Hopper wrote that he was concerned staying in the race would split the vote and allow a “divisive fringe” candidate to win the primary, apparently referring to state Rep. Janel Brandtjen.
Former State Senator Randy Hopper has suspended his campaign for the 8th Senate District special election today and endorsed State Representative Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) for the seat, according to press release from Hopper and Knodl’s office.
Dan Knodl is running to replace outgoing state Sen. Alberta Darling. The other Republican in the race is state Rep. Janel Brandtjen. The 8th Senate District includes portions of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, and Waukesha counties.
According to Hopper’s press release, he dropped out of the race because he believes “it’s critically important that Republicans are unified and strong to tackle the challenges ahead.”
He noted: “Maintaining the veto-proof majority in the State Senate is crucial in the face of the uncertain outcome of April’s pivotal state Supreme Court election. It’s also critical to ensure accountability for a Democrat Governor who too often puts the desires of far-left special interests ahead of the needs of ordinary Wisconsinites.”
He was concerned his candidacy could make him a “spoiler” by splitting the Republican vote and “allowing a divisive fringe candidate to win the primary, putting at risk Republicans’ chances of holding the seat in the general election.” That is apparently a reference to Brandtjen, who has championed decertification and other controversial measures.
“I am withdrawing from the special election and endorsing Rep. Dan Knodl,” Hopper wrote.
“Since entering politics in 2008, I have believed that I could change the tenor of campaigns and legislating. I believe the people we represent want us to care more about their lives than their elected officials care about their next election. I got into this race because I know I can be very effective and will always put doing the job ahead of keeping the job,” said Hopper.
“I also believe that campaigns should be about sharing ideas and not about tearing others down to get ahead. As I look at this very short timeframe it became clear to me that my path to victory in this election would require a negative campaign strategy against someone I respect,” Hopper said. “We saw that happen in our last Governor’s primary, having lingering effects throughout the general election. As a Republican, I will not participate in destroying other Republicans in a primary, damaging my party’s chances of winning a general election.”
He added: “The people of the 8th State Senate District need a Senator that is not afraid to stand up to the political pressures and is willing to lead like my good friend Alberta Darling has done for the past thirty years. The district depends on it. The State of Wisconsin and the Republican Party demand it. And my great friend Alberta Darling deserves it.
For this special election, Dan Knodl is clearly that candidate and I will do everything I can to support him.”
Dan Knodl Announces Other Legislative Endorsements
“Rep. Knodl also announced his first round of endorsements from current and incoming state senators, including Sen. Kathy Bernier, Sen. Mary Felzkowski, Sen.-elect Romaine Quinn, Sen. Rob Stafsholt, and Sen. Duey Stroebel,” Knodl’s release added.
“I am grateful for the endorsement from these former and current colleagues,” Knodl said. “I enjoy good working relationships with my peers in the legislature, and I look forward to being an effective voice for the constituents of the 8th Senate District on important issues such as combating crime, growing our economy, reforming government, and empowering parents.”
The primary in the special election is Feb. 21, with the special election occurring on April 4.
“Rep. Knodl is currently serving his eighth term in the State Assembly. He has served as Assistant Majority Leader, Majority Caucus Chair, and currently chairs the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee,” the release says. “He grew up in Menomonee Falls, owned and operated Reef Point Resort in Hartford for over 30 years, and is a longtime resident of Germantown, where he raised four children and now enjoys his four grandchildren.”
Hopper lost his seat in a 2011 recall election after a series of controversies.