Kleefisch Addresses Government Class


Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch speaks to the Local State and Government class.A thick skin is part of the makeup of a successful politician. Public servants combine inward drive with an outward poise that can sometimes be taken as stoicism.

Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch has made this observation firsthand since moving into her office in Madison. Governor Scott Walker’s controversial plan to balance the state’s budget has made Wisconsin the focus of the nation’s political watchers.

“Governor Walker stood resolute through this entire thing,” Kleefisch told an audience of about 70 Maranatha students April 18 while speaking to the Local Government class. “He can weather a storm and be stone-faced. Sometimes you have no idea what he’s thinking.

“When I told him I had cancer, he looked at me and said, ‘Oh.’ It was like I just told him he would be eating ham and cheese on rye.”

Kleefisch has been required to stand resolute as well while she balances the demands of her new job with colon cancer treatments and raising two daughters with her husband, Rep. Joel Kleefisch. Her final chemotherapy treatment was scheduled for April 20.

Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch speaks to the Local State and Government class.“We are still at that stage of life where the adults must look to the children’s needs,” Kleefisch said. “That will be a little easier when mom’s not on chemo, and maybe she can stay up past 8:30.”

So, what does a lieutenant governor do before 8:30?

Kleefisch describes her current role in the administration as “the schmoozer.” She is the person in charge of contacting business executives and encouraging them to take advantage of new incentives that might make Wisconsin a more attractive location. She described using Google to find contact information for the CEO of a major manufacturing company in Illinois, then encouraging him to consider relocation.

“We need to be able to offer job creators the tools they need to put Wisconsin back to work,” Kleefisch said.

Kleefisch also shared how her job requires that her faith be put into action each day, particularly when dealing with those with opposing political viewpoints.

“As Christians, we are called to be salt and light,” Kleefisch said. “We want to be kind and show grace.”

Kleefisch said she hasn’t considered the possibility of one day becoming governor, although that is a possibility. Nine state governors did not finish their term in 2009, leaving the helm to their lieutenant governors.

“I haven’t thought about anything beyond what we’re doing right now,” Kleefisch said. “My goal is to support the governor and the governor’s plans. I think they’re the right plans.”