Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley says she’s not ready to make a decision about running for reelection next fall.
Part of that is to shield her members contemplating retirement from any extra pressure.
“If I were to announce something, then everybody is going to say, ‘Well the leader did, so you should,’” Bewley said in a year-end interview with WisPolitics.com. “I gotta give my members the chance to make the right decision for them.”
Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Town of West Point, has already announced he won’t seek reelection after more than two decades in the Senate. Among Senate Dems, insiders are also watching for decisions from Bewley, 70, and Janis Ringhand, 71 and from Evansville. Bewley said she’s not expecting many retirements from her caucus.
Other than Bewley, those members all have safe Dem seats under current maps.
“The thing is that they’re all individuals, so who knows?” Bewley said.
The state Supreme Court is expected to set new lines for the Legislature and Congress early next year, and some members are waiting for the new lines before making a decision. Dems are currently in a 21-12 minority, keeping Republicans from a veto-proof majority by just one seat.
Bewley said success next fall would be bringing back all of her incumbents.
On other issues:
*Bewley said she is open to taking a closer look at the state’s bail system. Still, she’s cautious about a complete overhaul. Republicans have called for changes since the Milwaukee County DA’s office suggested bail of $1,000 for Darrell Brooks, who was released 11 days before his SUV plowed through the Waukesha Christmas parade.
She said the $1,000 bail was a “big” error in judgment.
“You do not totally overhaul a system,” Bewley said. “You look at what happened and you try to correct it so it doesn’t happen again. You do not automatically blame a system and say, you know, ‘Off with everybody’s head.’ You take a serious look and do everything you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
*Bewley questioned the effectiveness of mandates when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. She said Wisconsinites who have been hesitant to get the vaccine are more likely to get if it there’s an appeal to their willingness to “do the right thing.”
“I think people have an automatic resentment to being told what to do, being told, ‘You have to do this,’” she said.
“I think what we need to do is create a situation where they’e going to want to do it.”
*WisPolitics.com recently interviewed Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, last week. It is scheduled to interview Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, in early January.