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Sen. Dale Schultz to retire

Published On: Jan 26 2014 11:07:31 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 27 2014 07:39:39 AM CST

Dale Schultz

HILLPOINT, Wis. -

The bitter cold hitting practically all of Wisconsin is not the only big story as a new work week starts.

State Senator Dale Schultz says he's walking away after a lengthy career, choosing to retire after spending the last few of his years in political turmoil.

"I've decided after listening to my constituents, and a lot of contemplation and thought with my wife and my family, that I'm not going to stand for re-election this year."

Those words encapsulating the decision, which has been a long time coming for the Richland Center man first elected to the State Assembly in 1982, and then the State Senate in 1991.

At his farm near Hillpoint, Sen. Schultz recalled telling his wife about the first time he decided that he wanted to run for office.

"She turns and she goes, 'I always knew you'd do this to me,'" remembered Sen. Schultz. "Then she said, 'run and get it out of your system.'"

Sen. Schultz’s stock in the State Capitol has waxed and waned over the years: He won a close race for majority leader of the Senate against Scott Fitzgerald in 2004, later losing that seat when Democrats took control in 2006.

He then became a swing vote during the last three years of contentious bills.

He says his vote on the infamous Act 10 was the hardest vote he registered in 30 years.

"I would say that because it was a point in my life where I had to make a decision on what was most important, what the people of my district wanted as opposed to what would allow me to continue to be a member of the caucus in good standing," recalled Sen. Schultz.

Of his accomplishments, he counts among the biggest the work on the lower Wisconsin Riverway as well as his role in starting Wisconsin’s C-SPAN, the Wisconsin Eye network.

"I know how powerful television is, and I know when people have the opportunity to see what’s going on in the people's house, that’s the ultimate in accountability," said Sen. Schultz.

He laments the state of his party, and admits to still feeling "uncomfortable" with his vote last session on voter ID.

"While I certainly believe we need to safeguard the integrity of the ballot box, I think we have crossed the line on a couple of occasions," said Sen. Schultz. "And it’s been a very uncomfortable situation for me having to vote along with the caucus because I've tried to be a good Republican."

Schultz already had a named primary opponent if he did run, Republican representative Howard Marklein, who Schultz says he won't endorse in the upcoming election due to their disagreements on votes on Act 10 and mining.

"I have always felt it was best to be candid and a straight shooter with people and not having a prompter going in the back of your mind about what might be said," said Sen. Schultz.

Of his future plans, he claims to not be sure.

But he won’t count out running for another office, even a possible congressional bid for the 3rd district if Democrat Ron Kind makes a run for Senate.

But the straight-shooting senator wants to leave his constituents with a thought as he begins his final year in office:

"I have thought it through, I have certainly felt the love and know how much they would like me to stay, at least most of them," said Sen. Schultz. "And I hope that they will recognize that sometimes its just time to move on and that they will take hope in the future."

Schultz is one of three longtime senators to announce they won't run for the statehouse again this year, the others being Democrats Tim Cullen and Bob Jauch.

Those two are also considered moderates.

All have cited the extremes and effect of money in politics as factors in their retirement.

Rep. Howard Marklein of Spring Green is running for Schultz's seat. The Republican released a statement Monday applauding Schultz for his service.

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