People of Northwest Public Radio
It's All Politics
Thu April 26, 2012
The Wisconsin Recall That Nobody's Talking About
If the job of the vice president is, as John Adams so famously put it, "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived," what must it be like to be lieutenant governor?
And, to go a step further, what about a lieutenant governor facing recall?
As Wisconsin Public Radio's Shawn Johnson reports for All Things Considered, amid the flurry of the recall campaign targeting Gov. Scott Walker, no one seems to be paying attention to Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.
"The lack of attention to the lieutenant governor is not surprising given the office's low profile," Shawn reports. "Kleefisch has a paid staff of just four full-time employees, including herself. And yet more than 800,000 Wisconsin residents signed recall petitions to oust her from office — a sign that the anger against Walker has spilled over to her."
Kleefisch (pronounced CLAY-fish) apparently wasn't the Walker campaign's favored candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010. "But if that bothers Rebecca Kleefisch, you wouldn't know it from the way she promotes the governor's agenda, including his stand on collective bargaining," Shawn reports.
But Kleefisch won't be able to count on Walker's name helping at the polls. Unlike in regular elections, Wisconsinites will have to vote separately for governor and lieutenant governor in the recall. That sets up a scenario in which the Republicans could win one office and Democrats the other.
Kleefisch's likely Democratic opponent, Mahlon Mitchell, a firefighter who's president of Wisconsin's firefighters union, points out that the lieutenant governor is just one step away from being governor.
"In my opinion, all she's done has been a rubber stamp to Scott Walker and his policies," Mitchell says. "And for that case, she's got to go as well."
As Shawn puts it: "It's an easy sell for Mitchell to make to Democrats, just as Kleefisch's message goes over well with Republicans. Their challenge is making a handful of voters in the middle care about the unprecedented recall nobody's talking about."