Jim Holperin

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Jim Holperin
Wisconsin State Senate District 12
Former officeholder
In office
2009 - January 3, 2013
Base salary$49,943/year
Per diem$88/day
Elections and appointments
Last electionAugust 16, 2011
First electedNovember 4, 2008
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Assembly Member, Wisconsin State Assembly
1983 - 1993
Bachelor'sUniversity of Wisconsin, Whitewater, 1973
Date of birth12/18/1950
Place of birthEagle River, WI
Office website
Campaign website
Jim Holperin (b. December 18, 1950) is a former Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Senate. He represented District 12 from 2009 to 2013. He was previously a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1982 to 1992. From 1977 to 1979, he was the Chief Clerk of the Senate. From 2003 to 2007, he was the Secretary for the Wisconsin Deptartment of Tourism.

Holperin's professional experiences include director; executive director; business services coordinator; and assistant chief clerk.

Holperin earned a B.S. from University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.[1]

He survived recall attempts in 1990 and 2011.

Issue positions

Sen. Holperin's issue positions, according to his campaign website:

  • Supports alternative energy research[2]
  • Supports increased funding for rural roads[2]
  • Pro-gun, Pro-sporting rights[3]
  • Supports increased funding for marketing Wisconsin tourism[4]
  • Supports more property tax relief for low income homeowners[5]
  • Supports increased aid to technical colleges[6]
  • Supports the logging industry[7]

Committee assignments


In the 2011-2012 legislative session, Holperin served on these committees:


In the 2009-2010 legislative session, Holperin served on these committees:

Legislative walkout

Holperin and the 13 other Democratic senators participated in a legislative walkout on February 17, 2011, in opposition to Assembly Bill 11 - a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at limiting collective bargaining rights, compensation and fringe benefits of public employees.[8] The Democratic departure left the Senate one vote shy of a quorum. Reports confirmed the senators fled to a hotel in Rockford, Illinois.[9] State police were dispatched by Governor Scott Walker (R) to retrieve the senators, but were unable to cross state lines.[10] The 14 state senators who left the state are being described as the "Badger 14" or "Fab 14."[11][12]

On February 22, speaking from the basement of an Illinois hotel, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller provided the minority response to Gov. Scott Walker, saying, "The governor has the tools at his disposal to put this issue to an end. As soon as he is willing to take a compromise, we will go back to work in an instant." Miller stated that the legislators payed for the trip themselves, and that no taxpayer money was spent.[13]

Walker called on the Democratic senators to return to the state by March 1 in order to vote to restructure the state's debt. If they did not, he stated he may have to start cutting state jobs, saying:
It’s not just a number, it’s not just a budget, it’s ultimately a real person with a real family, so I’m going to push that back as far as I can. We’ve got to have real numbers to balance the budget to avoid layoffs. My hope is those 14 state senators … realize that in the end, it’s much better off to avoid those cuts, it’s much better off to avoid the most dire consequences that will come if we don’t pass this bill.[14]
The Democratic senators said they would not return until the governor was willing to compromise on the budget-repair bill.

Democrats threatened with arrest

Republicans passed a unanimous resolution on March 3 finding the missing legislators in contempt and threatening them with arrest. It gave them until 4 p.m. to return or the sergeant-at-arms was ordered to take "any and all necessary steps, with or without force, and with or without the assistance of law enforcement, by warrant or other legal process, as he may deem necessary in order to bring that senator to the Senate chambers."[15]

The constitutionality of that resolution was unclear, however, as the Wisconsin Constitution only allows for the arrest of legislators while in session if they are suspected of committing a felony, treason, or breach of the peace. Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, said the resolution was an "unreasonable abuse of police power."[16]

Sen. Jon Erpenbach provided the Democratic response, stating, "All 14 of us remain in Illinois, very strong in our convictions. Issuing arrest warrants at 4 p.m. isn't going to solve the problem. This is a debate about protection of the middle class in Wisconsin; that is what the Republicans should be focusing on."[15]

The move by Republicans came the day after they issued fines of $100 a day for not showing up at the Capitol, along with taking away parking spaces.[17] The week before Republicans also passed a rule suspending direct-deposit of paychecks. Sen. Erpenbach found a way around this by granting power of attorney to two of his aides, giving them power to, among other things, pick up his paycheck. In the end Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald mailed the check to Erpenbach.[18]

Meeting/possible compromises

On March 7, Democratic leader Sen. Mark Miller sent a letter to the governor and senate majority leader asking for a meeting near the Wisconsin-Illinois border to restart talks on the collective bargaining issue.[19] Gov. Walker responded at a press conference, calling the letter "ridiculous," and saying that several meetings between the two sides have taken place, but that Miller has stood in the way of a compromise.[20]

Sen. Chris Larson said, "Dems will return when collective bargaining is off the table. That could be soon based on the growing public opposition to the bill and the recall efforts against Republicans."[21]

On March 8, the Governor's office released an email exchange dated March 6 between Eric Schutt, Walker's deputy chief of staff, and Democratic Senators Cullen and Jauch. The exchange discusses possible compromises on the bill, including allowing unions to bargain for wages beyond inflation rates, permitting collective-bargaining on certain economic issues, allowing public workers to collectively bargain workplace safety issues, and limiting collective bargaining agreements to 2 years or less.[22]

Republicans pass bill

In a surprise maneuver, Senate Republicans on March 9 passed controversial reforms to the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. In a process that took just over two hours, Republicans passed the bill by a vote of 18-1, with Sen. Dale Schultz (R) casting the only no vote.[23]

Republicans skirted the need for a quorum by removing the sections of the bill that had to do with appropriating funds. With these removed, the bill only needed to be passed by a simple majority -- rather than requiring a quorum of 20 senators. At 4 p.m. on March 9 a conference committee on the budget-repair bill was convened. Two hours later the committee met and advanced the new measure without debate. Immediately following that, the Senate met and passed the new version, also without debate. It was then sent to the Assembly.[24]

The only Democrat present at the meeting, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D), attempted to stop the proceedings, stating that the committee was in violation of the state's open meeting law. According to the law, most public bodies are required to give 24 hours notice before a meeting. The two hours notice that the committee provided led Barca to declare, "Mr. Chairman, this is a violation of law! This is not just a rule — this is the law."[23] Ignoring Barca, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) ordered the vote taken as shouts of protest rang from the galleries.

The bill was given a stay by Dane County Court Judge Maryann Sumi. On May 26, 2011, Sumi struck down the legislative actions leading to the bill eliminating public employee collective bargaining on the grounds that it violated the state's Open Meetings Law. The state Departments of Justice and Department of Administration appealed the decision to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.[25][26] On June 14 the Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled the district court decision, stating it "exceeded its jurisdiction, invaded the legislature’s constitutional powers...and erred in enjoining the publication and further implementation of the act."[27]

Recall campaigns

In the wake of events surrounding the bill, both Democratic and Republican senators were targeted by active recall campaigns. Recall sponsors filed signatures on petitions targeting 6 Republican state senators and 3 Democratic state senators. Challenges were filed in all 9 of those campaigns, and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board approved the six campaigns against Republicans at meetings on May 23 and May 31, and approved the three campaigns against Democrats on June 8. Democrats held onto the 30th District seat on July 19. Republicans lost two seats in the August 9 recalls, but held onto four. Two incumbent Democrats successfully retained their seats on August 16.


2011 recall

Seal of Wisconsin.svg.png
2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results
See also: Recall of Wisconsin State Senators (2011) and Jim Holperin recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2011)

Holperin defeated Republican Kim Simac in a recall election on August 16, 2011.

An effort to recall Holperin from office got underway in March 2011.[28][29] About 23,000 signatures to recall Holperin were filed on April 21, 2011.[30] The GAB was initially scheduled to review challenges to the position on May 31, but it was delayed until June 8. At that meeting the GAB verified 19,255 signatures, enough for the recall, setting the election date for July 19.[31]

Republican Kim Simac announced on May 5 that she would be running against Holperin. Simac is a Tea Party leader and President of the Northwoods Patriots.[32] Current Lincoln County Board Chairman Robert Lussow announced on May 18 that he was joining the race.[33] A primary between the two was held July 19, with Simac easily defeating Lussow.

Holperin defeated Simac in the August 16 recall.

August 16 Recall - District 12[34]
Candidates Votes Percent
Jim Holperin (D) Green check mark transparent.png 30,450 55.12%
Kim Simac (R) 24,682 44.67%
Scattering 110 0.19%

Ads relating to the campaign


On November 4, 2008, Jim Holperin won an open seat to the Wisconsin State Senate, District 12.[35]

Jim Holperin raised $326,813 for his campaign, while Tom Tiffany raised $286,189.[36]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 12 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Jim Holperin (D) 43,595
Tom Tiffany 41,480

Recent legislation[37] sponsored or co-sponsored by Sen. Holperin includes bills increasing the homestead exemption[38] and establishing restrictions for the use of firearms by young people[39].

Campaign donors


According to records available as of May 17, 2011, Holperin raised $18,861 during 2010, a year he was not up for election. Listed below are the top five contributors.[40]

Donor Amount
Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 400 $1,000
Northwestern Mutual Life $1,000
Wisconsin Wholesale Beer Distributors $1,000
Verizon $1,000
Lawton for Governor $1,000


Some of the top contributors to Sen. Holperin's 2008 campaign, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics:[41]

State Senate Democratic Committee, Patricia Miller Friebert, Tony Dicks, Wisconsin Laborers District Council, Ron Ansin, and others

Health care companies and interests were his largest donor group. The majority of contributions were from individuals.

In 2008, Holperin collected $326,813 in donations.

Listed below are the top four contributors to his campaign.[42]

Donor Amount
State Senate Democratic Committee $3,849
Patricia Miller Friebert $1,050
John Koza $1,000
Operating Engineers Local 139 $1,000

External links

Suggest a link


Holperin is married and has two children.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Project Vote Smart - Senator Holperin
  2. 2.0 2.1 Energy policy (dead link)
  3. Gun rights
  4. Tourism
  5. Property tax relief
  6. Tech school aid
  7. Logging
  8. Wisconsin.gov, ASSEMBLY BILL 11, accessed 17 Feb. 2011
  9. Green Bay Press Gazette, Wisconsin Democrats flee to Clock Tower Hotel in Rockford, Ill., to block anti-union bill, 17 Feb. 2011
  10. Bloomberg Businessweek, Senator: Missing Wis. lawmakers left the state, 17 Feb. 2011
  11. The Badger 14
  12. Fab 14 Facebook page
  13. WISN, "State Sen. Minority Leader Responds to Walker," February 22, 2010
  14. Christian Science Monitor, "Wisconsin governor to missing senators: Come back or I'll lay off 1,500," February 28, 2011
  15. 15.0 15.1 Wall Street Journal, "Pressure Mounts on Absent Democrats in Wisconsin, Indiana," March 3, 2011
  16. Wisconsin State Journal, "Senate orders arrest of missing Democrats," March 3, 2011
  17. My Fox Chicago, "Wisconsin GOP Slaps Missing Dems With $100 Daily Fines," March 2, 2011 (dead link)
  18. Talking Points Memo, "AWOL Wisconsin Dem Beats The System, Gets His Paycheck Mailed To Him," March 3, 2011
  19. New York Times, "Wisconsin Democrats Urge New Talks on Labor Bill," March 7, 2011
  20. CNN, "Wisconsin gov: Democratic senator's border meeting idea 'ridiculous'," March 7, 2011
  21. Talking Points Memo, "Wisconsin Dems Deny WSJ Report Of Imminent Return," March 6, 2011
  22. CNN, "E-mails: Wisconsin governor offers concessions on budget bill," March 8, 2011
  23. 23.0 23.1 Miami-Herald, "Wisconsin Republicans bypass Democrats on union bill," March 9, 2011 (dead link)
  24. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Senate advances collective bargaining changes; Democrats to return after Assembly vote," March 9, 2011
  25. Wisconsin State Journal, "Judge strikes down Walker's collective bargaining law, case moves to state Supreme Court," May 26, 2011
  26. Wisconsin Reporter, "Judge: Collective bargaining bill violated open meetings law," May 26, 2011
  27. Shorewood Patch, "UPDATE: Unions Sue to Block Supreme Court's Reinstatement of Controversial Budget Repair Bill," June 14, 2011
  28. "Recall Jim Holperin" website
  29. AOL News, "Wisconsin Election Recall Reality Check," February 23, 2011
  30. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Two state representatives won't run against Holperin," May 5, 2011
  31. WisPolitics, "Dem recalls certified," June 8, 2011
  32. WJFW, "Kim Simac Announces Candidacy for 12th State Senate District," May 5, 2011
  33. Fox 11 Online, "Potential challenger for Sen. Holperin," May 18, 2011
  34. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "District 12 recall election results," accessed August 26, 2011
  35. Wisconsin State Election Results
  36. Follow the Money, "2008 campaign contributions," accessed December 29, 2014
  37. Legislation by Sen. Holperin
  38. Bill 160
  39. [field%20folio-destination-name:%27sb167%27$x=Advanced#0-0-0-219315 Bill 167]
  40. 2010 contributors to Jim Holperin
  41. Sen. Holperin 2008 campaign contributions
  42. 2008 contributors to Jim Holperin
Political offices
Preceded by
Wisconsin State Senate District 12
Succeeded by
Tom Tiffany (R)