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Former Vice President Mike Pence endorses GOP governor candidate Kleefisch in Pewaukee

Former Vice President Mike Pence sat between GOP governor candidate Rebecca Kleefisch (left) and former governor Scott Walker during a law enforcement round table discussion in Pewaukee on Wednesday.
Eddie Morales
Former Vice President Mike Pence sat between GOP governor candidate Rebecca Kleefisch (left) and former zhovernor Scott Walker during a law enforcement round table discussion in Pewaukee on Wednesday.

Former Vice President Mike Pence showed support in Pewaukee Wednesday for local law enforcement and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch. The visit came just days before former President Trump visits to stump for Kleefisch’s competition in next week’s primary, Tim Michels.

Pence sat between GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rebecca Kleefisch and former Governor Scott Walker during a round table discussion on law enforcement at the Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee. Topics included support for police and reducing violent crime in Milwaukee.

Pence said when Kleefisch asked him to campaign ahead of the August 9 primary election, he said yes right away. "I just want to emphasize having served in the White House, served as vice president, how vitally important the voice of conservative governors are in the life of the nation," he said.

Several law enforcement officials voiced their concerns about how the public perceives them, and how it’s affected their mental health and department staffing. Kleefisch said officers are facing pushback just for wearing the badge.

"I am so committed to assuring that you all have the resources you need in order to protect the children and the families of the state," said Kleefisch. "As your governor, I will assure you that you have my 100% support. I will back the badge."

Kleefisch said the removal of school resource officers is breaking the relationship between law enforcement and schools. Ryan Windorff, president of the Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police, said that’s causing young people to believe officers only show up when something bad happens. "I grew up with school resource officers that inspired me to get into law enforcement," he said. "It was a positive image for me, and I wanted to pursue that because of them."

Walker said people should be defending the police, not defunding them, which is another reason he supports Kleefisch in her bid for the Republican nomination. "There's a lot of people who talk, particularly come election time, about law enforcement, and then there are others who've actually stood with them even in the darkest and most trying times," he said.

If Kleefisch wins Tuesday, she would face Democratic Governor Tony Evers at the polls in November. Despite Walker’s assertions about “people defunding the police,” last October, Evers allocated $45 million in federal dollars to crime and violence prevention groups.

In March, Evers announced another $50 million in funding to extend working hours at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, and to pay for grants to local law enforcement agencies, to enhance community safety.

Another person who spoke at the roundtable was Columbia County Sheriff Roger Brandner. He said his two sons have careers in law enforcement. But he told Pence that he likely could not convince his children today to choose that career path.

"That's a problem," Brandner said. "What are we going to be when we don't have the good men and women and women in law enforcement? Who is going to protect our local communities?"

Pence thanked the law enforcement officials in attendance for their service. "You have no ordinary jobs," he said. "When you put on that uniform and walk out the door, you take risks that the everyday American just doesn't take."

Pence said the time has come for voters to elect leaders who will stand without apology for the men and women who serve on the thin blue line.

Rebecca Kleefisch told the audience she’s honored to be endorsed by law enforcement. "That is why I have committed to, as governor, putting 1,000 more cops on the streets, doing bail and sentencing reform to tie the hands of bad district attorneys and bad judges who are content to just let the bad guys go."

Pence’s appearance came just two days before former President Donald Trump visits the Waukesha County Fairgrounds where he will support Tim Michels — Kleefisch’s main opposition in Tuesday’s Republican gubernatorial primary.

Eddie is a WUWM news reporter.
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