Sen. Kohl Announces Retirement
After 22 years of holding office, the Democratic senator is done.
- Update: it's official.
After 22 years in office, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) announced Friday he will be retiring:
"On a day much like this one, in May 1988, I announced my intention to run for the United States Senate.
"I promised then that if the people of Wisconsin sent me to the Senate, I would work my heart out every day. And I would be nobody's Senator but yours.
"Every day since then I have done my best to keep that promise to the people of the state I love.
"The greatest honor and the greatest responsibility of my life has been to serve as Wisconsin's United States Senator. But I have never believed this was my Senate seat. I always knew and understood that it belongs to the people of Wisconsin. At the end of this term, I will have served in this office for 24 years.
"So even though I continue to love this job, I have decided that the time has come to give someone else the opportunity to serve. Therefore, I am announcing today that I will not seek another term as your Senator. Rather, I will devote all my energy and time in the next 19 months to continuing to serve the people of our state.
"As you know, I spent much of my life in business. At Kohl's, as well as at the Bucks, we had the best employees to be found anywhere. They always put the customer first.
"As a Senator, I have had the finest staff anyone could ever have. And they have always put the people of Wisconsin first on every issue, large and small.
"I've always believed that it's better to leave a job a little too early than a little too late. And that's how I feel today. The interest and energy I have for this job will find a new home at the conclusion of this term.
"Finally, I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to all the fine people I've met along the way. From one end of Wisconsin to the other – from Milwaukee to Superior, Kenosha to Eau Claire, LaCrosse to Green Bay, Madison to Wausau, and all points in between – the people of Wisconsin have been enormously kind and generous to me and I have attempted to return their friendship and trust with an unremitting effort to improve the quality of life for everyone in our state. They have enriched my life in so many ways and it has been an honor and a privilege to serve you and each and every person throughout Wisconsin."
Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, reacted to the news around noon Friday.
"On behalf of all of us in Wisconsin, I want to thank Senator Kohl for his service in the United States Senate," Walker said in a prepared statement. "He has been a tremendous advocate for Wisconsin — as well as a great supporter of our state in both his public and private life. We thank him for more than two decades of service."
Another long-time politician, U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said in a prepared statement that he "salutes" Kohl for his service to Wisconsin residents.
"While Senator Kohl and I have disagreed on many policy issues over the years, he has always served Wisconsinites with honor and integrity," Sensenbrenner said. "I commend him for his commitment to Wisconsin as a senator, a businessman and for his many good philanthropic works.
“I have enjoyed working with Senator Kohl and I wish him well as he looks to begin a new chapter of his life.”