Rebecca Kleefisch

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Rebecca Kleefisch
File:Kleefisch Rebecca LtGov mug-309.jpg
44th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Governor Scott Walker
Preceded by Barbara Lawton
Personal details
Born Rebecca Reed
(1975-08-07) August 7, 1975 (age 43)
Pontiac, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Joel Kleefisch
Residence Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
Alma mater University of Wisconsin,
Occupation Journalist
Religion Christian & Missionary Alliance

Rebecca Kleefisch (née Reed; born August 7, 1975) is an American former television news anchor and politician, who is currently serving as the 44th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin.[1] She was elected to the position on November 2, 2010, as the running mate of Governor Scott Walker.[2] She and Walker were the subjects of a recall election on June 5, 2012.[3] She won the recall election, and became the first Lieutenant Governor to face and win a recall election.[4]

Early life, education and career

Rebecca Ann Reed was born in Pontiac, Michigan. Her family later relocated to Ohio where she won the 1994 Miss Ohio Teen-USA title. On August 16, 1994, she competed in the nationally televised 1994 Miss Teen-USA pageant as Miss Ohio Teen-USA in Biloxi, Mississippi, but did not place in the competition. Reed graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[5] She was a reporter for WIFR-TV in Rockford, Illinois, and then was a reporter and later morning anchor for WISN-TV ABC affiliate Channel 12 in Milwaukee,[5] 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.

Political career

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."[6]

Kleefisch's campaign quickly garnered notice, including an appearance on Fox News to discuss the rise of conservative women called "Mama Grizzlies", a term coined by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.[7] Her campaign received wide recognition for its use of social media, employing heavy use of her Facebook[8] and Twitter[9] feeds to engage voters and build her message.

Kleefisch made national news during the Wisconsin gubernatorial race in October 2010 when footage of an interview she had done just weeks after she announced her run was uncovered. The hour-long interview contained footage where she showed concern about changing existing marriage laws and discussed where marriage laws might go if changed. "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. This is a slippery slope in addition to that — at what point are we going to okay marrying inanimate objects? Can I marry this table, or this — you know, clock? Can we marry dogs? This is ridiculous. Biblically, again I'm going to go right back to my fundamental Christian beliefs, marriage is between one man and one woman."[10][11] The story became national news[12][13][14] after it was discovered that Kleefisch's uncle Chris Pfauser has been in an openly gay relationship for 18 years, and Pfauser said after hearing the comments that he would vote for his niece's opponent.

Kleefisch said in 2009 that there is "no consensus that people have caused climate change."[15]

The Walker/Kleefisch ticket won the general election on November 2, 2010 and re-election on November 4, 2014. She is currently the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin.


Rebecca Kleefisch at a Marquette University political rally for Mitt Romney, September 2012.

As she promised in her campaign, once elected, Kleefisch immediately began cold calling businesses from neighboring states, encouraging them to come to Wisconsin, which she declared "Open For Business". She was credited for helping to broker the growth of a Two Rivers, Wisconsin business. Formrite's owner, Dave Wage, said he contacted state officials regarding a potential $9 million-a-year contract with Caterpillar. Kleefisch was on the phone with him immediately. "She said, 'Dave, rest assured the state will do everything it can do … tell Caterpillar you are working with the state on funding for this project'", Wage recalled. The result was an expansion and addition of 60 jobs.[16] Kleefisch was designated by Walker as the administration's liaison to Wisconsin's small business community. In that capacity, she has hosted 25 Small Business Roundtables in 2011, traveling Wisconsin and listening to small business owners describe their situation and needs.[17] She also was selected to chair Walker's subcabinet on workforce investment that developed the Wisconsin Working Plan.[18]


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.[19] The recall election was held on June 5, 2012.[20] Kleefisch won the recall election and will continue serving as Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin.[21]

Personal life

Kleefisch is married to State Assemblyman Joel Kleefisch, who was also a reporter for WISN-TV. They have two daughters.[22] They live in Oconomowoc, located 16 miles west of Waukesha, Wisconsin, and are members of Crosspoint Community Church, a Christian & Missionary Alliance-affiliated megachurch in Oconomowoc.


In late August 2010, Kleefisch was diagnosed with colon cancer.[23] She had a tumor removed on September 2, 12 days before she won the primary election.[23] Although she is currently cancer-free, two days after she was elected, Kleefisch began elective chemotherapy to ensure that the cancer does not return.[24] By April 2011 she had finished treatment for chemotherapy.[25]

Electoral history

Wisconsin gubernatorial election, 2014[26]
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[27]
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[28]
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


  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. Spicuzza, Mary (March 31, 2012). "Recall elections ordered for Walker, Kleefisch, 4 GOP senators". Wisconsin State Journal.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sykes, Charlie. "Update: Rebecca Kleefisch Announces". WTMJ (AM). Retrieved December 29, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Kleefisch Can". July 20, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Prast, Kyle (July 23, 2010). "Lt. Gov. candidate Rebecca Kleefisch on Fox & Friends". BrookfieldNOW. Retrieved March 31, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Rebecca Kleefisch Official Facebook". Retrieved January 1, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Rebecca Kleefisch Official Twitter". Retrieved 1 January 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Bice, Daniel (October 28, 2010). "Kleefisch's uncle objects to anti-gay marriage statement". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-01-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "After Comments, Kleefisch's Gay Uncle Supporting Opponent", WISN 12 News, October 28, 2010.
  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 2011-01-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "WI GOPer Apologizes For Comparing Gay Marriage To Bestiality Or Marrying A Table", Talking Points Memo DC, October 29, 2010.
  15. Kleefisch, Rebecca. "Is it cold or is it just me?". RebeccaforReal. Archived from the original on June 5, 2012. Retrieved June 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Two Rivers plant to hire 60 new workers". State Representative Andre Jacque. Retrieved March 31, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Search results roundtable
  18. "Governor Walker Introduces Initial Phase of "Wisconsin Working" Plan" (PDF). Retrieved March 31, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "GAB staff finds more than 900,000 valid signatures to recall Walker". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved March 30, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Ramde, Dinesh (March 14, 2012). "Judge approves May 8, June 5 recall dates". Wisconsin Law Journal. Retrieved March 31, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Kleefisch survives recall". Retrieved June 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Bio". Retrieved March 31, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. 23.0 23.1 Stein, Jason (September 29, 2010). "Kleefisch treated for cancer". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Statement From Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch" (Press release). November 4, 2010. Retrieved March 31, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Schneider, Jim. "In Focus: Rebecca Kleefisch". WVCY-TV. Retrieved 15 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Wisconsin gubernatorial election, 2014". WTMJ-TV. Milwaukee, WI. Retrieved November 9, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Wisconsin Recall Election Results Map". Retrieved 2012-07-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Barbara Lawton
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin