State Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, will not be running for US Senate in 2018. Kooyenga, a member of the Joint Finance Committee and an influential voice in Madison on budget and tax issues, issued the following statement:

“The US GOP Senate candidates have impressive backgrounds, convictions and ability to serve Wisconsin and our great country. After considerable thought and prayer it is clear I can best serve our Country and principles by fighting for our Republic at the state level, continuing to serve in the US Army Reserves, working in the private sector and most importantly spending time with my wife and four children.”

Kooyenga’s decision leaves Republican Kevin Nicholson the only declared Republican in the race to take on Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison. State Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, is expected to enter the race. Businessman Eric Hovde who ran in 2012 is also a possible candidate, but Hovde closed his 2012 campaign fund earlier this year.

If Vukmir does enter the race as expected, she would not be able to run for re-election to the state senate. Kooyenga would be a heavy favorite to replace Vukmir in the state senate if he chose to run.