The Wisconsin Legislature’s top environmentalist is the latest to call it quits. Democrat Spencer Black of Madison has become the 17th of the 99 Assembly members to say he’s not running for re-election this fall. The 59-year-old Black told the Wisconsin State Journal he could probably be re-elected but “It’s a good time to pass the torch.”
Black tried for years to pass a clean energy law similar to the one that failed in the most recent legislative session. He called it disappointing, but said it did not play a role in his decision to step down. Black also had a hand in passing the state’s recycling law, a mining moratorium, bans on phosphorus in fertilizer and dish detergents, and the creation of the Stewardship Fund to protect the state’s most pristine lands.
UW-Madison Politicial Scientist Charles Franklin says especially under a Republican Governor the future for the Clean Energy Jobs Act is “limited” without Black.”You really need a champion in the legislature somebody who makes it their one and only focus and Black did that with this particular bill (Clean Energy Jobs Act) and environmental bills in general.”
Assembly Democrat Mark Pocan of Madison says he cannot think of anyone who’s had a bigger influence on the environment in Wisconsin, outside of Gaylord Nelson.
The future of partisan legislative control has been looming with every lawmaker retiring. Black is the sixth Assembly Democrat to step down, along with 10 Republicans and Independent Jeff Wood. Franklin says one must look at how those retirements are distributed.
Charles Franklin (:30)
Currently no one registered to run for Black’s seat representing the 77th Assembly District in the fall election. But state Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus says Black has to know that quote, “Assembly Democrats’ days in charge are numbered, and there’s no doubt he doesn’t want to go back to the days where his far-left agenda gets neglected by more reasonable leadership.”
Black was first elected to the Assembly in 1984.