Whereas, Michels doesn’t need it.
Rebecca Kleefisch pulled out all the stops at the state Republican convention Saturday in Middleton. The candidate for governor turned the 12 minutes allotted to make her case into a real production. Instead of a candidate reading a speech, out comes former governor Scott Walker, her running mate. Something of a surprise, since he has been little seen in the state since taking that job at the Reagan Ranch. Becky is the only one of five candidates for governor to win statewide, he reminded. She battled the hundred thousand protesting Act 10 AND cancer, at the same time. Pressed the delegates’ hot buttons: Defunded Planned Parenthood, supports school choice, enacted castle doctrine gun laws. She’s a fighter.
Then out comes onto the stage a rainbow of supporters bearing signs, as if to show that the feisty lady is no “establishment” candidate. Her two teenaged daughters introduce the candidate, who does not make her entrance until 4 minutes of allotted time remains. It’s a great speech but the microphone goes dead at 00:00 just as Ms. Kleefisch is shouting “I got to tell you.”
Even so, all in all, very professional. Too polished?
Her campaign swag would win best of show, were there such a contest. Besides the usual caps and tee shirts, cowbells, tote bags, welcome bottles of drinking water awaited delegates at each chair; the bottles reading “Not Swampwater.” (Get it? That Trumpy thing about draining the swamp.)
By contrast was a low-budget candidate who was a stranger even to these party activists. Guy named Adam Fisher. Even his stance at the microphone was pugnacious. Less polished than a barroom spittoon. Former cop. More red meat than a rendering plant.
“I am one pissed-off American,” he began. Now THERE is an applause line! Claimed to be the only candidate to go to Kenosha during the troubles. But he went with a friend, he admitted. “My .45 caliber.” Unvaxxed and unmasked during the entirely of the Covid. That’s a brag among Republicans. But Fisher did finish at exactly 00:00.
The other three more mainstream candidates almost promoted “No endorsement” as much as their own bonafides — they being Kevin Nicholson, Tim Michels, and Timothy Ranthum. They had little expectation of getting to the 60% threshold required to get the party’s endorsement, which brings with it campaign cash, organization, and the organizational stamp of approval.
They succeeded. In the first round when five candidates were on 1,450 delegate’s ballots the results were:
Rebecca Kleefisch 51.7%
No endorsement 36.4
Timothy Ramthun 5.1
Kevin Nicholson 3.1
Tim Michels 2.8
Adam Fisher 0.8
In the second round, with three candidates eliminated Kleefisch (pronounced “Clay-fish”) improved to 54.6% but so did No Endorsement (to 42.8%). Ramthun fell to 2.6%.
That hurts Kleefisch, who could have used all the resources she can get her hands on to fend off multi-millionaire Michels, head of the largest construction company in the state, employing some 6,000 workers.
Money was Michels message; he warned that incumbent Tony Evers will be well funded by Democrats desperate to trim their losses in a bad electoral environment. As for political action committee money, “I don’t want it, I won’t take it, I don’t need it.” “Nobody’s Senator but Yours” elected millionaire Herb Kohl back in the day.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Becky needed the party’s resources; Michaels can do without. But in defense of polish — it’s evidence of a well run campaign.