Published May 01, 2012
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's recall fight has turned into a national brawl, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie becoming the latest party figure to come out and stump for the embattled Republican governor.
But Walker's deputy, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, has also gotten caught up in the recall politics whirlwind. Though Walker is the face of the upcoming election battle, Kleefisch has found herself waging a tough fight to hold her seat as well.
Kleefisch now has the distinction of being the first lieutenant governor to face recall in the state, with the primary just a week away and the main recall vote set for next month -- which will deliver a verdict of sorts on state Republicans' controversial union crackdown.
And the attacks coming at her have been personal as well as professional.
Kleefisch said opponents are using the state's recall function as a "weapon."
"A weapon to seek revenge, political revenge specifically," she said "When a special interest or a big-monied interest doesn't get what they want, they have learned they can use the recall to exact revenge."
One shock jock for a show called "Sly in the Morning," which airs on WTDY-FM, came at her last year with a particularly crude impression.
"I'm Rebecca Kleefisch. I perform fellatio on all the talk show hosts in Milwaukee," the morning jock said on the air, speaking in a fake high-pitched voice meant to imitate her. The jock later apologized for the remarks, after substantial public outcry.
Kleefisch appeared to be trying to ignore the comments.
"If you validate those things with a response all the time, it just brings the conversation down to a level that I don't want to play at," she said.
The nastiness is not coming from her lead Democratic opponent, Mahlon Mitchell, who is the head of the state's firefighters union.
Mitchell said he wants to keep things dignified.
"You'll never hear me taunt or get personal with Governor Walker or Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch," he said.
Mitchell has marched in protests and rallies, along with fellow firefighters and union supporters, but he said that wasn't enough. Like a firefighter, he said he responded to an emergency situation and decided to run for office.
"You can only sit back and throw rocks or give protest speeches, give rally speeches before you have to make true change and that happens from within," he said. "I'm running because I want to make change, change the direction our state is going in and you've got to do that from being within the Capitol, not outside the Capitol."
Kleefisch has raised about $540,000, nearly four times the roughly $140,000 raised by Mitchell.
Walker has raised far more -- $13 million in the last period, for a total of $25 million.
Under Wisconsin law, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected together, but recalled separately. So they each face an election next month.