Kleefisch: ‘We have to act now’

By M.D, Kittle

MADISON — The conservative organization founded by former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is looking to train the next generation of conservative leaders.

With a critical Supreme Court election and local government seats across the state on the ballot this spring, the 1848 Project expects to be very busy over the next few months.

The conservative 501(c)(4) organization announced last week that Kleefisch is returning to lead the group in her role as president. She stepped away from the post while campaigning for the Republican nomination for governor, losing to Republican businessman Tim Michels. Michels lost in this month’s election to Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat.

In a statement, Kleefisch said she started the 1848 Project to develop the conservative agenda for candidates to run on and implement.

“But it has become clear that we can’t stop with one election cycle, or only state policy efforts,” said Kleefisch, who served two terms as conservative reformer Gov. Scott Walker’s lieutenant governor from 2011 to 2019. “We need to recruit, equip and provide continuing education for candidates for offices ranging from school board to city council, county board to state senate.”

“We have to act now.”

Taking action became even more pressing on Nov. 8, when far left Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul won second terms, with Democrat state Rep. Sara Rodriguez (D-Brookfield) elected lieutenant governor. While conservatives maintained a strong majority in both houses of the Legislature, they didn’t hit the numbers needed to render impotent Evers’ veto pen, which the liberal has wielded more than any governor in state history.

That means Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race in April looms all the more critical for both left and right. Conservatives — at least in name — hold a narrow 4-3 majority, with outgoing conservative Justice Patience Roggensack’s seat up for election.

Bonnie Lee, 1848 Project’s executive director, said the election results have left conservatives frustrated but determined.

“We are seeing a swelling of that ground movement of activists around education issues in particular,” she said. “Many of those people have decided to join the effort to uphold the values we consider to be dear, and one of those is that parents should have the primary role in teaching their children and influencing their children’s beliefs and world views.”

Conservatives have had a good deal of success on the local level over the past year.

American Majority, a conservative political training institute, says it trained 28 winners in this fall’s elections. That brings the total of American Majority-trained leaders to 152 on the year, a 67 percent win rate. Many of those candidates competed in last spring’s elections.

“Since opening our Wisconsin office in October 2010, we have trained 302 New Leaders who’ve gone on to victory across Wisconsin,” said Nate Nelson, executive director of the Wisconsin office. “American Majority is helping to ensure that solid conservative candidates have the tools to become successful in their campaigns and we are thrilled to see these results in Wisconsin.”

Kleefisch’s 1848 Project expects to be heavily involved in helping to shape the next generation of conservative leaders.

Lee said the local level is where the fight for America’s values will be fought and won by conservatives.

“Conservative principles are good and sound, empowering, life-affirming values,” she said. “There’s a lot of reason to be involved. From what’s happening in our children’s classrooms to the streets of our cities to the impact on our pocketbooks. There are a lot of reasons that conservatives have a voice that needs to be heard.”

Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 21, 2022

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3 responses to “Kleefisch: ‘We have to act now’”

  1. Carroll Merry Avatar
    Carroll Merry

    Where was Kleefish’s endorsement of Michels for Governor?

    Would have been nice if the GOP had a united front for a change instead of taking our toys home and not playing with the others.

  2. Denise Avatar
    Denise

    She was running for Governor herself against Michels and Evers

  3. Carroll Merry Avatar
    Carroll Merry

    After she lost in the August primary she could have used her influence to swing voters to the Republican side of the ballot for the general election. Maybe more of the down-ballot candidates would have done better if she had spoken out on behalf of Republican principles and beliefs. Instead she went home to pout. I like Becky a great deal and have met and talked with her on many occasions, but she has taken herself down a number of notches in my eyes because she would not support the party and its slate of candidates.

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