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Madison Mayor Paul Soglin Won’t Seek Re-Election

Soglin Continues Bid To Be Democrats' 2018 Governor Candidate

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin
Shawn Johnson/WPR

Longtime Madison Mayor Paul Soglin announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election to the office.

Soglin, who has served as mayor in three stints over the past five decades, said he is leaving the city “different” and “stronger” than when he first took office more than 40 years ago.

“Making a city run well is something I do well,” he said in a prepared statement.

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Soglin served as mayor from 1973-1979, again from 1989-1997, and from 2011 to the present.

He is one of eight candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for governor. The partisan primary in that race will be held on Aug. 14.

Soglin told reporters in Madison he considered his bid for governor as he decided whether to seek another term as mayor.

“It’s just one factor, but I can tell you this — if I was not running for governor, this would still be the last term,” he said. “Because eight years in this office for one person is long enough.”

In the latest Marquette University Law School survey, released last month, Soglin polled at 7 percent, tying two other candidates in second place in the eight-way race. Thirty-four percent of voters polled said they were still undecided.

Soglin said Tuesday he wants to give Madison voters time to evaluate other candidates for the mayor’s office before the April 2019 election. So far, three candidates have announced intentions to run for mayor including, Madison Alder Maurice Cheeks, executive director of the Tenant Resource Center Brenda Konkel, and former alder and managing director of the Mayors Innovation Project at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, Satya Rhodes-Conway.

When asked if he’d run for mayor again in the future, Soglin said there would be “no third sequel.”

He said his only plans for the future are to be governor.

Soglin first made a name for himself in politics as a student activist in the 1967 “Dow Day” riots in Madison, which saw hundreds of students march and clash with police in protest of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s affiliation with Dow Chemical Co., which made napalm used in the Vietnam War.

He was first elected to the Madison Common Council in 1968.

Throughout his tenure, Soglin has been credited for his role in the development of Madison’s State Street business corridor and construction of the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. In recent years, he has clashed with city council members who view some of his policies as too conservative.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 4:45 p.m. on July 17, 2018, with additional reporting from WPR.