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Anti-Kleefisch protest targets Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate's backing of Foxconn

Protesters in downtown Milwaukee
Chuck Quirmbach
Protestors interact with a large puppet meant to portray GOP gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch, during a protest Monday outside a Foxconn sign in downtown Milwaukee.

Democrats and labor groups are stepping up their criticism of Republican candidate for governor Rebecca Kleefisch over the former Wisconsin lieutenant governor's early support of a promised Foxconn factory in Racine County.

About 25 protestors from the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, gathered Monday around a giant red-haired puppet meant to represent Kleefisch. The protest took place outside the downtown Milwaukee building where Foxconn says it has an office.

The protestors chanted: "Radical Rebecca, we want to know, where did all our taxes go?"

As many Wisconsin residents finished filing their income taxes Monday, the demonstrators focused on the $3 billion in state incentives then-Gov. Scott Walker, Kleefisch and Republican legislators promised Foxconn five years ago if the Taiwan-based company would live up to its promises to create more than 10,000 jobs in Racine County and elsewhere in Wisconsin.

State Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) said Kleefisch felt bound by Walker's promises to create a quarter million jobs in Wisconsin.

"You know, Rebecca Kleefisch was given the title of job creator, and I think between her and Walker, they were so anxious to hit that 250,000 mark, they were willing to do anything," Sinicki told news reporters.

The protestors walked to the outer doors of the building to deliver a fake check from Wisconsin taxpayers to Foxconn. The demonstrators did not go inside.
Chuck Quirmbach
The protestors walked to the outer doors of the building to deliver a fake check from Wisconsin taxpayers to Foxconn. The demonstrators did not go inside.

Instead much of the planned Foxconn campus in Mount Pleasant has not been built, and after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers was elected in 2018, he dramatically scaled back the state incentive package to try to mesh with the much smaller number of jobs Foxconn has created here.

Racine ironworker Randy Bryce said voters should not give Kleefisch a chance to get back in the limelight and run state government.

"It's just wrong, and we need to make sure people like Radical Rebecca Kleefisch don't get put in charge in the governor's mansion. We can't afford it," Bryce told the crowd.

A photo of Rebecca Kleefisch holding a gun, from the Kleefisch for Governor website.
screen grab
A photo of Rebecca Kleefisch holding a gun,from the Kleefisch for Governor website.

The Kleefisch campaign released a statement contending that under the deal Evers negotiated, Foxconn receives millions more in tax dollars than the company would have under the Walker-Kleefisch incentive package,because Foxconn failed to meet the GOP's jobs and investment requirements.

But Foxconn critics say company promises also led to expensive widening of I-94, removal of neighborhoods and loss of farmland in Mount Pleasant, and put local government in a risky financial situation.

Kleefisch is the perceived frontrunner in the GOP gubernatorial primary, but at least one more candidate may still enter the contest.

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