Shilling steps down Friday in western Wisconsin swing district

    Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, (D - La Crosse), during the session. On Wednesday April 15, 2020 the Wisconsin State Senate in Madison, held a virtual session to take up legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the state will receive more than $2 billion in federal aid. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL

    State Sen. Jennifer Shilling is stepping down earlier than she originally anticipated, effective at the end of the day on Friday, after submitting a letter to Senate President Roger Roth. She said her intention is to “explore career opportunities” and she is looking to make certain she can avoid any conflict of interest. 

    State law requires lawmakers to resign if any potential employment opportunity could cause a conflict of interest with their state government work as elected officials. 

    Under state elections law, the governor must fill the vacancy as soon as possible if it occurs before May 15, the date of her resignation. 

    Shilling said in a statement that she is vacating her position knowing the timing is right for her to “close this chapter and take on new challenges.” 

    As a lawmaker that has made keeping open and friendly dialogue even with political opponents — with her famed Chex Mix diplomacy’ sharing snacks — she departed with many kind words for her district, her constituents, state employees and her colleagues. Shilling represented the western Wisconsin La Crosse area first as an Assembly representative and then as state senator for two decades.

    Democratic Senate leader Jennifer Shilling after meeting with Gov. Tony Evers a year ago to talk about the legislative session and priorities. (From Shilling via Twitter)
    Then-Democratic Senate leader Jennifer Shilling and Gov. Tony Evers. (From Shilling via Twitter)

    “The Driftless Region is full of the kindest, most caring and hardest working people you’ll ever meet. I’m humbled by the fact that residents in western Wisconsin have repeatedly put their faith in me to be their voice and advocate for our shared values. I will never forget the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve developed over the years,” she said.

     “After almost 20 years in the Legislature, the time is right for me to close this chapter and take on new challenges. To everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside, interacting with, and learning from, thank you from a very full and grateful heart!”

    Shilling’s Senate district will continue to be served by her staff for anyone needing state services. Competing for her senate seat in the November election currently are former Agriculture Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff as a Democrat and former Republican legislator Dan Kapanke, who Shilling beat by just 56 votes in 2016.

     Legislative staff will continue to serve residents of the 32nd Senate District through the end of the year.  Individuals who have legislative questions or who need assistance accessing state services can contact [email protected] or 608-266-5490.


    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.