- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - One of the most moderate Republicans in the Wisconsin state Legislature, and the only Republican to vote against Gov. Scott Walker’s union law, will retire rather than take on a more conservative challenger.

State Sen. Dale Schultz, of Richland Center, announced Monday that he would not seek re-election, saying “there’s simply more to life than being senator.” Schultz’s southwestern Wisconsin seat is one of 17 up for election this year, but one of the few considered competitive.

Schultz, 60, will have served 32 years when he retires.

Schultz said he thought he could win re-election if he ran, either as a Republican or independent, but ultimately decided it was time to move on.

“I don’t have anything to prove to anybody,” Schultz said.

He also left open the possibility of another run for office, saying there were some opportunities that intrigued him, without saying what they were. Schultz ran for Congress in 2004 but was defeated by Democrat Ron Kind.

Schultz was first elected to the state Senate in a special election in 1991 after serving nine years in the Assembly. He rose in the ranks, serving as majority leader from 2004 to 2006.

But in recent years, as Senate Republicans have become more conservative, Schultz’s independent streak has upset party leaders and spurred an unusual primary challenge from Republican Rep. Howard Marklein, of Spring Green.

Marklein announced in April that he was running for the seat after Schultz cast a series of votes that rankled GOP leadership. Schultz was the only Republican in the entire Legislature in 2011 to vote against the union law that limited collective bargaining for most state workers to wage increases no greater than inflation. His vote angered Republicans on that issue that led to recall elections against 13 senators and Walker.

Schultz last year also voted against a bill that loosened environmental regulations to ease siting of an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin.

Schultz said he would not endorse Marklein because he was “out of step” with the views of people in his district on the mine and the union law. Marklein issued a statement saying Schultz had “dutifully served his constituents” and that he will be missed by both Democrats and Republicans.

Democrat Ernie Wittwer, who worked 24 years for the state Department of Transportation, is also running for the seat. Democrats have targeted Schultz’s district as a place where they could gain ground in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans 18-15.

Many Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, praised Schultz on his willingness to seek compromise and stand up for what he believed. Republicans were more restrained.

Senator Schultz has had a long and distinguished career in public service,” Walker said in a statement. “I thank him for his contributions to our state.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Schultz’s “wealth of institutional knowledge” will be hard to replace.

Schultz cited the creation of the independent WisconsinEye television network, which broadcasts legislative floor debate, committee hearings and other government-related programming, as one of his greatest accomplishments.

He bemoaned the increase of special interest money in politics, saying “compromise has given way to partisan conformity, and that’s not something in which I’m willing to participate.” In the first six months of last year, Schultz had raised less than $700 for his campaign, compared with $116,000 raised by Marklein.

Schultz is the third-longest-serving member of the Senate to announce his retirement at the end of this year. Sen. Tim Cullen, a moderate Democrat who toured the state with Schultz to call for more bipartisanship and compromise, is retiring, as is Sen. Bob Jauch, a Democrat from Poplar.

The three of them will have served a combined 80 years in the Legislature when they leave.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide