Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, who served more than 24 years in a southwestern Wisconsin district that former President Donald Trump carried in 2020, announced Tuesday that he won’t seek reelection next year.
Kind is just one of seven House Democrats serving in districts won by Trump. His departure only makes it more difficult for Democrats to maintain their majority in the House in next year’s midterm election.
“The truth is I’ve run out of gas,” Kind said during a news conference in his hometown of La Crosse. Kind, a moderate Democrat, said he was part of a “dying breed” of pragmatic politicians who believed in bipartisanship and finding common ground. He said politics shouldn’t be a “constant combat sport” where the goal is to destroy those on the other side.
Kind, the longest-serving Democrat in Wisconsin’s delegation, narrowly won reelection in 2020 by less than 3 points. Trump carried the sprawling western Wisconsin district that borders Minnesota by nearly 5 points. Kind was a top target for Republicans in 2022 as he faced a rematch with Derrick Van Orden.
Kind was first elected in 1996. His announcement that he’s not seeking a 14th term came one day before the U.S. Census Bureau was to release population data that will determine the lines of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts. Wisconsin is not gaining or losing a congressional seat, but the lines of the existing eight districts could change dramatically.
Kind’s district has trended more conservative in recent years. Former President Barack Obama won it by 11 points in 2012, but Trump carried it by more than 4 points in both 2016 and 2020. Kind did not have an opponent in 2016, and won with nearly 60% of the vote in 2018, but he won by just 2.7 points over Van Orden, a retired Navy SEAL, in 2020.
Kind, 58, has said he would have a more difficult time facing Van Orden a second time in 2022.
“Kind’s retirement is the clearest sign yet that Democrats’ House majority is toast,” said Mike Berg, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District covers southwestern Wisconsin and includes many rural communities where support for Trump was strong.
Kind earlier this year did not rule out a possible run for U.S. Senate next year for the seat currently held by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. Kind has long been mentioned as a potential candidate for statewide office, but he’s always opted to remain in the House.