Kleefisch makes it official, launches bid for governor

NOW: Kleefisch makes it official, launches bid for governor

BUTLER, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch made it official Thursday, Sept. 9, that she's running for governor against incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

Kleefisch made her announcement in a campaign video along with a launch event at Western States Envelope Company in Waukesha County, where she aligned herself with President Donald Trump while bashing Evers as a weak leader. 

"It is absolutely infuriating watching Tony Evers pick winners and losers in our economy," said Kleefisch. "That is weak leadership, that is incompetence and that is the chaos that has resulted."

She took aim at Evers for his handling of the pandemic, such as shutting down businesses and schools, not processing unemployment claims more quickly and the civil unrest in Kenosha last summer after a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by a police officer. 

“He may shut down our schools, he may shut down our economy, he may shut down our churches, but today, we begin to shut down Tony Evers,” Kleefisch said.

She vowed to hire more police officers, ban critical race theory in schools and said she would sign GOP election bills her first day in office.

Kleefisch would also be able to help Republican lawmakers pass their agenda that has been blocked by Evers, including restricting abortions, banning vaccine requirements and making changes to gun laws. 

Kleefisch is one of the most well-known Republicans in the race after serving eight years as Scott Walker’s lt. governor from 2011-2018.

Before that she was a TV reporter and anchor in Wisconsin. She would become the first female governor in Wisconsin if elected. 

Last week, she stepped down from her role with the 1848 Project that released a 16-page policy agenda that mirrored many of her talking points during her campaign speech.

Gov. Evers' campaign responded to the announcement saying, in part, “Rebecca Kleefisch already left a devastating mark on Wisconsin after eight years of attacking public schools, slashing transportation funding and supporting massive handouts to corporations."  

Gov. Evers is up for reelection next year and has announced plans to seek a second term.

His campaign went on to say, "her record isn’t a mystery to anyone and it’s unfortunate she would rather divide our state with radical rhetoric than find solutions that make Wisconsin stronger."

The chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin also criticized her for entering the race, calling Kleefisch "radically wrong for Wisconsin."

"Kleefisch has fully embraced radical extremism, from spreading misleading information about COVID-19 and vaccines to buying into conspiracy theories about the 2020 election," said Ben Wikler, chair of DPW. 

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