Jauch plans retirement at end of Senate termAfter 31 years in the Wisconsin Legislature — two spent in the Assembly — Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, announced today he won’t seek re-election in 2014.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
After 31 years in the Wisconsin Legislature — four spent in the Assembly — Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, announced today he won’t seek re-election in 2014.
“This is an emotional and difficult decision to make,” Jauch said during a press conference in the Senate Parlor in Madison. “For 31 years, every day I have dedicated 1,000 percent of my effort to represent northern Wisconsin, and fight for the issues that matter to them. I love the district and have profound respect for the citizens I serve.”
Jauch has served since 1986 in the 25th Senate District, representing Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Douglas, Iron, Price and Washburn counties, along with parts of Burnett, Dunn, Polk, St. Croix, Sawyer and Vilas Counties, a district as large as Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
He also served the 75th Assembly District, after spending almost a decade as the northern field representative for former Wisconsin Congressman Dave Obey.
During his tenure in the Wisconsin Senate, Jauch has served as a minority leader, and at times, as a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. He serves now as the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Revenue, Forestry and Mining, and member of Committee on Financial Institutions and Rural Issues. He is vice chairman of the Legislative Council Study Committee on 911 Emergency Communications.
“I didn’t make this decision because I am too old,” Jauch said. “In the past 3½ years, I have had more sleepless nights than during any time during the first 28 years.”
Jauch estimates he’s logged almost 750,000 miles representing the people of Wisconsin’s northernmost senate district. And he’s been involved in most of the of the Legislature’s most contentious issues — from the spear fishing controversy of the 1980s and ’90s to the ongoing debate over mining in the Penokee Range.
“I could not have asked for a better mentor as I have been inspired every day by Bob’s unparalleled commitment to improving the lives of all Wisconsin citizens,” Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range said in a prepared statement. “One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from Bob is how to get things done the old-fashioned way, through hard work, bipartisanship and seeking compromise for the greater good.”
That’s one of the things Douglas County Board Chairman Doug Finn said he is going to miss when Jauch leaves office next year.
“We’re going to miss his experience, his energy,” Finn said. Whether advocating for the partnership that brought the Twin Ports Outpatient Veterans Clinic to Superior in the late 1980s or getting the state involved in efforts to bring Kestrel Aircraft Co., to Superior, Finn said Jauch has long been an advocate for the people of northern Wisconsin.
Filling Jauch’s shoes won’t be easy, Milroy said in an interview with the Superior Telegram. After all, the Legislature is losing decades of institutional knowledge and someone who with a level of commitment and a willingness to work tirelessly for the people he represents, the representative from the 75th Assembly district said.
“Bob’s biggest legacy is his ability to get things done when others couldn’t connect the dots,” Milroy said.
“He knows this district inside and out,” said Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen, a friend since the early 1970s, when Jauch served as a field representative for Obey.
Hagen said while he and Jauch haven’t always agreed politically, they have been able to work together to get things done, and he considers Jauch a friend of his administration — today and during Hagen’s first stint as mayor from 1975 to 1987.
Jauch was always outspoken, Finn said. He said it may not have been what people wanted Jauch to say, but it was usually right for the state.
“Sen. Jauch’s decision is a great loss to all of Wisconsin, not just the 25th Senate District,” Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, wrote in a prepared statement. Cullen announced last month that he won’t be seeking re-election next year either “His family gains from his decision, but democracy in Wisconsin loses.”
Jauch, Cullen and 12 other Democratic senators fled to Illinois to stall passage of a budget bill and push for negotiations in 2011 to stop efforts to strip most public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights.
Jauch and Cullen also worked more recently with Republican Sen. Dale Schultz of Richland Center in an effort to temper Republican-driven ferrous mining legislation.
While Jauch’s decision not to run is the right one for him and his family, Schultz said, “it’s an enormous loss for the state” because of the bipartisan bridges Jauch has been able to build over the years.
“His never-ending optimism in the face of today’s ‘take no prisoners’ politics has been very helpful to me,” Cullen said. “We now have our last 15 months in office to continue to push Wisconsin’s political process back toward logic and progress.
While Jauch is planning to step down at the end of this term, he said he will still be involved, encouraging others to engage their government, and using his hobby in photography to open people’s eyes to the beauty of Wisconsin.