The question was as inevitable as football and politics — and Saturday’s Republican Party of Dane County picnic in front of a crowd of about 130 attendees at Carriage Hills Estates Park seemed the right place to ask it.

“Just wondering — are you or Aaron Rodgers going to make a decision first?” the male questioner asked, referring to the Green Bay Packers quarterback who is reportedly unhappy with the Packers organization and may decide not to play football for the Packers this season or ever again.

After the laughter subsided, Johnson quipped, “Probably him because the football season starts!”

Johnson answered questions about the Wuhan COVID-19 virus, the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington DC, inflation and more. He was followed by former Lt. Gov Rebecca Kleefisch, who — even though she did not say she was running for governor — also dropped some big hints and fired back at Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers.

“There are a lot of people — probably friends of yours even — who have said that, we’re just going to take our ball and go home. Because right now we watch all of these terrific bills be authored and then passed in the Assembly and the Senate, and be sent to the governor’s desk, assuring that it is easy to vote, but hard to cheat. And then you watch Gov. Tony Evers veto those bills,” Kleefisch said.

“How do you feel about that, conservatives? And so you’re probably sitting there thinking, ‘how are we possibly going to fight under the exact same rules as what we fought under in fall of 2020’? Let me tell you right now, we need to be completely united as a family,” Kleefisch said. “We all need to be on the same page — understanding that the DNC, the DPW, the DGA and every special interest group from coast to coast is going to be dumping money on Tony Evers campaign.

“What does that mean for us?” Kleefisch asked. “It means we must fight not only with dollars putting television ads and digital ads up, but we must fight as the grassroots. We must fight united as people. That is the type of fight, that won this country for we the people, we Patriots, and that is how we will win next fall. That is how we will defeat Tony Evers. And then — we will bring back great conservative majorities in both the assembly and the state Senate.

“We will elect a new conservative governor, Kleefisch predicted. “We will pass all of those election integrity bills. Once again, in January of ’23, in order to assure that our elections have integrity and our new governor will sign those bills and she will sign that on day one!”

After the applause subsided, Kleefisch added, “We do have a fight on our hands. How many of you noticed the Gov. Tony Evers signed the budget this week? The budget that was passed by tremendous conservative majorities. And I would argue the budget that was actually authored by conservative majority.

“Did you also notice that Tony Evers took complete credit for the new budget that was authored by the conservative majority . . . this is epic revisionist history, my friends,” Kleefisch said.

The former lieutenant governor compared the budget to a school group project

“And you were all assigned a desk in the group project. And there was the one guy that did absolutely nothing in the group project. And at the end of the day, the project gets turned in and he gets an A,” Kleefisch said. “This project may be so good, it gives people a $3.4 billion tax cut. That’s how good this project was. But then the one guy that did not participate gets all the credit for it. Will you let him take the credit for this budget?”

Republican Attorney General Candidate Ryan Owens promised to stand with law enforcement. Recalling an incident in Green Bay where a 75-year-old man was stabbed, Owens said safety is of utmost importance to Wisconsin residents.

“Our safety is at risk now because we have feckless leaders who are too spineless to stand up to their political base and admit that we have a problem and take on some responsibility to resolve it,” Owens said. “I think that’s wrong. I think Wisconsin needs an attorney general who will recognize that we have a serious problem right now. And we need some serious leaders to address them now.”

Current Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney, also a candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General, drew on his experience as a police officer’s son.

“I started thinking about running for attorney general last year, when I saw Josh Kaul fail to stand up and support our law enforcement,” Toney said. “And I’m in my ninth year as a district attorney in the trenches, working with our law enforcement earlier this week, I just finished a jury trial for someone that had a pound of methamphetamine. And that’s about $43,000 street value. If someone is selling it that they buy for about seven to $11,000, that’s what our law enforcement deals with the violent crime that we’re seeing. And our attorney general has failed to stand up for our law enforcement.”

Toney also said Kaul has weakened the Division of Criminal Investigation and provide guidance or opinions on new laws such as Marcy’s Law, or even provide guidance on election law.

“Now, does everybody here agree that every ballot, no matter which county is cast, it should be treated and counted the same? Anybody think that’s controversial?” Toney asked. “So wouldn’t it be great to have some guidance from the attorney general, with an Attorney General’s opinion, telling clerks what that law means and how they should apply and not rely on that Wisconsin elections commission? Has he done that? No — we might not like his opinion.”

Second District Congressional hopefuls Peter Theron and Charity Barry — both only considering possible candidacies — spoke about federal issues. Orlando Owens, considering a run for state treasurer, spoke about the need to recruit and run good candidates in the upcoming elections. Cindy Werner, who is working with the Frederick Douglass Foundation, also spoke and said at the end of her remarks that she is considering a candidacy for lieutenant governor.

A representative from Wisconsin United For Freedom, or WUFF, also spoke about choices.

“So we started because two years ago, in 2019, Democrat Gordon Hintz introduced a bill that would remove our personal exemption for vaccines, for children in school and daycare. And we as parents, we want to make our own decisions for our own children,” remarked Tara Czachor from WUFF.

Echoing a familiar liberty theme from many of Saturday’s picnic speakers, Czachor closed with a quote from Thomas Paine: “I prefer peace, but if trouble must come, let it come in my time so that my children can live in peace.”

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