'One-fifth of a membership changing': 25 lawmakers vacating state Assembly, Senate seats
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The exodus from Madison is continuing. Two more Republicans say they won't seek another term in the state Assembly, bringing the total number of those vacating their seats to 25.
Representatives Joe Sanfelippo and Cody Horlacher will be moving on, for a total of 19 leaving the Assembly and six leaving the state Senate. We asked our political analyst for insight.
Mordecai Lee says the number of those stepping down year-to-year ebbs and flows.
"There's always turnover in politics, always changes, people coming and going. But one-fifth of a membership changing, it strikes me as high," said Lee, Marquette University professor emeritus.
Lee says losing so many members all at once puts the state at risk to lose what he calls institutional memory.
Rep. Sanfelippo hasn't said why he won't seek another term. He's been in office since 2013.
Rep. Horlacher is stepping down to run for Waukesha County judge.
"I mean it's sort of usual that some people want to run for higher office so they don't run for reelection, or some people want to retire or whatever it may be. But this is a large number, hitting 20 percent, a fifth of the membership is really unusually high and I really wonder if something's going on behind the curtains that we can't see," said Lee.
Wisconsin will be saying goodbye to six senators, including Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville), Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point), Kathy Bernier (R), Roger Roth (R-Appleton), Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) and Janet Bewley (D-Mason).
In the Assembly statewide there are another 10, including Jesse James (R-Altoona), Rachael Cabral-Guevara (R-Appleton), Beth Myers (D-Bayfield), Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit), Gary Tauchen (R-Bonduel), Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton), Jim Steineke (R-Kaukana), Dianne Hesselbeing (D-Middleton), Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), and Tyler Vorpagel (R-Plymouth).
In addition, the Milwaukee area is losing nine Assembly members, including Ken Skowronski (R-Franklin), Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem Lakes), Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R- Fond du Lac), Timothy Ramthun (R-Campbellsport), David Bowen (D-Milwaukee), Sara Rodriguez (D-Brookfield), Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin), Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) and Cody Horlacher (R-East Troy).
Most are Republicans and Lee says that's a surprise, given that Republicans are the majority party.
"When you're a member of the minority party, you really don't get to do anything. You might as well phone it in because you're the minority. You can't control the outcome. So it's possible that some of the Republican members are saying, what am I doing here? I'm a voting machine. I have to vote the way the leadership tells me," said Lee.
We reached out to Rep. Sanfelippo, but didn't hear back.
In a statement, he called it a "distinct honor to represent the people of West Allis and New Berlin."