News & Politics

Wisconsin Democrat Retires, Opens Door for More GOP Gains

House members, from left, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Rep. Steven Rothman, D-N.J., and Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., applaud on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 5, 2010, during a news conference where Rep. David Obey, D-Wis. announced that he intends to retire at the end of his term this year. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) announced he will not seek reelection next year after more than two decades in Congress. He represents a Western Wisconsin swing district carried by former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020.

The 3rd District seat Kind has held since 1997 was already a top target for the GOP in 2022.

“Truth is I’ve run out of gas,” the congressman from La Crosse told reporters this week. “Representing the people in your home area in the United States Congress has been unquestionably the greatest honor of my life. But I never intended it to be an honor for my entire life.”

Kind is one of seven House Democrats who represent a district carried by Trump. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois’s 17th — culturally and geographically similar to Kind’s — is another. She announced her retirement in April after a decade in Congress. 

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Wisconsin’s 3rd is a mix of farms, rolling hills, and manufacturing towns on the Minnesota border along the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers. Even before Kind won 25 years ago, Republicans held the seat for all but two terms going back to 1908.

In 2016, Kind ran unopposed, and he rolled to reelection by 19 points two years later. However, Kind defeated first-time candidate Derrick Van Orden by fewer than 3 percentage points last fall. Van Orden, a retired United States Navy SEAL and Republican, plans to run again.

Kind recently came under fire for renting out a massage parlor to a woman who “lost her occupational license in another state after local police linked her to human trafficking and prostitution,” the Washington Free Beacon reported last month.

Between attrition, redistricting, history, and political reality, it seems a “red wave” is already commencing.