Sen. Herb Kohl to retire
May 13th, 2011
10:44 AM ET
3 years ago

Sen. Herb Kohl to retire

Washington (CNN)- Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl announced Friday that he will retire after serving four terms in the Senate.

A Democratic source tells CNN, "The DSCC [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] has made sure that all these decisions were made and announced very early in the cycle. Democrats are confident that we can keep the seat."

Kohl released a written statement saying, "On a day much like this one, in May, 1988, I announced my intention to run for the United States Senate."

"Even though I continue to love this job, I have decided that the time has come to give someone else the opportunity to serve…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."

Democrats currently hold a 53-47 advantage in the Senate, with 21 Democrats and to independents who caucus with the Dems. But the recent Democratic track record in Wisconsin isn't good.

During the 2010 midterm elections Republicans won two Democratic-held seats in Wisconsin as well as the governorship. Then-incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold was also unseated after serving three terms in the Senate.

Thirty-three Senate seats are up for re-election in 2012. Democrats must defend 23 of them.

Kohl currently serves on three key Senate committees including Senate Appropriations; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a statement following news of Kohl's impending departure saying, "Senator Kohl's retirement, just like his Democrat colleagues who stepped aside before him, immediately presents another key opportunity for Senate Republicans next year. It also further dilutes the ability of national Democrats to go on offense, while they fight to maintain their dwindling Senate majority."

Nineteen months before Kohl is due to depart the Senate, potential candidates are already testing the waters. A Democratic source close to Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin tells CNN "she's very likely" to run for Kohl's seat and another Democratic source close to Rep. Ron Kind says "he's seriously considering" running for the Senate.

Possible Republican candidates for the Wisconsin seat include Rep. Paul Ryan, state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, former Rep. Mark Neumann, former Rep. Mark Green, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and businessman Tim Michels.

Congressman Paul Ryan made the following statement after learning of Senator Kohl's decision not to run for re-election.

"I was surprised by Senator Kohl’s announcement and want to take some time over the next few days to discuss this news with my family and supporters before making any decision about how I’m best able to serve my employers in the First Congressional District, our state and nation."

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. ConservaFASCISTS

    Good luck for any republican trying to take this seat. You guys dug yourselves a hole in Wiscinsin.

    May 13, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    Didn't want to go down to defeat with all the other Democrat Senators and Obama in 2012. Good move. I expect many more to make the same decision.

    May 13, 2011 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  3. gt

    KOHL a man of few words .... and less political accomplishment... he wont be missed....

    May 13, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. derpydoo

    Good. 1 less Dumbocrat.

    May 13, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. A. Goodwin

    Hey Democrat Class Warfare – This is Wisconsin!! Fact is, it will go to a Democrat – no doubt about it. If you ACTUALLY follwed what is going on in that state, you would know that many of the GOPers that were voted in during the 2010 election cycle may not keep their seats. There is a HUGE recall effort, and so far it looks like a few will get tossed. Wisconsin will probably never vote GOP again. Thank goodness. I'm an independent, but I'm tired of the GOP...and I'm not alone.

    May 13, 2011 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. DOCinPA

    Hate to see ya go; but, probably good timing, Senator. With all of the angst in Wisconsin over the Republicans, a GOP'er would certainly have an uphill battle to take your seat. @Democrat Class Warfare, take off your rose colored glasses.

    May 13, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  7. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    Good luck for any republican trying to take this seat. You guys dug yourselves a hole in Wiscinsin.
    ===============================================================================
    The hole was already there from the Democrats and their union buddies digging it. Republicans have offered a way OUT of the hole. People in Wisconsin see and know this.

    Democrats all around the country have mismanaged government finances and given their union backers unwarranted pay and benefits that the states simply cannot afford any more. So if the people of Wisconsin and all across the nation want fiscal disasters at the state and federal level, then keep voting for Democrats. If you want fiscal responsibility, vote for Republicans. It really is that simple of a choice.

    May 13, 2011 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  8. Doug Richardson

    ... thank you Herb Kohl for your very long and dedicated service to the great state of Wisconsin. The Kohl family/org has been so dang good to Wisconsin, Herb ya done good! Wisconsin owes you a debt of gratitude, hopefully we can repay you at some level, some day. Herb Kohl leads by quiet yet firm example, we need more like him helping guide our country.

    Thank you!

    Doug Richardson
    formerly of Madison, WI .. now Denver CO

    May 13, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. Aaron

    The author could have mentioned that Ryan made himself virtually un-reelectable with his plan to dismantle Medicare and cut taxes for corporations. There is also the statewide drive to recall the state Repub senators who are working for the billionaire Koch brothers along with the governor.

    May 13, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. alpine75

    Kohl never introduced any bills of importance while in the senate. The reality is he bought his seat. He was always sort of the invisible senator. It always felt like we only had one senator with Feingold. I never agreed with Feingold but at least he actually was productive.

    May 13, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  11. Marty

    Sen Russ Feingold anyone?

    May 13, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  12. Grondahl

    Agreed with everybody saying Republicans won't maintain their footing in Wisconsin. Scott Walker has seen to that.

    May 13, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  13. Doug Richardson

    ... Russ Feingold would be a fantastic choice, Marty ...

    May 13, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  14. Kris

    For anyone who thinks Republicans will easily take more seats in Wisconsin, just remember that the new Republican governor believes there isn't any money to pay teachers, but there is plenty of money to build a freeway. Pretty sure when you expose your hypocrisy within 4 months of taking office, your buddies aren't going to benefit.

    May 13, 2011 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. Kris

    And frankly, anyone who believes that any Senator "doesn't do anything" does not understand the legislative process. Senator Kohl rarely was challenged, because he worked for Wisconsin. Even his political opponents have praised him.

    May 13, 2011 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  16. mckillio

    Two terms too long #termlimits

    May 13, 2011 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  17. AZ DEM

    Russ Feingold is going BACK to the Senate!!! Scott Walker signed over this election when he signed that union busting bill...way to wake up the beast Scott!!

    OBAMA 2012

    May 13, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  18. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    just remember that the new Republican governor believes there isn't any money to pay teachers, but there is plenty of money to build a freeway.
    ===============================================================================================
    Gee, this is news. Hadn't heard there were NO TEACHERS BEING PAID in Wisconsin. So all the schools have been shut down? Come on... enough with the ridiculous hyperbole.

    And are you proposing that all of the money be spent on giving teachers what ever they want and letting the roads decay and sensible road projects stopped? Get real.

    May 13, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    way to wake up the beast Scott!!
    ===========================
    precisely the problem AZ DEM, the unions ARE beasts that have consumed states and their budgets. Time to tame the beast and restore fiscal sanity and government that people can afford.

    May 13, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  20. Dave H.

    Another Senate Seat going back to Republicans .

    May 13, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. vic , nashville ,tn

    Republican senatorial Committee dreaming they can take over the senate it won’t happen soon
    Paul Ryen budget plan Medicare cut but give subsidies to oil companies when the gas price is $4
    Many republicans control state focusing on social agenda than state economy

    May 13, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. razmataz

    I like how clueless the Dems seem to be about Wisconsin. In spite of the fact that their Reps fled the state instead of doing their jobs. and 80% of the protesters at the Capitol were from out of state and being paid to be there; the Governor won the day, the unions lost, the Dems lost and will lose more. Wisconsin's going RED!
    In spite of what the union members say, the MAJORITY of Wisconsinites are not in favor of public unions!

    May 13, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. Sam

    More Democrats jumping off the sinking ship . Republicans will take back this seat easily .

    May 13, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. razmataz

    Grondahl

    Agreed with everybody saying Republicans won't maintain their footing in Wisconsin. Scott Walker has seen to that.

    May 13, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
    ____________________________________________________________
    Man that must be some powerful koolade they're gving you Dems up there. The UNIONS LOST, the GOVERNOR + the PEOPLE of Wisconsin won the day, in spite of all the out of staters at your demonstrations. WISCONSIN IS NOW A RED STATE and will be for a long time to come. BTW, I hear a lot of new business are moving to Wisconsin due to some of the actions of your great new Governor.

    May 13, 2011 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  25. chucksmom

    Sad day for Wisconsin. Senator Kohl fought for WI families, animals and our environment for many years and was a model of integrity in such a dirty, dishonest forum. Thank you for your service Senator Kohl. Enjoy your retirement.

    May 13, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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