The midterm elections are quickly approaching, and it will be imperative for Wisconsin Republicans to defeat Governor Tony Evers. If Republicans can take control of the governor's office, they will be able to pass crucial school choice legislation, tax reform and further invest in public safety.
Despite the political landscape appearing favorable for Wisconsin Republicans in the upcoming election cycle, they are not a guaranteed victory. Wisconsin Republicans have lost 11 of the last 12 statewide races. Therefore, it is understandable that there seems to be a lot of public unease among Republicans regarding whether they possess a formidable and qualified candidate to take down Evers in November.
In theory, Republicans should nominate a candidate who retains established credibility and experience in conservative politics, motivates and relates to the grassroots activists, can appeal to younger and older voters and holds a clear and defensible policy agenda.
Rebecca Kleefisch is the candidate who possesses all the necessary tools and characteristics to defeat Evers.
Kleefisch served as Scott Walker's Lieutenant Governor from 2011to 2019. She was in lockstep with Governor Walker as the administration passed conservative reforms such as Act 10, which addressed a 3.6-billion-dollar budget deficit by limiting public sector unions' bargaining power.
The Walker-Kleefisch administration would face the wrath of nearly 100,000 thousand protestors after the legislation's passage. The protestors occupied the Wisconsin Capitol for almost two weeks, but Walker and Kleefisch didn't budge.
The protest culminated in the 2012 recall election, in which Walker and Kleefisch were both on the ballot. Both were vindicated when Wisconsin Voters re-elected the pair by a higher percentage than they were initially elected in 2010.
Shouldn't Republicans want to nominate a candidate like Kleefisch — a candidate who not only has a proven track record of passing conservative reforms but also successfully defending them?
Some people might argue that Kleefisch's role as Lieutenant Governor was limited, and Walker should receive all the credit for passing the legislation. To refute this claim, listen to what Walker said about Kleefisch. In 2019, three years before the upcoming gubernatorial election, Walker encouraged Kleefisch to run.
"I think she would win, and I think she would be a hell of a great governor if she was elected," Walker told the Milwaukee Press Club.
Walker is more familiar with Kleefisch's governing ability than anyone. If he had enough confidence in her ability to encourage her to run three years ago publicly, questions from Republicans regarding her ability to govern should be put to rest.
Walker doubled down on his confidence earlier this year and formally endorsed Kleefisch.
Despite serving as Lieutenant Governor for eight years and winning election three separate times, Kleefisch is not a traditional establishment Republican. She is a grassroots activist who clawed her way to the pinnacle of state politics without losing her connection to the grassroots.
In 2010, when she was running for the Republican nomination as Lieutenant Governor, nobody thought Kleefisch would win. She was a former news anchor who was simply concerned about high taxes and government waste. However, despite very few party officials taking her bid seriously, she out-worked and defeated other establishment-backed candidates to win the Republican nomination.
Kleefisch hasn't lost her connection to the grassroots, even as her political profile grows. In the April elections, she invested in local school board elections and saw 81 out of her 116 endorsed candidates win.
Often when a politician serves multiple terms in office and attains a high media profile, they'll lose their touch with the grassroots and build a reputation as a "political insider." Kleefisch hasn't lost her touch; instead, she's strengthened her connection with grassroots activists by focusing on grassroots issues.
It's essentially inevitable that Democrats, at least for the foreseeable future, will always perform better among young people than Republicans. However, the under-30 voting bloc will be crucial in the upcoming gubernatorial election.
In 2018, when Tony Evers defeated Scott Walker in the gubernatorial election, under-30 voters supported Evers by a 23-point margin, 60% to 37%. Compared to 2014, when Scott Walker defeated Mary Burke, under-30 voters supported Burke by only a 4-point margin, 51% to 47%.
There is no better Republican to relate with young voters than a mother who has shown a unique ability to enthuse crowds of young adults and young women in particular. Kleefisch has served as the Executive Director of the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission, where she launched the country's efforts to commemorate and educate America about the 100th anniversary of women earning suffrage. If elected, she will be the first female Governor in state history.
Lastly, Kleefisch has a specific policy vision for the state of Wisconsin. She's not just running as an "outsider" or former Lieutenant Governor; she has her own plan to fix the problems facing the people of Wisconsin. After losing re-election in 2018, she spent time traveling around the state learning about the issues people face,turning those issues into an actionable plan with solutions.
Through her policy organization, the 1848 Project, she has outlined specific solutions for investing in workers, improving public education, bettering healthcare, reforming big government and protecting public safety. Kleefisch isn't just running on a platform that she's going to "shake things up in Madison," but has a practical plan to solve the issues facing the people of Wisconsin.
It's not unhealthy for a party to have competitive primaries, but it should not be lost on Republicans that Rebecca Kleefisch has a track record of passing and defending conservative reforms. She identifies with the grassroots and can effectively communicate with young people. She has a forward-looking policy vision for the state of Wisconsin.
Rebecca Kleefisch is the best candidate Republicans can nominate to defeat Tony Evers.
Tripp Grebe is a Junior studying Political Science and History. Do you agree that Rebecca Kleefisch is the best Republican candidate choice for Wisconsin governor? Send all comments to Opinion@dailycardinal.com.