The liberal-controlled Supreme Court and Democratic Party want to “draw the most political maps in the history of the State of Wisconsin,” former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch warned a gathering of grassroots conservatives in Wausau on Saturday.
The liberals on the state’s highest court are poised to go after the “great legislators” who form the Republican majority, Kleefisch said. The core of Rebecca Kleefisch’s message Saturday was encouraging more conservatives to get involved in local government, especially if the legislative maps are, in fact, redrawn to favor liberals.
“We lost the governor’s race, and then we lost the state Supreme Court race. Where do you go as a conservative? You go to local government,” she said. “You can either cry your tears in your Wisconsin beer or do something about it. The only place to get a remedy to what is ailing your government is you.”
“If not you, who? If not now, when?” she told the audience. “Your house is on fire. One day, your kids and grandkids will look at you and will say, ‘When everything was turning to ashes, what did you do?’” She said hopefully people can respond, “I did what I could. Wouldn’t it be even better if you can say, I did everything I could.”
Rebecca Kleefisch said liberals want to get rid of Republican control of the Legislature.
“They want to take every one of those districts away from conservatives. They want free rein. They want to return to the (Jim) Doyle era. They want a trifecta,” Kleefisch, who was a Republican candidate for governor last year, said. The speech was another step in a gradual reappearance by Kleefisch into the public square since the governor’s race, although she has been working behind the scenes through the 1848 project. Her talk was well-received.
According to Kleefisch, if redistricting is “decided in the courts, it’s not going to be pretty.”
She said that out-of-state liberal billionaires and state Democratic Parties all over the country are “raising money to send money to Wisconsin.”
She said they want to draw the “most political maps on the face of the earth and then spring them on our team, our legislative majorities, within 24 to 48 hours” of the deadline for gathering nomination signatures.
“They have been organizing this plan since 2010,” she said. “They have every aim to take over the majority.”
Kleefisch said the liberal court will take populous liberal areas of the state, like Milwaukee and Madison and “turn it into a pizza” by creating multiple new Democratic districts as well as pitting Republican incumbents against each other or redistricting them out of their own districts completely “within 24 to 48 hours. Watch them.”
In that scenario, who would have a chance to run and win in redrawn districts?
“Locals,” said Kleefisch, returning over and over again to her grassroots theme. “That’s our farm team in Wisconsin.”
She asked the conservative audience at the Velveteen Plum in Wausau, “Are you going to be that person?”
She described how, two days before the speech, a Facebook memory came through of her, 14 years ago, as a “tea party mom” at a grassroots event. That’s where she first met Meg Ellefson, the Wausau conservative talk radio host who organized the Get Involved Wisconsin, Inc. event where she spoke Saturday.
The Wausau event focused on the legislative process and how a bill provides a law and also included legislative panels, former Republican Attorney General candidate Eric Toney, Congressman Tom Tiffany, Lucas Vebber of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, representatives of the MacIver Institute, Republican Party Chair Brain Schimming, a panel with Wisconsin Right Now, and more.
The tea party reference is a reminder that Kleefisch, after time as a television reporter and before she was a Republican lieutenant governor, started her political career as a grassroots mom concerned about the direction of her state and community.
After the governor’s primary, she has quietly returned to that nucleus – a grassroots focus – through her 1848 organization that helps recruit local candidates. She returned to that focus time and again during her speech.
The tea party movement was “regular folks who came together” out of anger over the state’s loss of “economic principles and poor leadership and Democrats ruining the state,” Kleefisch said.
“Folks came together after we hit rock bottom in Wisconsin, and we took back control,” she said. Many remember that Scott Walker’s election as governor also came out of the tea party momentum, as well as the pension scandal in Milwaukee County that propelled him into office as county executive.
For a time, Republicans had the governor’s mansion, the Legislature AND the Supreme Court.
“Today are different circumstances,” said Kleefisch, noting that Republicans are “jammed on either end,” with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoing their bills and a state Supreme Court that “now disagrees with your role.”
The Republican controlled Legislature, she said, is “an island in the middle.”
Local officials might not always run with a “R or D after their name,” but some can “be swayed by your ability to lobby, and there is no better lobbyist for your family than you,” said Kleefisch, who added that her organization wants to help people run for local office.
Kleefisch underscored the urgency.
“There is a fire across the state right now,” said Kleefisch. “They (Democrats) have blocked our legislative majorities from either end. On this hill, our great legislators are surrounded on either side.”
An audience member from River Falls expressed concern about the thousands of UW-River Falls students, some commuter students and from the Twin Cities, some who register the day of voting, in a town of 15,000, and who “undermine everything the community does. Now multiply that by every campus.”
Kleefisch responded, “We have to make an aggressive move for young voters” and said conservatives need to encourage young conservatives to register to vote and run for political office.