Election Season Heats Up: Sen. Gudex, Reps. Heaton and Knudson Not Seeking Reelection

With election season right around the corner, Wisconsin lawmakers are making important decisions on campaigning and reelections. So far, three prominent Wisconsin lawmakers have decided to not run for reelection.

30th Assembly District – Rep. Dean Knudson

Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) has announced he will not be seeking reelection to the 30th Assembly District. Knudson serves on the powerful Joint Committee on Finance (JFC). Knudson’s departure will leave an open seat on the influential budget committee.

No one has yet declared their candidacy for the open seat in the 30th Assembly District.

85th Assembly District – Rep. Dave Heaton

Freshman legislator Rep. Dave Heaton (R-Wausau) has also announced he will not run for reelection. In 2014, Rep. Heaton edged out Democratic incumbent Mandy Wright by 86 votes for the 85th Assembly seat, and was considered to be one of the Wisconsin GOP’s biggest victories. Heaton serves on the Committee on Children and Families, Committee on Consumer Protection, Committee on Judiciary, Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, and Speaker’s Task Force on Urban Education.

Republican Pat Snyder, a former radio host and aide to U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy has announced his candidacy to the seat. Snyder lost a 2012 election to the open seat against Mandy Wright.

Prior to Heaton’s announcement Mandy Wright had announced her candidacy for the now open seat. Wright served one term before being beat by Rep. Heaton in 2014

18th Senate District – Sen. Rick Gudex

In the Senate, Sen. Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac) announced in November he would not be seeking reelection to the 18th Senate District. The first term state senator was elected in 2012 and will complete his four year term following at the end of 2016. Sen. Gudex, president pro tempore of the Senate, serves on the Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges. Additionally, Sen. Gudex is the chair of the Committee on Economic Development and Commerce and vice-chair of the Committee on Workforce Development, Public Works and Military Affairs. Gudex is also a board member for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Following Gudex’s announcement, Fond du Lac County GOP Chair Dan Feyen announced his plans to run for the open Senate seat. Feyen has served as the county chair of the party since 2007.

Democratic Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris announced in September that he would challenge Sen. Gudex in 2016. Harris has emphasized the need to spend more on public education funding and increase job growth. Harris challenged U.S. Rep. Glen Grothman for a U.S. Congressional seat in 2014, losing by nearly 16 points.

Also running for the seat on the Democratic side is John Lemberger, an Oshkosh school board member and a UW-Oshkosh College of Education and Human Services department chair.

Additional retirement announcements should be forthcoming. On average, 10 legislators retire or choose not to seek reelection each session. However, a record number of legislators did not return for the 2015-2016 session, therefore retirements could be below average in 2016.


2016 Election Timeline

February 1, 2016: Iowa Caucus

February 16, 2016: Wisconsin Spring Primary for Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Top two candidates move on to the general election.

April 5, 2016: Wisconsin Presidential Primary and Wisconsin Supreme Court General Election

August 9, 2016: National, State, Local Partisan Office Primary Election (excluding the U.S. President)

November 8, 2016: National, State, County, Local Partisan Office General Election