Steps down after four terms. Rep. Joan Ballweg announces campaign minutes later.

Senator Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, announced in a statement Monday that he will not be seeking re-election in November and will retire at the end of the year.

Minutes later, Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, said she will be running for the seat he’s leaving after four terms.  Olsen is the third senator to announce he will not be seeking another term. Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, and Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, also are retiring.

Olsen was first elected to the Senate in 2004, after serving in the Assembly for 10 years. He serves as vice-chair of the powerful budget-writing Joint Finance Committee and chair of the Senate Education Committee. 

“For the last 26 years, I have walked into the Capitol building and admired its beauty and history and reflected on the responsibility I have as an elected official. It has been an honor to serve in the state legislature, but there comes a time in life when it’s time to move on,” Olsen said. “Throughout my career, I have tried to be thoughtful, compassionate, and reasonable and have looked for long-term solutions to problems, rather than relying on quick fixes.”

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, described Olsen as a “fighter for the people of the 14th Senate District throughout his career.” 

“His constituents were always well represented by his voice in Madison and he played an important role in our conservative reforms during the last decade,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “I’ve greatly enjoyed serving with him in the Legislature and wish him well in retirement.”

Viewed as one of the moderate Republicans in the Capitol, Olsen survived a recall attempt in 2011 after supporting former Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 elimination of collective bargaining rights for many public sector workers. He had served 10 years in the State Assembly before winning the Senate seat in 2004. His district stretches from just north of Madison all the way north to Clintonville on the Waupaca-Shawano county line.

In announcing his retirement, Olsen said he looked forward to spending more time with his family and wife Joan, watching his grandchildren grow up, and riding his Harley.