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Wisconsin's Kleefisch: 'This is what democracy looks like'

By   /   June 5, 2012  /   No Comments

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch beat back a recall to keep her post in Wisconsin government.


By Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON – Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch spoke with determination, and a smile.

“Now this is what democracy looks like,” Kleefisch said to supporters as poll results confirmed what Republicans predicted all along — a victory.

Kleefisch drummed Democratic challenger Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin union, as part of a GOP sweep of at least five of the six recall elections Tuesday.

At 11 p.m. CT, the results of the Senate District 21 race were undetermined.

With 89 percent of the state’s 3,424 precincts reporting, Kleefisch led Mitchell 54-46 percent.

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political scientist Joe Heim earlier Tuesday said voters probably would vote along party lines for governor and lieutenant governor, though some people wouldn’t go past the top of the ticket before casting their ballots.

“As people go down the ballot, they stop,” Heim said. “Some people can’t make it through three or four decisions, or they don’t know the lower names.”

The top two races on Tuesday’s tickets tracked showed about 2 million votes counted.

The lieutenant governor has no official duties, but steps in when a governor dies, becomes incapacitated or leaves office before the end of a term.

In 2001, then-Lt. Gov. Scott McCallum became governor after then-Gov. Tommy Thompson was tapped to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for former President George W. Bush.

Despite the potential significance of the role, however, the race for lieutenant governor has taken a distant backseat, not only to the gubernatorial race, but also to the four state Senate recalls.

But, then, the No. 2 spot itself tends to get little attention.

Although Kleefisch has been in office for nearly two years, 31 percent of respondents in a Marquette Law School poll released last week said they didn’t know enough about her to form an opinion.

A full 58 percent said the same about Mitchell.

Will Roberts, a 52-year-old Brown Deer delivery man, said he was voting with enthusiasm for Democrats, no matter the name on the ballot.

“I don’t really know much about Mitchell, but Barrett is my man and anybody with the ‘D’ gets my vote,” Roberts said.

“I’ve got two Barrett signs in my yard and a big Mitchell one,” he said.

Kleefisch became lieutenant governor after besting four others in the Republican primary for the position in 2010.

Nancy Milholland, who helped organize a Racine Tea Party rally for Walker, Kleefisch and state Sen. Van Wanggaard last Saturday, said Kleefisch has been a strong political partner for the governor.

“She’s just very well informed on the issues of our state,” Milholland said. “She understands where we came from, what happened and how things have improved. She gets how the budget reforms are working. She just connects very well with people.”