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Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke discusses decision not to run for reelection

Posted at 10:12 AM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 11:12:00-05

KAUKAUNA, Wis. (NBC 26) — After almost 12 years in office, Republican State Representative Jim Steineke announced he won't run for reelection this fall.

"I don't believe in people serving for decades," he told NBC 26.

The Kaukauna-based Assembly Majority Leader says he wants to rejoin the private sector.

And he says increasing division between Wisconsin Republicans and Democrats played a part in his decision.

"For the first eight years of my career, we were able to get things done fairly easily and quickly," Steineke said. "And now, not so much. Because the legislature and the governor just seem not to communicate very well. ...The toxicity is a real problem."

In response, a spokesperson for Democratic Governor Tony Evers provided a statement.

Jim Steineke robin vos
FILE - In this May 15, 2019 file photo, Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, right, and Majority Leader Jim Steineke, left, speak in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin's Republican Assembly leaders are breaking with President Donald Trump over possibly delaying the Nov. 3, 2020 presidential election. Speaker Vos and Majority Leader Steineke tweeted Thursday, July 30, 2020, that they oppose delaying the election, a date that is enshrined in federal law and would require an act of Congress to change, including agreement from the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer File)

"Gov. Evers is grateful for Rep. Steineke's service to the people of our state and has appreciated the opportunities both he and our office have had to work together with the representative," the statement read in part.

"We've tried to reach out and tried to have regular meetings with the administration and just haven't been successful in building that relationship," Steineke said. "So that's unfortunate."

But the 5th Assembly District representative says there's blame to go around within both parties.

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"I haven't always been perfect," Steineke said. "I've taken my shots here and there, but have tried to remain respectful and do it based on policy, not personality."

Winning the last four elections, Steineke says he's most proud of his work trying to help children receive mental healthcare.

"If it was only the constituents that I was contemplating on continuing to serve, that would be an easy choice because they have been great," he said. "My district is phenomenal."

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In response, a spokesperson for Democratic Governor Tony Evers provided a statement.

His two-year term expires at the end of 2022. And he expects to serve it in full.

"I know there's a lot of good people in my district that are more than capable to serve and I'm looking forward to see who comes out of the woodwork," Steineke said.

During his tenure, the Republican lawmaker helped pass Act 10 in 2011, dealing with public unions and collective bargaining.