Friday, July 19th, 2019

State Senator Mary Lazich not running for re-election, Craig running


(Note: Headline updated to note State Rep Dave Craig is running to replace Lazich. See below.)

One of the most frustrating disappointments in the state senate, Mary Lazich, has decided not to run for re-election:

Today I am announcing that I am not seeking re-election. It has been an immense honor and pleasure to serve the people of Senate District 28. During recent years Governor Walker and the Republican led Legislature guided the state through turbulent times. While the work was hard, the reward is great. Wisconsin is much more fiscally secure and many government shackles have been opened. Wisconsin residents and business are much better situated to pursue life with less government intrusion and with freedom to live, educate, and work with greater independence.

Thank you to my husband, Glenn, my family, friends, and constituents, for prayers, love, and support during many campaigns and my time serving public office. Thank you to my dedicated staff for working through the turbulent times. Thank you to my colleagues for electing me to serve as Senate President. It was a pleasure working with each Senator. Thank you to the great members of the Wisconsin State Assembly. Together we worked hard to serve the people of Wisconsin.

During the remainder of my term I will continue to assist constituents and work with colleagues to keep Wisconsin moving forward.


Senator Mary Lazich

Lazich became a state senator in 1998 a special election* to succeed Lynn Adelmann who became a federal judge, the Faustian bargain that gave Republicans a temporary majority until the recall of State Sen George Petak. She defeated Democrat Brian Manthey in a race noted for its awkward-but-loud radio debate moment when Lazich accused Manthey of lying about her.

In 2004, Lazich criticized the idea of Taxpayer Bill of Rights in a press release titled, “To Tabor or not to Tabor.” Then State Senate Majority Leader Mary Panzer, also opposed to TABOR, was defeated in a primary and replaced by Glenn Grothman. An election for a new majority leader was held and State Sen Dale Schultz (also opposed to TABOR) defeated State Sen Scott Fitzgerald by one vote, 10-9, on a secret ballot. The group Citizens for a Responsible Government canvassed the senators and ten of them, including Lazich, claimed they voted for Fitzgerald. Pretty soon it was discovered that Lazich lied to CRG (and her constituents) and actually voted for Schultz. It became obvious when Lazich was appointed to the Joint Finance Committee and as assistant state Senate majority leader, a post she later resigned as an act of contrition. After the controversy, Lazich publicly became a supporter of TABOR.

In 2014, Lazich became the first female state Senate President in Wisconsin history.

Governor Scott Walker released the following statement today:

“State Senate President Mary Lazich has left a real mark on state government. I appreciate her many years of service to her district and our beloved state. Mary and I served together in the state Assembly and even shared a carpool for a few years. There, I saw her devotion to her core values. She will be missed and we wish her well.”

Lazich’s decision not to run for re-election will start the Republican backroom discussions over her successor. The jostling behind the scenes will probably be more important than who actually runs. It is a pretty safe seat for Republicans so the August primary will probably determine who holds that senate seat for some time.

The three state representatives in her senate district are (left to right in the Blue Book): Ken Skowronski, Dave Craig and Mike Kuglitsch. Craig had expressed interest in running for Waukesha County Executive when Dan Vrakas decided to retire, so he may be looking for a promotion. Also Town of Waukesha Chairman John Marek has an interest in moving to the state legislature but could base his decision on Craig’s decision.

Look for issues like the senate’s failure to pass the minimum markup repeal and the REINS act to appear in any primary.


Update! 6:44 PM Just spoke with Town of Waukesha Chairman John Marek he is not in but he expects that State Rep Dave Craig will be making an announcement “soon.”

Update! 6:54 PM And just like that, Dave Craig is in.

(Thanks Matt for catching it.)

Update! 10:44 PM  Is Mike Kuglitsch out? The Racine Journal Times is reporting, “Kuglitsch aide Matt Spencer says Kuglitsch told him he didn’t see Lazich’s retirement coming and running for Senate wasn’t in his plans at the moment.”

*Disclaimer: I worked on the campaign during the primary. I won’t name the team that helped her win the general election to protect the guilty.

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