is a former television news anchor, turned American
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...
, and is currently serving as the 44th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
The Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin is the first person in the order of succession of Wisconsin's executive branch, thus serving as governor in the event of the death, resignation, removal, impeachment, absence from the state, or incapacity due to illness of the Governor of Wisconsin...
. She was elected to the position on November 2, 2010, as the running mate of Republican Governor Scott Walker
Scott Kevin Walker is an American Republican politician who began serving as the 45th Governor of Wisconsin on January 3, 2011, after defeating Democratic candidate Tom Barrett, 52 percent to 47 percent in the November 2010 general election...
Kleefisch was born on August 7, 1975 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; she graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She was a reporter for WIFR-TV in Rockford, Illinois
Rockford is a mid-sized city located on both banks of the Rock River in far northern Illinois. Often referred to as "The Forest City", Rockford is the county seat of Winnebago County, Illinois, USA. As reported in the 2010 U.S. census, the city was home to 152,871 people, the third most populated...
, and then was a reporter and later morning anchor for WISN-TV
WISN-TV, virtual channel 12.1 , is a television station located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin serving as an affiliate of the ABC television network. Its signal covers most of southeastern Wisconsin and parts of northeastern Illinois, including Racine, Kenosha, Sheboygan and Waukesha...
in Milwaukee, before leaving in 2004 to start her family. She has two daughters. She is married to State Assemblyman Joel Kleefisch
Joel Kleefisch is a Wisconsin politician and former television reporter. His wife, Rebecca Kleefisch, is also in state politics as the current Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin....
, who was also a reporter for WISN-TV.
As her children grew, Kleefisch formed her own company, Rebecca Kleefisch Enterprises, Inc. and was a contributor to Charlie Sykes's program on WTMJ Radio
WTMJ is a radio station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin broadcasting at 620 AM. It is a 50,000-watt station airing a format of news, talk and sports. WTMJ is owned by Journal Broadcast Group, which also owns the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and sister station WLWK-FM....
In late August 2010, Kleefish was diagnosed with colon cancer. She had a tumor removed on September 2, 12 days before she won the primary election. Although she is currently cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...
free, two days after she was elected, Kleefisch began elective chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with an antineoplastic drug or with a combination of such drugs into a standardized treatment regimen....
to ensure that the cancer does not return. By April 2011 she had finished treatment for chemotherapy. She informed running mate Scott Walker about the tumor after they both won the Republican primaries. During the 2010 election campaign Kleefisch ran an ad critical of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The law is the principal health care reform legislation of the 111th United States Congress...
, President Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...
's health care reform legislation.
Kleefisch's first attempt at politics began when she ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2010. She declared her candidacy live via webcam from her kitchen table, expressing concern for the future of her children and touting her "kitchen table common sense."
Kleefisch's staunch conservative ideals and campaigning abilities quickly garnered notice, including an appearance on Fox News to discuss the rise of conservative women who were called "Mama Grizzlies," a term coined by former Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...
Governor Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...
Her campaign received wide recognition for its use of social media, employing heavy use of her Facebook and Twitter feeds to message to voters and build her message.
Same-sex marriage incident
Kleefisch made national news during the Wisconsin gubernatorial race in October 2010 when footage of an interview she had done early in her campaign was uncovered where she showed concern about changing existing marriage laws and analogized same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....
to marrying a dog, table, or a clock (video)
The story became national news after it was discovered that Kleefisch's uncle Chris Pfauser has been in an openly gay
Gay is a word that refers to a homosexual person, especially a homosexual male. For homosexual women the specific term is "lesbian"....
relationship for 18 years, and Pfauser said after hearing the comments he would vote for his niece's opponent. Kleefisch later apologized for her comments.
The Walker/Kleefisch ticket won the general election on November 2, 2010 and she is the Lieutenant Governor.
As she promised in her campaign, once elected, Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch immediately began cold-calling businesses from neighboring states, encouraging them to come to Wisconsin, which she declared "Open For Business." The first business she called, FatWallet.com
, took her up on her offer and moved its headquarters to Wisconsin.
Kleefisch was credited for helping to broker the growth of a Two Rivers, Wisconsin business. Formrite's owner, Dave Wage, said he contacted state officials regarding a potential $9 million a year contract with Caterpillar. Kleefisch was on the phone with him immediately. "She said, 'Dave, rest assured the state will do everything it can do … tell Caterpillar you are working with the state on funding for this project,'" Wage recalled. The result was an expansion and addition of 60 jobs.
In July, Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch was named to "The Most Admired Republican Woman Under 45" List by the Republican Security Council.