12th District State Senator Jim Holperin (D-Conover) announced March 23 that he would not run for re-election this fall.
“I’ve given this decision considerable thought, not just recently but over time,” said Holperin. “Politics and legislating are fascinating and fulfilling work, and I’ve enjoyed 20 years of it in the State Assembly, State Senate and as a cabinet secretary.”
Holperin made history last year as he became the first legislator in the state’s history to survive two recall attempts–first in 1990 when he served in the Assembly, and then in 2011, outlasting Tea Party organizer Kim Simac in an attempt to oust him after he and 12 other Senate Democrats were targeted for leaving the state for three weeks to try to block a vote on a bill curtailing collective bargaining for public employees.
“I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world, but now there are other things I want to do,” continued Holperin. “Whatever success I’ve had politically I owe to the voters and to the thousands of supporters who worked so hard on my behalf over the years, and especially in last year’s recall.”
The race for the seat is expected to garner considerable attention, as Holperin has managed to defy odds for years in what has traditionally been a Republican-leaning area.
“I’m so grateful for that support and I will always appreciate those who gave me the privilege of serving,” said Holperin.
Potential candidates for the 12th District Senate seat include Simac and Republican Tom Tiffany, who currently holds the 35th District Assembly seat. On Saturday, Tiffany issued a statement honoring Holperin for his years of service to the district, and said that he’d take the next several days to decide whether to run for the seat.
“In the next week I will make a decision whether to run for the 12th senate seat after consulting with my family,” said Tiffany. “Wisconsin has laid a new foundation with budgetary and regulatory reforms in this session of the legislature. My decision will hinge on where I can be most helpful in building on that foundation for a better tomorrow for northern Wisconsin.”
Former Minocqua Town Chairman Joe Handrick too commended Holperin on his service to the state.
“I wish to recognize Senator Holperin for his years of service to the people of Wisconsin,” Handrick said. “Political differences aside, as town chairman I and the board found Jim always responsive to our concerns. I wish him and his family the best.”
Handrick succeeded Holperin as the Representative from District 34 in the 1990s. As to whether Handrick would seek to replace Holperin in the seat, Handrick said he would defer to one of the sitting Assembly representatives.
“I will keep open the possibility of a run at this open district,” Handrick said, “However, I will defer to Reps. Dan Meyer, Tiffany, and Jeff Mursau. A sitting incumbent is typically the strongest candidate and I believe that holds true in this case.”
It is unknown who from the Democratic Party may be interested in the seat. Democrats Merlin Van Buren and Roberta Retrum recently announced their intentions to run for the 34th District Assembly seat being vacated by retiring Republican Meyer. Rhinelander Republican City Alderman Alex Young and Woodruff Independent Todd Albano are the only other candidates to officially express interest in that particular seat.