It is regrettable - - but neither surprising or baffling - - that pragmatic, old-school State Sen. Dale Schultz, (R-Richland Center), announced over the weekend he would not run for re-election this fall.
His party has been angry with him since he held up an atrocious iron mining bill after Scott Waller's election because the industry-written plan endangers the state's public water trust.
He was eloquent, fact-driven and completely transparent about it in local and state media.
His reward: Republicans vilified him through their talk radio machine - - even dispatching the private-sector obeisant DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp to lead the attack - - and lined up an opponent for Schultz cloned in the Right-Wing Robotics factory.
Two other consensus-building State Senators - - Democrats Bob Jauch of Poplar and Tim Cullen of Janesville - - are also calling it quits after this session.
Again, who can blame them for wanting to use their productive years in an atmosphere less toxic?
Like Schultz, they are veteran lawmakers who have fought the good fight in a now-militarized State Capitol where moderation is treated by leadership like a virus and special interests serving donors have been given all the keys and access codes.
As Schultz explained a few months ago, citing the mining bill:
Over in the Assembly this bill arrives, nobody is the father of it until (the Republican leadership) all stood up and said, ‘I’m Spartacus,’” he chuckles.
“Silly us that thought we were going to have some opportunity to impact something,” he adds, referring to the alternative mining proposal he worked on with Sens. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, and Bob Jauch, D-Poplar.
For what purpose do people even pursue elected office these days, he wonders.
“When some think tank comes up with the legislation and tells you not to fool with it, why are you even a legislator anymore?” he asks. “You just sit there and take votes and you’re kind of a feudal serf for folks with a lot of money.”
I wish these gentlemen well and thank them for the time they've put in.