New group forms to help Republican Kleefisch win election

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new political action committee headed by a longtime Republican operative has formed to help Rebecca Kleefisch win the governor’s race.

Stephan Thompson, who previously served as head of the Wisconsin Republican Party and ran Gov. Scott Walker’s 2014 reelection campaign, announced Thursday that he will lead the new group known as Freedom Wisconsin. Thompson previously served as an adviser to a group Kleefisch formed called the 1848 Project.

The new PAC will be able to raise an unlimited amount of money to help Kleefisch. Candidates, unlike PACs, are limited to raising no more than $20,000 from individuals per cycle.

“Rebecca Kleefisch is the only Republican with the track record and backbone ready to take back the Governor’s Office,” Thompson said in a statement.

The move comes two days after lobbyist Bill McCoshen announced he would not run for governor. State Rep. John Macco and former Marine Kevin Nicholson are both considering runs.

Kleefisch launched her long-anticipated candidacy last week. She served as lieutenant governor for eight years under Walker.

While Thompson will be leading the group, fundraising will be led by longtime Walker and conservative backer Mary Stitt and Jim McCray, chief executive officer of Highwood Capital. McCray has advised Walker and numerous other candidates for U.S. senators, presidential campaigns and governors, according to a release announcing formation of the group.

The winner of the Republican primary in August will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November 2022.