Wisconsin’s longest-serving congressman will not run in 2022, he announces.
US Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) on Tuesday announced he will not run for re-election next year, bringing an end to a more than two-decade run in Congress that saw him win 13 terms despite a changing political landscape in the western Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District.
“Representing the people in our home area has been the greatest honor of my life, but I never intended it to be an honor for my entire life,” said Kind, the longest-serving member of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation.
In an announcement speech given in La Crosse, Kind highlighted his track record of bipartisanship and work for farmers, veterans, and the environment. But he said his time in Congress—where he represents a sprawling district ranging from Platteville to Eau Claire to Wisconsin Rapids—has taken its toll.
“The truth is, I’ve run out of gas,” Kind said.
In his speech, Kind also lamented the rise of extreme polarization during his time in politics.
“I’m part of a dying breed in public service today in Washington, and certainly in Madison—someone who tried to be reasonable, pragmatic, thoughtful, work hard to find common ground with my colleagues, work in a bipartisan way to find bipartisan solutions to the challenges that we faced,” Kind said.
Kind’s retirement casts a shadow over Democrats’ hopes of keeping the 3rd Congressional District in 2022; former President Donald Trump carried the district in 2016 and 2020, and Kind narrowly defeated Republican Derrick Van Orden in 2020 with just over 51% of the vote.
Van Orden, who attended the Jan. 6 US Capitol riot and has traveled the district advocating for schools to drop mask requirements amid the pandemic, has already announced he is running again.
However, it is unclear how the 3rd Congressional District will lean after the political redistricting process in which district boundaries are redrawn to account for population changes.
Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said in a statement that Kind and his family will “continue to play an important role in the direction of our state.”
“For more than two decades western Wisconsin has been able to count on Ron Kind,” Evers said. “Thanks to his tremendous leadership, countless small businesses, farmers, and families have a brighter future ahead of them. While his voice in Congress is going to be sorely missed, his legacy as a pragmatic and selfless leader will continue to move Wisconsin forward.”
Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin praised Kind for his bipartisan track record.
“He worked hard to support our Wisconsin farmers and understood the importance of carrying on our state’s proud tradition of being a national leader on issues of environment protection and conservation,” Baldwin said in a statement. “I know the people he has represented in Congress appreciate the fact that he worked to expand access to quality, affordable health care, and that he stood up to those who have tried to take it away.”
US Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Town of Vermont) said “Ron always put the state and western Wisconsin first, and his hard work and dedication will be missed.”