As a firefighter of fifteen years, Mahlon Mitchell can handle anything that is thrown his way. That was evident last Sunday when Mitchell faced current Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch on ‘Upfront with Mike Gousha.’ Despite Kleefisch’s incessant interruptions and condescending attitude, Mahlon Mitchell remained calm. I spoke with Mitchell on Wednesday afternoon to get his assessment of the debate, hear his thoughts on the Professional Firefighters of Milwaukee Association’s recent endorsement of Rebecca Kleefisch, and to get an update on the status of his campaign for Lt. Governor of Wisconsin.
Mitchell agreed that Kleefisch did interrupt him many times during Sunday’s debate but he remained calm because, he said, while he doesn’t respect Rebecca Kleefisch’s positions on pretty much anything, “I do respect the office of Lt. Governor…and I wanted to show her that respect…and I’ll continue to do that.”
When asked what he thought of her statement that under the Walker/Kleefisch administration, 15,600 private sector jobs were created (instead of the truth-that we lost over 4,000 private sector jobs) Mitchell replied, “She was wrong about the job numbers. Of course, they (Republicans) never own up to the job losses. I’ll bet if the Bureau of Labor Statistic would have come back with positive job numbers and job increases, I’ll bet they would have taken them and run with them. Politics is one thing, telling the truth is another. People don’t even tell the truth any more…and I just don’t agree with that.”
Regarding the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association’s endorsement of Rebecca Kleefisch, Mahlon told me he was not surprised or concerned about it. “They are the ones who stood with Walker. They are also not my association. I represent all 57 communities in our state and over 3000 firefighters, I represent all career firefighters except for Milwaukee. They’re the only ones that are not in our association…They’re on an island by themselves and that’s their choice, but I think in the end they’ll realize they made the wrong decision…it’s their leadership, I wouldn’t say it’s their entire membership, but it’s their leadership making that call,” said Mitchell.
Further, “You would think after they saw the ‘Divide and Conquer’ video where Walker was taking to his billionaire buddy, Diane Hendricks, that they would realize that’s exactly what they’re trying to do to this state…but they haven’t woken up yet.”
I wondered aloud why Lt. Governor Kleefisch was so excited to be endorsed by a union, since she and Walker have been so outspoken against unions? Wasn’t she just, as Sly had suggested, using the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association as a prop?
Mitchell responded, “She’s happy about any endorsement, and it shows you their ‘divide and conquer’ tactic has no boundaries. Anyone who’s willing to get behind them and give them money right now, they’re desperate, and they’ll take it. If you look at her press release it says ‘we appreciate the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters’ bravery and their dedication to the community.’ Well, every firefighter in the state is brave and is dedicated to the community, it’s not just Milwaukee firefighters because they endorsed her…
They do the same job that I do; maybe their political views are different, but at the end of the day, their rank and file membership does the exact same job that our rank and file membership does, so I applaud all firefighters in our state… Just because their leadership has a difference of opinion on politics, it still comes down to one thing and that is that as a firefighter it’s about serving and protecting our communities and Milwaukee firefighters do that.”
As more and more Wisconsinites find out exactly who Mahlon Mitchell is, both personally and professionally, support for his campaign increases. But Mitchell noted that, “While we’re running in unison with the Tom Barrett campaign, we do have to do our own fundraising, we cannot intermingle funds,” and so “we’re always accepting donations.” Mitchell encourages people to visit his website, mahlonmitchell.com. Bumper stickers, buttons, etc. can also be purchased from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s website.
Go, Mahlon, go!