U.S. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has announced his plans to retire in 2021, after serving for over 40 years. The announcement makes Sensenbrenner the 14th Republican, and the 18th member of Congress overall, who will not be seeking another term in 2020.
Sensenbrenner’s announcement has raised concerns for a Republican Party that is seeking to retake a majority in the House of Representatives next year. While 14 Republicans now plan to retire, only four Democrats plan to do the same.
There have been fears that this could lead to a repeat of the 2018 cycle, where Republicans lost their House majority, due in large part to a historically high number of retiring Republicans: Nearly 40 Republicans retired in 2018 for various reasons, with 12 of those seats subsequently flipping to Democrats.
Sensenbrenner is the second Republican Congressman from Wisconsin to announce his plans to leave Congress soon, after Rep. Sean Duffy of the 7th District announced his resignation two weeks ago. Wisconsin remains a crucial battleground state going into the 2020 election cycle.
Sensenbrenner, 76, is by far the longest-serving member of Congress from Wisconsin, first elected in 1978 to represent the 9th District. The district was eventually redrawn into 5th District in 2003, which remains the seat that Sensenbrenner currently holds. The second senior-most member of Congress from Wisconsin, Democrat Ron Kind of the 3rd District, was elected in 1996.
Sensenbrenner is the second senior-most member of the House overall, only behind Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who was first elected in 1972. During his time in Congress, Sensenbrenner served as chairman of the House Science Committee during the final years of the Clinton presidency, then as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee during the first six years of George W. Bush’s tenure. He previously served for four years in the Wisconsin Senate before being elected to the House.