Republican state Sen. Pam Galloway, one of four Republican senators being targeted in recall elections, announced Friday that she is retiring from the Senate.
Her resignation, effective at midnight Friday, leaves a Senate with an even split between Republicans and Democrats — and will cast Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Minority Leader Mark Miller as co-leaders of the legislative body.
"After a great deal of thought and consideration, I've decided to put the needs of my family first. My family has experienced multiple, sudden and serious health issues, which require my full attention," Galloway said. "Unfortunately this situation is not compatible with fulfilling my obligations as state senator or running for re-election at this time."
Galloway, a 56-year-old doctor, was first elected to the Senate in 2010. She submitted a letter to the Senate on Friday saying that her resignation would take effect at midnight.
Galloway said in a statement, "For the sake of the electorate, I hope that better days are ahead for this institution."
Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, thanked Galloway for her service and said he knew it was a difficult decision for her. He said her departure was caused by her family members' health problems, not her impending recall election.
"For Pam, family came first," Fitzgerald said.
Galloway is one of four GOP senators now facing recall elections. Her departure leaves the Legislature evenly split 16-16. It comes at the end of the legislative session, but it will change the makeup of committees, including ones that continue to be active when the Legislature is out of session. Fitzgerald said he plans to meet with Miller, D-Monona, on Tuesday to discuss changes.
A year ago, Republicans held a 19-14 majority in the Senate, but that narrowed to 17-16 in August after Democrats ousted two GOP incumbents in recall elections. Republicans lose majority of that house with Galloway's departure.
State Rep. Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, who is running for Galloway's seat in the recall election, said her campaign expects the election to move forward on the same timeline.
"It doesn't change my plans," Seidel said. "We're just letting the dust settle right now. I certainly wish her well."
The recall election against Galloway will still move forward even though she will no longer occupy the seat, said Reid Magney, spokesman for the Government Accountability Board.
According to the elections board, "an official cannot short-circuit the recall process by resigning once recall petitions have been delivered to the GAB."
The election is preliminarily scheduled for May 8. If more than one candidate runs from one party, that election would become a primary with the general election on June 5.
On Friday, two potential Republican candidates emerged.
State Rep. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, said he had talked with Fitzgerald about running for Galloway's seat but needs to talk with his wife before making a decision.
"I've looked at this Senate seat for a long time," Petrowski said.
And state Rep. Mary Williams, R-Medford, is also considering a run.
"This is all happening so fast," said her spokesman Charlie Bellin. "She hasn't had time to talk with her family."