For the Record: GOP Sen. Kooyenga on upcoming departure; says Gableman investigation has ‘run its course’

For The Record: Rep. Dale Kooyenga Talks About His Next Steps

MADISON, Wis. — Marking the 30th state legislator to announce their departure from the Assembly or Senate at the end of this year, Republican state senator Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) joined For the Record with Naomi Kowles on Sunday after announcing this week he would not run for reelection.

He had previously planned to run, but said in a statement announcing his departure that he made the decision in the best interests of his family, as well as military and private sector careers. According to a WisPolitics analysis, departures from the legislature are now at their highest since 1954.

“Constituents deserve someone to be present in the district,” Kooyenga said on For the Record. “They deserve them to have an interest and the time to dive into a lot of different issues. So as I move forward in my different careers and my four kids are older, I just decided that being 80% there was not the right answer.”

In terms of the politically tumultuous events he cited in his outgoing statement, he added he was referencing the recent redistricting cycle.

“Maps went back and forth, and  in the maps that were proposed by Gov. Evers to the Supreme Court, I was triple-gerrymandered out of the district,” he said. The maps would have both moved him out of the district as well as changed the lines of his district to reflect voters that had voted for President Biden by 19 points in the last general election, rather than the 9 points for Biden from his current constituents.

RELATED: For the Record: Wis. Supreme Court reverses course

Kooyenga, who was first elected to the Assembly in the red wave of 2010 before moving to the Senate, also lamented the “toxic politics” of today’s political culture in Wisconsin. He said fringes have come to dominate both parties and resulted in policies that don’t reflect the needs of the broader population.

“I think this is part of a larger American issue where people have made politics their religion. They have their sermons from their favorite politicians, their talking heads,” he said. “I think they find their faith and salvation through their politics, and my faith and salvation is through my lord and savior Jesus Christ, it’s not through my politics.”

When asked about the ongoing Assembly investigation into the 2020 election led by Michael Gableman, Sen. Kooyenga joined a small minority of Republican lawmakers who publicly state the investigation has run its course. Citing last year’s audit from the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau as the Senate-preferred and endorsed option, he noted it was time to “move on”.

“From a Speaker’s perspective,” he said of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, “you have to understand what the Speaker’s job is, which is why a lot of speakers are not very popular. And that is, speakers are always trying to form a very very wide coalition to keep that party together,” he said. Vos chose to extend the investigation again last week.

“I’ll let the Assembly do what the Assembly does; I’m in the Senate. But personally, I’d probably err on the side that that’s probably run its course and it’s time to move on.”

Watch the full interview at the top of this article.

Marquette Law Poll: Senate race tightens

Political reporter Will Kenneally joined Naomi Kowles to talk about the latest results from the Marquette Law School poll released this week, finding frontrunner Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes’ lead had dropped to 19 points from the last poll and Bucks executive Alex Lasry’s polling rising higher to 16 points.

Watch the discussion below: