Longtime Democratic state senator won’t seek re-election

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A second longtime Democratic Wisconsin state senator won’t be running for re-election this fall.

Mark Miller, who represents a heavily Democratic Madison-area seat, announced on the Senate floor Tuesday that he won’t seek a fifth term this November. Democratic state Rep. Melissa Sargent, one of three Democratic Assembly members in his district, announced she would run to succeed him.

Miller’s seat is safely Democratic. He joins Sen. Dave Hansen, whose Green Bay-area district is more of a toss up, in announcing this month they would not run again. Republicans currently hold a 19-14 majority.

A former fighter pilot, Miller has served in the Senate since 2005 after spending six years in the Assembly. He was the minority leader when Senate Democrats fled to Illinois in 2011 in a vain attempt to block a vote on then-Gov. Scott Walker’s signature law that stripped public workers of their union rights.

Miller , of Monona, told his colleagues Tuesday that a winner-take-all culture has come to dominate political campaigns and government. He suggested legislators schedule committee hearings and votes on any bills with bipartisan sponsors and a nonpartisan process for drawing legislative district boundaries.

Republicans currently control the Senate 19-14. The retirements of Miller and Hansen will create two open seats. Miller’s district covers much of Madison and its eastern suburbs and leans heavily Democratic.

In addition to Sargent, the district’s other Assembly representatives are Gary Hebl, of Sun Prairie, and Jimmy Anderson, of Fitchburg. Hebl said he was considering running for the seat and hoped to make a decision by the end of the month. Anderson declined comment.

Hansen had been in the Senate since 2001. His district leans conservative, and Democrats will face an uphill fight to retain it.Hansen’s nephew, De Pere alderman Jonathon Hansen, has announced he’s running.