It was a bit after the 5 p.m. start time when I got to Republican Lt. Gov. candidate Rebecca Kleefisch's campaign fundraiser reception at the Esquire Club Wednesday night on Madison's north side. I didn't miss much. Kleefisch was also running behind schedule and had not yet arrived.
So I walked among the Kleefisch supporters chatting at the bar outside the banquet room. Politics was not a taboo topic for them, as they discussed the exciting political climate this election year and the enthusiastic support they feel is behind the Republican candidates.
Just before 6 p.m., Kleefisch and her people finally entered the bar and immediately began warmly greeting supporters and apologizing for their tardiness -- she had been at a campaign event in Oak Creek for Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker, with guests Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia.
"When you are at a rally with [folks like these]," Kleefisch said with a grin, "you don't urge them to hurry on up."
When I checked ahead of time, I was told the event was closed to reporters. My plan had been to hang out at the bar, which is open to the public. But as it turned out, no one seemed to mind that I joined the main event, in an adjoining room. I didn't even have to make the minimal $25 contribution.
Speaking to a roomful of about two dozen supporters, Kleefisch praised Walker's plans to help Wisconsin retain and attract more jobs, with the goal being 250,000 jobs created and 10,000 new small businesses by the end of Walker's first term in 2015.
She said she is tired of hearing people tell her how other states like Louisiana, Texas and Illinois are calling Wisconsin businesses and trying to coax them to relocate to their state.
"We can't afford more job losses like we have seen under the Doyle-Barrett policies," Kleefisch said. "Scott Walker has a new strategy that will help the private sector pull itself up by its bootstraps and truly return Wisconsin to prosperity again."
Kleefisch praised Walker's plan to call a special session of the Legislature in order to reduce small business taxes, cut down on frivolous lawsuits and revamp the Department of Commerce -- which Kleefisch referred to as the business "red tape factory," drawing laughter from the crowd.
Kleefisch was joined at the event by her husband, state Rep. Joel Kleefisch, her mother MaryJo Reed, and other campaign staffers.
While introducing his wife, Joel praised her tenacity and hard work while out on the campaign trail and of course for being a great wife and mother. He noted that, now that his wife is campaigning with Walker, he is also accorded front-seat honors in the Walker "Brown Bag" campaign bus.
Joel also poked good-natured fun at how he is commonly referred to as "Rebecca Kleefisch's husband."
"I do get to remind her once in a while that she doesn't get to write legislation that becomes a law," he joked.