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Longtime Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner not running for reelection

Congressman becomes 12th House Republican to retire this year

Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is not running for reelection. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner announced Wednesday that he will not run for reelection next year, according to multiple local media reports.

The longtime lawmaker’s exit means the Badger State is losing its most senior member, and the second-most-senior Republican in the House. He is also the second Wisconsin Republican to announce he is leaving Congress after Rep. Sean P. Duffy said last month that he would be resigning on Sept. 23.

Sensenbrenner told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he was leaving Congress on his own terms.

“You can see the end of the line sometime. Being able to do this on my timetable rather than after a redistricting in 2022 will allow me to go out on a high note,” he said. “This is just me feeling the time would be coming in the next few years, and I think this is the best time for me personally, and for both the Republican Party and for me politically.”

Sensenbrenner has represented the Milwaukee suburbs since he was first elected in 1978. President Donald Trump carried his 5th District by 20 points in 2016 and Sensenbrenner won a 21st term last year by 24 points.

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Known for his gruff demeanor, Sensenbrenner is the 12th House Republican this cycle to decide against reelection while also not seeking another office. 

He is a senior member and former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, where he helped write the Patriot Act after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has been a leading voice on updating the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court struck down certain provisions of the law in 2013. Sensenbrenner was also one of the lawmakers who managed the impeachment trial against President Bill Clinton. 

The longtime Republican lawmaker is known for his frequent town hall meetings with constituents. He told CQ Roll Call last year that he was concerned about the increasingly tense nature of those meetings.

“That’s something that concerns me about the future of American politics,” Sensenbrenner said at the time. "If we can’t respect others’ opinions … we’re going to be damaging democracy, and we’re going to be damaging the type of respect that’s kept this country together.”

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Simone Pathé contributed to this report. 

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