Rebecca Kleefisch

Rebecca Kleefisch
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (cropped).jpg
44th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 7, 2019
Governor Scott Walker
Preceded by Barbara Lawton
Succeeded by Mandela Barnes
Personal details
Rebecca Ann Reed

(1975-08-07) August 7, 1975 (age 46)
Pontiac, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Joel Kleefisch
Children 2
Education University of Wisconsin,
Website Campaign website

Rebecca Ann Kleefisch (née Reed; born August 7, 1975) is an American politician and former television news journalist who served as the 44th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin from 2011 to 2019.[1] A member of the Republican Party, she was elected to the position on November 2, 2010, as the running mate of Governor Scott Walker; the pair narrowly lost reelection to a third term in 2018.[2] Kleefisch is a candidate in the 2022 Wisconsin gubernatorial election.

Early life, education, and career

Rebecca Ann Reed was born in Pontiac, Michigan. Her family later relocated to Ohio, where she won the Miss Ohio Teen USA 1994 title. On August 16, 1994, she competed in the nationally televised Miss Teen USA 1994 pageant as Miss Ohio Teen USA in Biloxi, Mississippi, but did not place in the competition. Reed graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[3] She was a reporter for WIFR-TV in Rockford, Illinois, and then was a reporter and later morning anchor for WISN-TV in Milwaukee,[3] before leaving in 2004. Kleefisch formed her own company, Rebecca Kleefisch Enterprises, Inc. and was a contributor to Charlie Sykes' program on WTMJ Radio in Milwaukee.

Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin

Although Kleefisch's husband Joel had been a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly since being elected in 2004, Kleefisch's own first entry into politics began when she ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2010 and won a three-way primary race before being elected in November 2010. She declared her candidacy live via webcam from her kitchen table, expressing concern for the future of her children and touting her "kitchen table common sense."[4]

In 2018, Kleefisch claimed that her campaign opponent Mandela Barnes was kneeling during the U.S. national anthem protests at the Wisconsin State Fair.[5] She later apologized for making the claim.[6]


Following a contentious collective bargaining dispute in 2011, an effort began to recall Walker and Kleefisch. After examining petitions, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board determined there were more than 800,000 valid signatures to hold a recall election.[7] The recall election was held on June 5, 2012.[8] Kleefisch won the recall election.[9] Kleefisch is the only lieutenant governor in the history of any state in the United States to face recall election and ultimately survive a recall.[10]

Political positions

Kleefisch opposes same-sex marriage, as well as same-sex civil unions. She has compared same-sex marriage to marrying a dog or an inanimate object, though she later apologized for that comparison.[11] In arguing against same-sex civil unions, she said, "This doesn't just have roots in the Bible. This has roots in fiscal common sense. We can't, at this point, afford to just be handing out money to anyone."[12][13][14] [15][16]

Kleefisch said in 2009 that there is "no consensus that people have caused climate change."[17]

Kleefisch opposes the Affordable Care Act and has supported efforts to repeal the legislation. She has called the Affordable Care Act "an abomination."[18]

In 2020, she praised Donald Trump's trade policies, as well as his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.[19] After Trump lost the 2020 presidential election and made false claims of fraud while refusing to concede, she defended Trump's false claims of fraud.[20]

In 2021, she called for a ban on sanctuary cities, as well as a ban on the teaching of critical race theory in public schools.[21]

Post-lieutenant governorship

In January 2019,[22] Kleefisch was appointed to serve as the Executive Director of the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission.[23] She served in that position until becoming a Jobs Ambassador for Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin in November 2019.[24] As a jobs ambassador, she promotes careers in the skilled construction trades.[25]

2022 gubernatorial campaign

In September 2021, Kleefisch announced that she would seek the Republican nomination for Governor of Wisconsin in the following year's election.[26] In her announcement, she likened herself to Donald Trump.[21] She began her campaign by criticizing the leadership of incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers and attacking his response to the 2020 Kenosha unrest.[27] In October 2021, she told Republicans that they needed to "hire mercenaries" and engage in "ballot harvesting" (a practice she has called for banning) to help her win the 2022 race.[28] In November 2021, she said that a vaccine requirement for poll workers in Wisconsin was intended to prevent Republicans from becoming poll workers and thus hide wrongdoing.[29] Kleefisch recently sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission, alleging that they broke the law during the 2020 election.[30]

Personal life

Kleefisch is married to former State Representative Joel Kleefisch, who was also a reporter for WISN-TV. They have two daughters.[31] They lived in Oconomowoc, located 16 miles west of Waukesha, Wisconsin, and were members of Crosspoint Community Church, a Christian & Missionary Alliance-affiliated megachurch in Oconomowoc. Since losing re-election, Kleefisch and her family moved to Concord, Wisconsin.[32]


In late August 2010, Kleefisch was diagnosed with colon cancer.[33] She had a tumor removed on September 2, 12 days before she won the primary election.[33] Although cancer-free, two days after she was elected, Kleefisch began elective chemotherapy to ensure that the cancer does not return.[34] By April 2011, she had finished chemotherapy treatment.[35]

Electoral history

Wisconsin gubernatorial election, 2018[36]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tony Evers/Mandela Barnes 1,324,648 49.6
Republican Scott Walker/Rebecca Kleefisch (Incumbent) 1,293,799 48.4
Libertarian Phil Anderson/Patrick Baird 20,320 0.8
Democratic gain from Republican
Wisconsin gubernatorial election, 2014[37]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Scott Walker/Rebecca Kleefisch (Incumbent) 1,259,031 52.29
Democratic Mary Burke/John Lehman 1,121,490 46.58
Libertarian Robert Burke/Joseph Brost 18,375 0.49
Independent Dennis Fehr 9,004 0.37
Majority 137,541 5.71%
Total votes 2,407,900 100
Republican hold
Wisconsin lieutenant governor recall election, 2012 results[38]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rebecca Kleefisch (Incumbent) 1,301,739 52.9
Democratic Mahlon Mitchell 1,156,520 47.1
Total votes 2,458,259 100.0
Republican hold
Wisconsin gubernatorial election, 2010[39]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Scott Walker/ Rebecca Kleefisch 1,128,941 52.29% +6.93%
Democratic Tom Barrett/ Tom Nelson 1,004,303 46.52% -6.24%
Independent Third Party/ Write-In 25,730 1.19%
Majority 124,638 5.77% -1.62%
Turnout 2,158,974
Republican gain from Democratic Swing
Wisconsin lieutenant governor Republican primary election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Rebecca Kleefisch 258,714 46.78
Republican Brett Davis 139,997 25.31
Republican Dave Ross 80,617 14.58
Republican Robert Gerald Lorge 52,076 9.42
Republican Nick Voegeli 21,040 3.80

See also


  1. ^ 'Wisconsin Blue Book 2011–2012,' Biographical Sketch of Rebecca Kleefisch, pg. 4
  2. ^ "Walker wins governor's race on promise of jobs", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 3, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Sykes, Charlie. "Update: Rebecca Kleefisch Announces". WTMJ (AM). Retrieved December 29, 2010.
  4. ^ "Kleefisch Can". July 20, 2010.
  5. ^ "'Rebecca, for real?' Mandela Barnes calls Kleefisch's claims he knelt during anthem 'crazy'". September 17, 2018. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  6. ^ Press, SCOTT BAUER Associated. "Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch apologizes to Mandela Barnes for claim he knelt during anthem". Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  7. ^ "GAB staff finds more than 900,000 valid signatures to recall Walker". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  8. ^ Ramde, Dinesh (March 14, 2012). "Judge approves May 8, June 5 recall dates". Wisconsin Law Journal. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  9. ^ "Kleefisch survives recall". Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  10. ^ "Rebecca Kleefisch survives recall, holds onto Lt. Governor seat". June 5, 2012.
  11. ^ "Kleefisch's uncle objects to anti-gay marriage statement". Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  12. ^ "Kleefisch apologizes for gay marriage comment", The Boston Globe, October 28, 2010.
  13. ^ Shahid, Aliyah (October 29, 2010). "GOP candidate, Rebecca Kleefisch, in Wisconsin: Sorry for comparing gay marriage to marrying a dog". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  14. ^ "WI GOPer Apologizes For Comparing Gay Marriage To Bestiality Or Marrying A Table", Talking Points Memo DC, October 29, 2010.
  15. ^ Bice, Daniel (October 28, 2010). "Kleefisch's uncle objects to anti-gay marriage statement". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  16. ^ "After Comments, Kleefisch's Gay Uncle Supporting Opponent", WISN 12 News, October 28, 2010.
  17. ^ Kleefisch, Rebecca. "Is it cold or is it just me?". RebeccaforReal. Archived from the original on June 5, 2012. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  18. ^ Beck, Molly. "Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, a cancer survivor, pushes back on ad suggesting pre-existing conditions protections are in jeopardy". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  19. ^ Oppenheim, Oren. "At Trump event, Rebecca Kleefisch criticizes state leadership on Kenosha shooting". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  20. ^ Times, Briana Reilly | The Capital. "Wisconsin Republicans grapple with state of party post-Trump". Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Republican Kleefisch enters Wisconsin governor's race". AP NEWS. September 9, 2021. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  22. ^ "Rebecca Kleefisch To Head National Group Commemorating Women's Suffrage". Wisconsin Public Radio. January 23, 2019. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  23. ^ "Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch appointed executive director of the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  24. ^ "Former Lt. Gov. Kleefisch partners with ABC of Wisconsin". ABC Wisconsin. November 12, 2019. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  25. ^ "Movers & Shakers". MKElifestyle. February 21, 2020. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  26. ^ "Former GOP lieutenant governor launches bid to oust Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers". NBC News.
  27. ^ Steinhauser, Paul (September 8, 2021). "Former Wisconsin Lt. Gov Kleefisch launches GOP challenge against Democratic Gov. Evers". Fox News.
  28. ^ "Rebecca Kleefisch says Republicans need to 'hire mercenaries'". 2021. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  29. ^ Marley, Patrick. "Rebecca Kleefisch contends Madison is using a vaccine mandate to keep Republicans from serving as poll workers". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
  30. ^ "Kleefisch Files Lawsuit Against Wisconsin Elections Commission". Rebecca Kleefisch for Governor. November 15, 2021. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  31. ^ "Bio". Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  32. ^ [email protected], Steve Sharp. "Rebecca Kleefisch settling into life after lieutenant governorship". Daily Jefferson County Union. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  33. ^ a b Stein, Jason (September 29, 2010). "Kleefisch treated for cancer". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  34. ^ "Statement From Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch" (Press release). November 4, 2010. Archived from the original on April 3, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  35. ^ Schneider, Jim. "In Focus: Rebecca Kleefisch". WVCY-TV. Retrieved April 15, 2011.
  36. ^ "Wisconsin Governor Election Results". New York Times.
  37. ^ "Wisconsin gubernatorial election, 2014". WTMJ-TV. Milwaukee, WI. Archived from the original on November 7, 2014. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  38. ^ "Wisconsin Recall Election Results Map". Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  39. ^

External links

Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by