A Wisconsin state senator who gained national attention as a staunch opponent to Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill last spring will not run for higher office next fall.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page Monday, Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, announced he will not seek his party’s nomination to fill the 2nd Congressional District seat.
In the statement, Erpenbach said the political and economic climate in Wisconsin is too drastic for him to leave his position to seek higher office.
Erpenbach was one of the 14 Wisconsin senators who fled to Illinois to avoid voting on Walker’s budget repair bill.
Due in large part to name recognition, University of Wisconsin political science professor Donald Downs said the state senator would have been a very strong candidate for the 2nd Congressional District seat, which in the past decade has resoundingly gone to Democrats.
The actions of Walker and Republican legislators over the past nine months, Erpenbach said in the statement, have threatened Wisconsin’s history as a leader in worker’s rights.
“I want to fight to have our state’s corporate class show some of the personal responsibility that we demand, rightly, of all our citizens,” Erpenbach said. “I want to fight for good jobs, healthy businesses, and respect not only for the people who own those businesses but for the people who do those jobs.”
Erpenbach said he is frustrated with the political divide that has occurred in the state, and said he has not seen signs of the bipartisanship promised by Republican legislators.
Congressional races in the state, Downs said, have become exceedingly one-sided over the past decade as both parties have worked to gerrymander districts in their favor.
He said this has led to a more even split of Republican and Democratic congressmen and women from Wisconsin, but he also said it has eliminated much of the sway voters in the state have in congressional elections.
For this reason, Downs said the Democratic candidate in the 2nd district who wins his or her party’s nomination will most likely win the overall election.
Dane County Treasurer Dave Worzala entered the race earlier this month. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and Rep. Kelda Helen-Roys, D-Madison, have also announced their intentions to run for the seat.
In the original article, the headline said Sen. Jon Erpenbach would not run for Senate, when it should have said he would not run for U.S. Congress. The article has been edited to correct the error. We regret the error.