Hintz to exit the Assembly Democratic leadership stage

He cites his family and articulates Dems’ successes over the past four years

By: - December 13, 2021 4:13 pm

Minority Leader Gordon Hintz’ official Facebook page

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh)  announced Monday that he’s stepping down from his leadership role effective next month.

Hintz has been at the helm in the Democratic caucus in the Assembly through four years that included COVID, a state budget and some of the most politically polarizing times in the most politically polarized body in the state, all while raising two young kids in Oshkosh.

Gordon Hintz walks onstage the the 2019 Wisconsin Democratic convention | Courtesy of Hintz’ office

He cited his wife Liz and two children, Beatrix and Gethin, who are both under the age of five, as his reasons for making his decision. He also laid out, in a release, the successes that Democrats have had…something rarely talked about in the Legislature where Speaker Robin Vos has built a Republican political juggernaut, targeting resources to GOP causes and deploying his acumen for political messaging.

Vos had some kind words for Hintz: “I’ve enjoyed working with Gordon over the last four years. While we don’t agree on policy we certainly share a love for the state of Wisconsin and a desire to see growth and prosperity for all the people that make it such a great place.”

“Serving in a leadership position demands a significant amount of time and I respect his decision to focus on his family,” Vos added in a statement. “I wish him the best of luck and look forward to continuing to work with him in the Assembly.”

Hintz is known around the Capitol for being among the strongest and most articulate voices on the Democratic side pushing back against Vos and Republican leadership, often with a dose of humor.

“As his former colleague in the Assembly, I always appreciated his innovation, his ability to message effectively, and helping to bring new voices to the caucus,” said Sen. Melissa Agard, who served in the Assembly before being elected to the Senate two years ago.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (via WisEye 10/30/19)
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (via WisEye 10/30/19)

“After choosing to seek another term in 2020, I was committed to serving as Assembly Democratic Leader through the 2021 state budget process and redistricting,” said Hintz.

Hintz’s list of Democratic accomplishments includes battling Republicans on a number of issues.

“We have been innovative and effective in articulating our message,” said Hintz. “We led the successful effort to hold Governor [Scott] Walker accountable for the Foxconn debacle, unaccountable tax giveaways, and record debt borrowing to pay for our roads – leading to his defeat in 2018.”

From the Democratic perspective, stopping Republicans from running the table is a success, particularly after eight years during which Walker and Republicans controlled both the legislative and executive branches of government.

“We have upheld Governor [Tony] Evers’ vetoes on every single attempt. We have continuously fought back against extreme efforts by Republicans to divide our state and to undermine our democracy. And in the last two election cycles, Assembly Democrats have picked

up seats and returned every single incumbent, despite the most gerrymandered maps in American history.”

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Hintz ended his announcement by saying he felt confident and optimistic about the future of Assembly Democrats, adding, “I’m grateful to the leadership team that I served with, and look forward to the many talented newer members ready to step up. …. I look forward to continuing to serve alongside my Democratic colleagues in the Assembly as we work to charter a brighter course for the people of Wisconsin.”

Speculation quickly turned to who might take his place. A likely place to look is to the rest of the Assembly Democratic leadership team: Assistant Minority Leader Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), Minority Caucus Chair Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit), Minority Caucus Vice-Chair Lisa Subeck (D-Madison), Minority Caucus Secretary Beth Meyers (D-Bayfield) and Minority Caucus Sergeant-at-Arms Kalan Haywood (D-Milwaukee). Two other posts considered among the most influential in the Legislature are the Joint Finance Committee members, which includes Rep.  Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Greta Neubauer (D-Racine).

Minority Leader Gordon Hintz in session April 14, 2020. Pool photo: RICK WOOD/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

Indeed, Neubauer indicated to her local paper that she is considering a run for the minority leader position, which is elected in a vote by members within the Assembly Democratic caucus. Hesselbein has expressed an interest in running for the state Senate seat that will be open with Sen. Jon Erpenbach’s announced departure, saying she will need to wait until the new redistricting maps are established, but said last week that it is “highly likely I will run.”

Asked about running for minority leader, Subeck says, “I am not planning to at this time,” and Goyke, who had his first child this year during budget season, is even more to the point: “Nope.” Spreitzer says he will make up his mind Tuesday.

Another potential contender, Spreitzer responded to Hintz’ news: “From standing up for Wisconsin taxpayers against the Foxconn catastrophe to working to keep people safe through the COVID-19 pandemic, Gordon has led our caucus through tremendously challenging times.”

Currently there are 38 Democrats and 61 Republicans in the Assembly.

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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.

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