GOP candidate calls on Republicans to 'hire mercenaries' to 'harvest ballots' in leaked recording
Rebecca Kleefisch (Twitter)

A GOP gubernatorial candidate in Wisconsin is calling on Republicans to "hire mercenaries" to engage in "ballot harvesting" to win 2022 elections.

Rebecca Kleefisch, who served as lieutenant governor for eight years and is vying to unseat Democratic Gov. Tony Evers next year, made the comments on Saturday during a speech to Republicans in Door County, according to audio of her remarks obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The newspaper reported that Kleefisch "said the methods she needs to use to win bother her so much she will need to wash herself with steel wool."

"If her campaign strategy works, she said she would quickly sign legislation overhauling how elections are conducted," according to Journal Sentinel.

"We execute with excellence, we will beat them at their own game. And the next morning, we all wake up, take a shower with steel wool, and then, after swearing in in January ... (the Legislature) is going to pass all these bills again, and then I'm going to sign them all. And we will never do elections like that again, but this is how we win," Kleefisch said.

"If you are recording, I don't want you to put this part online to share with Democrats, OK? It is about election strategy," she added. "What I'm about to say may feel ugly to you guys."

According to the newspaper, Kleefisch then talked about "ballot harvesting" and hiring "mercenaries."

"Ballot harvesting in Wisconsin is not technically illegal," Kleefisch said. "Democrats do it non-stop and they go hard. Republicans must go harder."

"Democrats hire mercenaries," she added. "Republicans rely on sweet little volunteers to do the exact same things. We must hire mercenaries."

The newspaper notes that Kleefisch's comments came two weeks after she declined to say whether, as governor, she would sign a bill allowing the Legislature to overrule elections officials in deciding how to count the state's Electoral College votes.