|Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 12th district
January 3, 2009 – January 7, 2013
|Preceded by||Roger Breske|
|Succeeded by||Tim Tiffany|
|Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from the 34th district|
|Preceded by||Lloyd Kincaid/Sheehan Donoghue|
|Succeeded by||Joe Handrick|
December 18, 1950 |
Eagle River, Wisconsin
|Alma mater||University of Wisconsin, Whitewater|
Holperin served as a member of the Wisconsin State Senate, representing the 12th District in northern Wisconsin from 2009 to 2013. Previously, he was Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism from 2003 to 2007 and a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, serving the 34th District from 1982 through 1994. He is the only state legislator in history to face a recall twice — in April 1990 for supporting Native American treaty rights, and in August 2011 as a backlash against Democratic efforts to thwart Governor Scott Walker's attempt to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights. Holperin retained his seat both times.
Early life, education, and early career
Holperin was born in Eagle River, Wisconsin, on December 18, 1950, and grew up there. In 1969, he graduated from Eagle River High School. In 1973, he earned a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He also served for nine years as the director of Trees For Tomorrow, a natural resources specialty school focused primarily on conservation education for young people.
In 1982, he successfully ran for the 46th District seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly representing Oneida and Vilas Counties. He served on the budget committee and the Joint Committee on Finance. After redistricting based on the 1980 Census, Holperin's district was re-designated as the 34th. In 1990, Holperin faced a recall effort due to his support for Native American treaty rights. At the center of the dispute was the controversy over the treaties between the federal government and the Chippewa tribe, in which the tribe ceded vast lands in northern Wisconsin in exchange for spearfishing, hunting, and timber harvesting rights. Holperin won the recall election handily, winning 61% of the vote. He retired in 1994. He was succeeded by Republican Joe Handrick.
In 2003, Governor Jim Doyle appointed him as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. In 2008, he ran to become a State Senator when incumbent Democrat Wisconsin State Senator Roger Breske decided to retire after four-plus terms (1990–2008). He defeated Republican nominee Tim Tiffany with 51% of the vote.
2011 Union protests
During the 2011 protests in Wisconsin, Holperin, along with the 13 other Democratic State Senators, left the state on February 17 to deny the State Senate a quorum on Governor Scott Walker's controversial budget repair bill. On March 9, Republicans in the State Senate declared that they had removed all fiscal provisions from the fiscal repair bill and passed it without needing a quorum. On March 12, Holperin and the rest of the Democratic Senators returned to Wisconsin.
2011 attempted recall
Holperin was one of three Democratic state senators facing recall as a result of the 2011 Wisconsin protests. On February 22, 2011, the "Jim Holperin Recall Committee" officially registered with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. 15,960 valid signatures of electors residing within the 12th District were required by April 25, 2011 to generate a recall election.
On March 10, 2011, supporters of the recall effort against Holperin complained of intimidation by his supporters. On April 21, 2011, Holperin recall supporters filed about 23,300 signatures on recall petitions.
Holperin and Kim Simac faced off in the general recall election on August 16, 2011. Holperin won, keeping his seat.
In March 2012, with his district having been drastically revised by the Republican-controlled legislature, Holperin announced he would not seek re-election in 2012. He was succeeded in the new 12th District by Republican Tom Tiffany.
- ,Wisconsin Blue Book 2011-2012, Biography Sketch of Jim Holperin, pg. 42
- "Senator Jim Holperin (WI)". Project Vote Smart. 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
- Millard, Pete (November 16, 2003). "Promoting 'up north' -- and more". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
- "About Us". Trees For Tomorrow. 2003. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
- Th Milwaukee Journal April 4, 1990.
- "Jim Holperin Recall Committee". Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. March 9, 2011. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
- Rietz, Kristin (March 10, 2011). "Confrontation at Merrill rally to recall Holperin". WAOW. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- Tolan, Tom (April 21, 2011). "Recall petitions filed against 4 lawmakers". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
- State Senator Jim Holperin Will Not Seek Reelection