Rebecca Kleefisch is now all in for the 2022 race for governor

Her announcement on Fox news leads with Kenosha burning

By: - September 9, 2021 8:57 am

Screenshot from Kleefisch’s campaign announcement of her walking streets of Kenosha

It was a very badly kept secret that former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch planned to run against Gov. Tony Evers in the 2022 election. She had been running a nonprofit organization she named the 1848 Project as a shadow campaign for months as she traveled the state campaigning. And after using the nonprofit to release a campaign platform she called an “agenda,” last week, it was discovered she’d quietly filed paperwork to run with the state Ethics Commission.

But her official announcement on Thursday morning, along with Democrats’ response, painted a clearer picture of how both would approach the race.

As many candidates do these days, Kleefisch announced in a video. In a move that is not common for Wisconsin candidates for a state office, the first place that she shared the video to break the news was via cable TV’s Fox News Channel.

And the station reported it with this lead: “In a video announcement shared first nationally with Fox News, Kleefisch charged that ‘Tony Evers’ entire term has been marked by failure and weakness. One year ago Kenosha burned while Tony Evers failed to lead,’ the former lieutenant governor claimed at the top of her video.”

Homepage of Rebecca Kleefisch’s campaign website.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin was ready with its aggressive response in the form of a website that revealed the message it plans to use against her right in its web address:

“Rebecca Kleefisch: Radically Wrong. Wisconsin can’t afford Rebecca Kleefisch’s radical record. Whether it’s supporting a disastrous economic agenda for Wisconsin or her history of dangerous and derogatory remarks, it’s clear where she stands,” the site states.

Kleefisch has been campaigning for months while not a candidate so the Democrats have an entire media campaign ready to go. “Radical Rebecca Kleefisch is too extreme for Wisconsin,” party chair Ben Wikler said in a statement. “During her tenure as lieutenant governor, Kleefisch championed far-right policies that hurt Wisconsinites and eviscerated protections for workers. Alongside Gov. Scott Walker, Kleefisch railed against affordable health care expansion, gutted funding for public education, and slashed rights for workers, resulting in a historic teacher shortage and massive inequalities between school districts.”

Homepage of anti-Kleefisch website by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

The state Democratic Party also hit her for “spreading misleading information about COVID-19 and vaccines, buying into conspiracy theories about the election, and using inappropriate, inflammatory rhetoric.” Democrats already have a list of some of what they dub her most inappropriate remarks: “She has made radically dangerous statements, including racially derogatory remarks, insulting rape victims, and equating gay marriage to bestiality.”

Kleefisch will campaign using her first name as the identifier, as she does on Twitter with @RebeccaforReal.

Her campaign website,, brands her as a “conservative mom,” and her video announcement not only begins with Kenosha burning and her description of Evers as “weak,” it continues at the top of the video with a law enforcement agenda including “deploying police into high crime areas,” banning sanctuary cities and “securing” the United States’ southern border.

Her background as a newscaster came in handy for her video, which uses the cadence of the nightly news.

Other issues she raises include election reform, saying she’ll ensure people that their vote counts. She shows herself walking through factories and accuses Evers of “paying people not to work,” and giving pay raises to state employees. She presents herself as siding with blue collar workers, even though her administration helped push through Act 10 that stripped public sector unions of their power and workers of their bargaining rights as well as “Right to Work” legislation that weakened private sector unions. In her education platform touts Wisconsin’s school voucher programs supporting private schools and keeping schools open during the pandemic. “I’ll expand school choice and empower parents to pick the schools that are best for their children,” she states in her video.



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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin was the Wisconsin Examiner's founding Deputy Editor, serving from its launch July 1, 2019, until Feb. 1, 2022. She is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications before returning to journalism at the Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.