State Senate chambers at the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison.
State Senate chambers at the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison. (Photo by Christina Lieffring)

Petrowski’s retirement creates a vacancy up north as several long-term lawmakers say they won’t run in 2022.

The list of retirements from the Wisconsin state Senate grew to six on Thursday, with 24-year-veteran Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) announcing that he will not seek reelection.

Petrowski is the third member of the GOP to announce plans not to seek another term, joining Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls), and Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton). Roth is running for lieutenant governor.

The Democrats not returning are Minority Leader Janet Bewley (D-Mason), Sen. Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville), and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point), who was elected to the Senate in 1999.

Additionally, Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) said this week he will not run again due to changes in his legislative district under new maps adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, assuming they are not overturned on appeal to the US Supreme Court.

In addition to the six senators, so far 13 members of the Assembly have announced plans not to run again in the fall.

Petrowski was first elected to the Assembly in 1998 and then the Senate in 2012. Petrowski, 71, noted the six counties of his northcentral Wisconsin district in announcing his retirement.

“I represent 91 towns, 26 villages, seven cities, and portions of 31 school districts – all across six counties,” he said in a statement. “It is a sizable district and takes over 4 ½ hours to drive from one end to the other.”

Erpenbach, 60, was one of 14 Senate Democrats who left the state in 2011 in a failed attempt to block passage of then-Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining law that became known as Act 10. He served as Senate majority leader from 2003 to 2005 and has been on the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee since 2015. 

Erpenbach advocated for expanded access to health care throughout his career. He also authored the bill that created Wisconsin‘s “do not call” list in 2001.