Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum


Rep. Jesse Kremer, a firebrand conservative lawmaker from Kewaskum, said Tuesday he will not seek re-election later this year. 

Kremer, who plans to complete his second term in the Assembly, said he will return to his previous private-sector career as a pilot. Kremer has often said he preferred not to act with re-election in mind.

"The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation. I, for one, have strived to fall into the latter, a statesman, rather than the former, a politician," Kremer said in a statement.

Kremer frequently drew the ire of Democrats and sometimes clashed with his Republican colleagues.

He was the architect of some of the most controversial bills introduced in the state Legislature while he was in office, including a bill that would require transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding with their sex at birth, a bill that would require food stamp recipients to use photo IDs for their purchases and a bill that would allow guns to be carried on school grounds.

Most of those bills failed to pass, but a 20-week abortion ban Kremer championed was signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker. Walker has also called for the Legislature to pass the photo ID requirement for FoodShare cards before the end of the current session. 

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The governor also signed into law a measure authored by Kremer and Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp. 

Kremer was also behind legislation that would punish students who disrupt speeches on college campuses. The proposal was adopted as a University of Wisconsin System policy. 

During a debate on the bill, Kremer asserted the Earth is 6,000 years old. He then criticized journalists for reporting on his statements, which he said were not newsworthy, but thanked his critics and the media for giving him a platform to "proclaim my faith and personal, deeply held beliefs."

Kremer said he regrets a few things he could not accomplish: "that he was not able to secure Wisconsin classrooms with a true security that will deter mass maniacs in our midst and that he did not have "the ability to protect more of the members of our society with no voice — the pre-born." 

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.