Now 65 and living in Lodi, Wis., McCallum wryly compares being lieutenant governor to warming the bench for Aaron Rodgers. “There are always things you don’t know, but you are always prepared,” he says. “It was a little difficult in my case because I took over right as the budget was being introduced, and I had one week to revise an unbalanced budget.” McCallum wasn’t the first lieutenant governor to take over on short notice: Lt. Gov. Martin “Marty” Schreiber, a Democrat, traded the slumberous post for the hot seat in 1977 after Gov. Patrick Lucey’s resignation.
Parts of Schreiber’s time, McCallum wanted to emulate, and others he wanted to discard. “I always felt comfortable with who I was, even though it wasn’t always the politically safe way,” he says. However, “It was complicated … Tommy had been in for so long.” He’d given McCallum about a month of lead time before going public with his plans to decamp for D.C. Kleefisch would likely have about the same interval before Walker announced a similar plan, according to McCallum, who suspects she’s already prepping.
“If she becomes governor, there will be no shortage of people who think they are her best friend and will have no shortage of advice,” he says. “There is a kinship among lieutenant governors. I’ve been there, and I’m willing to help if she needs it; but I’ll let her come to me.”