Sheriff: State Sen. Rick Gudex killed by self-inflicted gunshot wound

UPDATE 10/12 1:56 p.m. -- Preliminary investigation reveals State Sen. Rick Gudex was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Department.

The senator's body was found at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning in the Town of Eden, Sheriff Mylan C. Fink, Jr. says.

Further follow-up investigation, as well as toxicology results, are still pending.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- State Sen. Rick Gudex, a Republican from Fond du Lac, has died, the Fond du Lac County sheriff's department said. He was 48.

The medical examiner's office is investigating how Gudex died Wednesday, but the sheriff's department said foul play is not suspected.

Gov. Scott Walker, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle put politics aside Wednesday to remember him.

"Rick was a good man who served his community and state well, and he will be missed," Walker said in a statement. "Our hearts and our prayers go out to his wife Kim and their two children during this difficult time."

"Rick will be deeply missed by his Senate colleagues," said Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Gudex was elected to the Senate in 2012 and served in the position of president pro tempore last year, but was not seeking election to a second term. The race for his seat, including parts of Winnebago and Fond du Lac counties, is the most hotly contested in the Legislature this year. Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris is running against Republican Dan Feyen, of Fond du Lac. Republicans held a 19-14 advantage in the Senate this session.

Whoever replaces Gudex will begin their term in January. Given that the seat will be vacant for less than three months, and the election is so close, Walker will not order a special election to fill the seat, his spokesman Tom Evenson said.

Democratic Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling said she was "shocked and saddened," at news of his death, while Republican Sen. Leah Vukmir, of Brookfield, said the state has suffered a "tremendous loss."

"Rick was a true citizen legislator who came to work at the Capitol at a time when he felt his friends and neighbors needed him," Vukmir said. "The people of Fond du Lac and Winnebago counties always knew they had an advocate for them with Rick representing them in Madison."

Gudex, a former mayor of Mayville and member of the Fond du Lac Common Council, was married with two children.

He served in the Senate as chairman of the Economic Development and Commerce Committee; vice chairman of the Workforce Development, Public Works and Military Affairs Committee; and a member of the Universities and Technical Colleges Committee and the Joint Legislative Council.

He also served as a board member of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state's economy development agency.

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