In a competitive primary, President Ronald Reagan popularized the 11th commandment in Republican politics:
Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.
The 11th commandment is not meant to limit debate between Conservative candidates vying for the party’s nomination but is meant to prevent Republicans from leveling personal attacks that could damage the nominee’s chances of winning a general election.
After campaigning for Governor for the past three years, former Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch who many people felt would inevitably be the Republican nominee to challenge Governor Evers, finds herself neck-and-neck with Conservative businessman, Army veteran, and political outsider Tim Michels who has been endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump.
The most recent Marquette Law Poll, released last week, indicates that support for Kleefisch’s gubernatorial run dropped 6% among Republican primary voters from 32% in April to 26% last week. Meanwhile, Michels, who was not included in the April Marquette poll debuted at 27% support. It was the first Marquette poll Michels was included in, but his 27%-26% lead was identical to the Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll that had been publicly released earlier in June. Meanwhile, other challengers Kevin Nicholson and Tim Ramthun remained relatively constant at 10% and 3% respectively. The Marquette poll clearly showed all the momentum in the GOP primary is currently with Michels.
To counter her inability to earn the endorsement of the Republican Party of Wisconsin at their recent convention, and her decline in the polls, Rebecca Kleefisch has decided to ignore Reagan’s 11th commandment and go negative on fellow Republican Tim Michels. Kleefisch is leveling dishonest personal attacks against Michels on the status of Wisconsin residency, his position on the gas tax, and other issues. She claims Michels got rich on state contracts but failed to mention every state contract Michels Corp won was done by sealed bid – meaning Michels was the low bidder. She also fails to mention roadbuilding is a small percentage of the work Michels Corp performs. Kleefisch and her campaign have planted this misinformation in both mainstream and conservative media outlets. The Kleefisch campaign is even sending out false attacks on Michels to their own campaign mailing list. Something that is sure to turn off fellow Republicans from supporting her in the primary.
It is commendable that Michels has displayed traits of a strong leader and largely ignored the Kleefisch campaign’s dishonest smears and personal attacks and stayed positive. He is offering solutions to get Wisconsin back on track. More importantly, Michels isn’t taking any money from PACs or special interests. His solutions are designed to help the people of Wisconsin, not the special interests who fund the Kleefisch and other opponent’s campaigns.
Hopefully, the Kleefisch campaign reverses course, respects Reagan’s 11th commandment, and refocuses on engaging in vigorous debate on policy versus spreading lies and personal attacks. What is her position on the gas tax and repeal of the minimum markup law for example? Elections are about the future. Kleefisch needs to stop focusing on her opponents and articulate what her policy proposals actually are. Michels said yesterday he is open to suspending the gas tax and repealing the minimum markup, something the Walker/Kleefisch administration did not do. Let’s start talking about policy differences. Otherwise, the Kleefisch campaign will continue to turn off GOP primary voters while hurting Michels and the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s chances against Evers in November.
Matt Cordio is a Conservative small business owner from Waukesha County. You can follow him on twitter @MattCordio.