Wisconsin Senate's top Democrat won't seek reelection

Janet Bewley

The Wisconsin state Senate’s top Democrat said Tuesday that she won’t seek reelection this fall.

Minority Leader Janet Bewley (D-Mason) said she wants to spend more time with her recently retired husband and grandchildren. She said it's time for her to make room for a new generation of "progressive and pragmatic leaders."

Bewley, of Mason, represents a section of far northern Wisconsin that includes Superior and Ashland. She was first elected to the Assembly in 2010 and won election to the Senate in 2014. Her caucus elected her minority leader in 2017.

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Bewley's announcement comes after state Rep. Gordon Hintz announced in December that he would resign his position as Assembly minority leader. Assembly Democrats picked Greta Neubauer as their new leader on Dec. 20.

A host of legislators have announced they won't seek reelection in November.

The Republican retirees include Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, Reps. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, Gary Tauchen and Amy Loudenbeck, who is running for secretary of state, and Sen. Kathy Bernier.

The Democratic retirees include Reps. Beth Meyers, Diane Hesselbein, David Bowen and Sara Rodriguez. Hesselbein is running for state Senate and Bowen and Rodriguez are running for lieutenant governor. Sen. Jon Erpenbach also has announced he won't run again; Hesselbein is running for his seat.

In a statement, Bewley said:

"Serving the people of Northern Wisconsin in the State Legislature has been the honor of my lifetime. When I first ran for office in 2010, I had no idea how rewarding it would be to represent one of the most beautiful and creative parts of this great state. After 4 years in the Assembly and almost 8 years in the Senate, it is time for me to make way for a new generation of progressive and pragmatic leaders from a part of the state that has produced so many.

"I love being a Senator, but am looking forward to spending more time with my husband, who recently retired himself, as well as my children and grandchildren. I remain committed to leading my colleagues in the Senate as we finish up the 2021-22 Session and supporting Governor Evers as he moves Wisconsin forward."

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