Tears were flowing in the state Senate last night as four long-time lawmakers said goodbye.
The four senators heading into retirement -- Sens. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, and John Lehman, D-Racine -- have nearly 100 years of legislative experience between them.
"Friends are not easy to come by in politics," Schultz said.
Schultz, a moderate Republican who was first elected to the Assembly in 1982, has in recent years drawn heavy criticism from more conservative members of his party over his opposition to Gov. Scott Walker's controversial move to all but end collective bargaining for public workers in Wisconsin and the recent GOP mining legislation.
He added that there's a saying that if you want a friend in politics, get a dog.
"I have two dogs," Schultz said to laughter from his colleagues on the floor.
Jauch was also first elected in 1982, and spoke about the need for compromise.
"Citizens are increasingly frustrated about the lack of openness and unwillingness to compromise," Jauch said. "They are tired with the 'us versus them rhetoric' in which there is so much blame rather than cooperation that can lead to consensus."
Cullen, who has been a close friend and ally of Jauch and Schultz in recent years, was first elected in 1974 and served until 1986 before taking a break from the Capitol. He returned in 2010.
He talked about the community work he plans to do after leaving office, and said he would finish his book -- joking that fellow lawmakers could pay him cash if they don't want to be included in it.
Lehman was first elected to the Assembly in 1996 and served until 2004. He was elected to the Senate in 2006, and reelected in 2012.