MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Longtime Democratic state Sen. Bob Jauch, of Poplar, will retire and not seek re-election next year.
Jauch announced his intentions at a news conference Wednesday in the state Capitol. The 67-year-old Jauch was first elected to the Senate in 1986 after serving four years in the Assembly.
Jauch's Senate district covers the northwestern corner of the state along the Minnesota border and along the shores of Lake Superior.
Jauch was one of the 14 Senate Democrats who fled the state in 2011 in an effort to block passage of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposal effectively ending collective bargaining for public workers. More recently, Jauch has been an outspoken critic of the bill making it easier to open an iron ore mine in his district in the Penokee Hills.
News Release from Bob Jauch (D-Poplar):
MADISON – State Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) has announced that he will not seek re-election in the fall of 2014. Jauch made the announcement at a press conference in Madison this morning.
“This is an emotional and difficult decision to make,” said Jauch, who has represented the 25th Senate District since 1987 and has served in the legislature since 1983. “Every day for the last 31 years I have dedicated 1,000 per cent of my effort to represent northern Wisconsin and fight for the issues that matter to them. I love the district and have profound respect for the citizens I serve. Beyond words I am grateful for the confidence and trust that has enabled me to serve in the Wisconsin State Legislature.”
Jauch said the reason he decided to retire was because he was too tired to sustain the level of commitment and the high standard of representation his constituents have a right to expect. “After traveling almost 750,000 miles and being involved in most of the of the Legislature’s most contentious issues, including bookends of the violent spear fishing controversy and the volatile mining debate I have the same passion as I had on the first day 31 years ago to fight for the issues that matter to the citizens of the north. However, I simply do not have the energy to maintain that commitment in a political landscape where representative democracy is on life support.”
“I concluded that I don’t have another 125,000 miles in my tank,” he said.
The Northern Lawmaker also reflected on his career achievements, most of which were bipartisan victories, including authoring one of the largest property tax cuts in state history, saving 350 jobs at the Flambeau Paper Mill in Park Falls, and negotiating the Aging School Reform Act in 1984 which increased safety standards for public schools and provided hundreds of millions of dollars in to help school districts modernize their facilities and help property taxpayers.
Jauch said that representing northern Wisconsin is difficult because the area is “so geographically and politically isolated from the rest of the state. Too many of my colleagues believe that highway 29 is Wisconsin’s northern border and they don’t understand the needs of the north.”
He stressed that he and others were able to resist “misguided attempts to close the University of Wisconsin-Superior Campus and instead successfully worked to reinvest funds in facility improvements that revitalize the institution of higher learning that is so vital to the citizens of northern Wisconsin.”
“I have had to constantly fight to assist northern communities with infrastructure projects, address rural school funding concerns and make sure that funding formulas are fair to the north,” he said.
Jauch noted that he is especially privileged to have played a role in ensuring that northern Wisconsin citizens have access to affordable quality health care. “I am proud to have played an important role in expanding rural health clinics throughout the north enabling thousands access to good dental care. As a Viet Nam veteran I am especially proud of the important role I played in the establishment of Federal Veterans Administration health clinics in Superior, Hayward, and Rice Lake.”
Jauch said that he came from a proud school of politics where elected officials felt they had a responsibility to work through difficult problems together. “I have spent my career reaching out to those with different ideas in search of solutions that are fair and lasting. It is the tradition where elected officials respect each other. Instead of hammering each other, we hammered out differences in order to get something done that is good for all.
The legislature and the political environment no longer encourages these types cross party collaborations added Jauch, a recent development that has made good governing nearly impossible.
“Recent efforts to achieve common ground have been rejected by those who act as though compromise is a sin. Moderation, which has always been a mainstay in Wisconsin politics that has led to common sense compromise serving the common good, has been suffocated by those who seek to win at any cost,” he said.
“One of the more important lessons I have learned is that in order to be successful in the political process it is necessary to avoid black and white but rather charter whatever the course necessary to achieve what is good and right. Most often there is no definitive road map but it is easy to point the compass in the right direction, maintain a sense of purpose of what is good and just and be willing to fight to get results.”
While he is retiring in January 2015, Jauch says that he is not surrendering to the need to be involved. “In the next 15 months and thereafter I will work just as hard to find responsible solutions to create a better future for our children and their children too.”
News Release from Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau):
State Senator Scott Fitzgerald released the following statement regarding Senator Bob Jauch’s (D-Poplar) retirement announcement:
“Senator Jauch has served his constituents admirably for many years. Northwestern Wisconsin is losing a tireless advocate for policies that protect our natural resources and maintain family supporting jobs in an area of the state that has struggled economically over the years. I wish Bob the best of luck in his future endeavors.”
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) represents the 13th Senate District, which covers portions of Dodge, Jefferson, Waukesha, Washington, Dane, and Columbia counties.