Rebecca Kleefisch

Former lieutenant governor during the administration of Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch announced she'll oppose Gov. Tony Evers in his 2022 reelection bid.

(The Center Square) – Former Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch is running for governor of Wisconsin. It’s not a surprise, she’s been kind of running for months, but on Thursday she made it official.

“I am running because I have two kids who I want to choose Wisconsin to live their American dreams and one day raise families here,” Klkeefisch said in her prepared statement. “But that is only possible if we start putting the people first.”

The real meat of her campaign, however, is a strong attack on Democratic Governor Tony Evers.

“Tony Evers’ weak leadership has been disastrous for our state. He failed to stand up to the left-wing mobs while Wisconsin cities burned. Evers tried to raise your taxes during a pandemic, and his administration let the calls of unemployed Wisconsinites go unanswered after he shut our economy down,” she said.

Kleefisch also released a nearly two-minute video on social media to reinforce those attacks.

Kleefisch worked in Milwaukee TV and was a mom before becoming lieutenant governor in former Gov. Scott Walker's administration. Most recently she headed the 1848 Project, which largely served as a conservative vehicle for her campaign.

Former Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Preibus on Wednesday said Kleefisch is the instant frontrunner.

“I think she was more than just a typical lieutenant governor that you don’t hear about,” Preibus told News Talk 1130 WISN’s Jay Weber Wednesday. “She had a very high profile. She did a lot of work in bringing jobs back to Wisconsin. I mean she ran that operation, which is a little different than most lieutenant governors.”

Democrats instantly pounced on Kleefisch’s time as lieutenant governor as well, instead criticizing her years as Scott Walker’s second in command.

“During her tenure as lieutenant governor, Kleefisch championed far-right policies that hurt Wisconsinites and eviscerated protections for workers. Alongside Gov. Scott Walker, Kleefisch railed against affordable health care expansion, gutted funding for public education, and slashed rights for workers, resulting in a historic teacher shortage and massive inequalities between school districts,” Wisconsin Democratic Chairman Ben Wikler said in a statement. Democrats in Wisconsin continue to be angry over Act 10, which changed how public employee unions can bargain, and by the Republican legislature’s refusal to expand Medicaid in the state.

Kleefisch is the first official big-name candidate to jump into the race. Republicans Bill McCoshen and Kevin Nicholson are still possible candidates.

Voters will make their choices in the primaries next August. The winners will face-off in the general election next November.