After nearly three decades in office, Madison’s longest-serving City Council member knew he might fail at the polls in last week’s election.
Ald. Tim Bruer, who has represented the South Side’s 14th District since 1984, said he pondered whether to even run again last fall and is coming to terms with his loss to newcomer John Strasser. He also left the door open to a comeback.
"I think I’m beyond the temporarily bruised ego," Bruer said by phone as he was traveling out of state Friday. "I’m surprised it hasn’t more adversely affected me on a personal level."
Bruer said he was ousted by a "perfect storm" of events — an opponent who was unemployed with time to campaign backed by an aggressive Democratic Party of Dane County, the district’s changing demographics, and his own resistance to spending a lot of time knocking doors due to commitments to his own job and responsibilities as a sitting council member.
"I had no additional time," he said. But, he added, "It starts and ends with me. The voters of the 14th District have spoken. I respect that."
Bruer, who has yet to contact Strasser, said he intends to do so when he returns next week and continues to be committed to the interests of the district and city.
He said he’s deeply proud of a record that included improving some of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods and bringing new investment to the area, but many newer residents were unaware of the change that has occurred.
Strasser, he said, stuck to a message, and the Democratic Party deployed a "hit team" that fueled his opponent’s campaign with strategy, volunteers and other support.
Bruer, who always touted his independence, said he couldn’t match the party’s modern campaign techniques and that he laments the increasing involvement of parties in nonpartisan races that once depended more on the engagement of neighborhood leaders and groups.
Strasser and others said Bruer had grown out of touch and ran a poor campaign.
Asked if he’d run again, Bruer said, "Who knows. You never say never."