimming

, a former Walker-era appointed government official who also has been a radio host, lobbyist and Wisconsin GOP leader — also helped plant the seeds for a Kleefisch gubernatorial run. He praised her refusal to back down from

Act 10 legislation more than a decade ago

, which faced massive protests and eventually ended most unions for public employees in Walker’s effort to balance Wisconsin’s budget. “Conservatives are not afraid of the mob … They did the right thing (regarding Act 10). They changed state history,” Schimming said. “You need people in the governor’s office who are not going to blink in the face of adversity … She didn’t blink. She didn’t back off.”

KENOSHA — Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch on Saturday night all but confirmed that she will be running to unseat Democratic incumbent Tony Evers as Wisconsin’s governor next year.

During a Lincoln Day Dinner speech at The Italian American Club in Kenosha, in which she compared Evers to Goliath and said that the United States would benefit if Donald Trump were still president, she talked up the Republican goal of tightening Wisconsin’s election laws, to address what she alleged was “fishiness” in the 2020 election.

She then said that, should someone else be governor in 2022, and election bills — such as ones that would ban cities from accepting donations to help fund election efforts — were on that new governor’s desk, then “I can tell you she will sign them on day one,” she said.

Kleefisch strongly emphasized the word “she,” receiving a loud round of applause from the crowd of more than 100. Wisconsin has never had a female governor.

Evers earlier this month confirmed that he will be seeking re-election.

Former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch spoke to a crowd of more than 100 on June 19 in Kenosha during a Lincoln Day Dinner at The Italian…

‘You’re not wrong’

When approached after the speech by a reporter who asked, “Why haven’t you just announced you’re running for governor yet?” she replied with a question: “Why do you think that I’m going to be running?”

The reporter pointed to the comments she made during the speech, and then asked again why she hasn’t formally announced she’s running. Kleefisch replied “You’re not wrong,” as she left the building.

Making the rounds

Kleefisch was Scott Walker’s lieutenant governor in his eight years as Wisconsin’s governor, 2011-19. Before that, she was a television news anchor.

Kleefisch has been showing all the signs of someone gearing up for a statewide election run.

She said that, through her nonprofit The 1848 Project that advances conservative policy in Wisconsin, she participated in more than 80 events in 2020.

During her speech, she also lambasted Evers, saying he was too inactive during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular by not visiting Kenosha until four days after Jacob Blake was shot by a Kenosha police officer and and by issuing a statement in support of Blake as riots were just beginning in the city.

Before her speech, wearing a bright red suit and an affable smile, she made sure to stop by each of the 18 tables at the dinner, shaking hands and telling jokes.

The emcee of Saturday’s dinner — Brian Schimming, a former Walker-era appointed government official who also has been a radio host, lobbyist and Wisconsin GOP leader — also helped plant the seeds for a Kleefisch gubernatorial run. He praised her refusal to back down from Act 10 legislation more than a decade ago, which faced massive protests and eventually ended most unions for public employees in Walker’s effort to balance Wisconsin’s budget.

“Conservatives are not afraid of the mob … They did the right thing (regarding Act 10). They changed state history,” Schimming said. “You need people in the governor’s office who are not going to blink in the face of adversity … She didn’t blink. She didn’t back off.”

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