State Sen. Jon Erpenbach will not seek re-election after more than 20 years in office

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in 2022.

Erpenbach, who represents District 27, was first elected to the State Senate in 1998. His district spans much of western Dane County and parts of Sauk, Iowa, Green, and Columbia Counties.

“It’s not so much retiring, I’m just not going to be a state senator anymore,” Sen. Erpenbach told News 3 Now on Wednesday. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen next. It’s one of those things where once it gets in your mind where you think maybe you don’t want to do something that you’ve been doing for the last 24 years, it’s probably time to stop doing what you’ve been doing the last 24 years.”

The West Point, Wis. lawmaker announced his decision in a statement on Wednesday. He’s well known as one of the 14 Democrat senators who left the state for Illinois briefly in 2011, to stall the Act 10 legislation from passage.

He’s also well known for one of his early career highlights in 2001, when he authored the bill that created the first No Call List in Wisconsin–a precursor to the federal version as well. Additionally, his work on Healthy Wisconsin was also an early precursor to the Affordable Care Act, with language from his legislation used in the final federal bill, he said.

“I have been humbled by those who have placed their trust in me to represent their values in the legislature for over 20 years,” Erpenbach said. “I would like to thank my family, friends and staff that have supported me throughout my 24 years in state service.”

He is currently in his sixth term in the State Senate. He served as Senate Democratic Leader from 2002 to 2004, and serves now on the powerful finance committee. The outgoing senator said he will miss the people that he people who he has worked with, but that the decision to leave was pretty easy once he began to consider it.

“I got a great district. It’s beautiful. It’s the heartbeat of the state,” Erpenbach said. “That is the best part about the job: just driving around the district, meeting constituents, and working with them on issues they care about.”

Messages from Erpenbach’s colleagues flooded in following his announcement.

“Throughout his tenure, he centered his constituents and ordinary Wisconsinites in everything he did,” State Sen. Melissa Agard said in a statement. “Jon’s leadership, wit, and levity will be missed by all.”

In a statement, Rep. Dianne Hesselbein thanked Erpenbach for his service.

“Jon has represented his constituents with deliberation and commitment in the State Senate for many years,” Hesselbein said. “He is one of the finest communicators I have ever met.”

State Sen. Janet Bewley thanked Erpenbach for his role on the Joint Finance Committee, and recalled his career as one filled with humor, compassion, and common sense.

“He’s very smart, he’s even-tempered, and you put those two things together and you have one heck of a statesman,” she said in an interview. “The man has been in both the majority and the minority, so he knows what it’s like to be in both columns.”