Luther Olsen

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Luther S. Olsen
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 14th district
Assumed office
Preceded by Robert T. Welch
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from the 41st district
In office
Preceded by Robert T. Welch
Succeeded by Joan Ballweg
Personal details
Born (1951-02-26) February 26, 1951 (age 67)
Berlin, Wisconsin
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Joan Wade
Residence Ripon, Wisconsin
Alma mater University of Wisconsin–Madison
Profession small business owner

Luther S. Olsen (born February 26, 1951) is a Republican member of the Wisconsin Senate, representing the 14th District since 2004. Olsen was elected to the Senate unopposed in 2004[1] and 2008.[2] He was previously a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1994 through 2004.[3] In August 2011, Olsen faced a recall election, but he defeated the Democratic challenger, Fred Clark, 52 percent to 48 percent.[4]

Early life, education, and early political career[edit]

Olsen was born on February 26, 1951 in Berlin, Wisconsin. In 1969, he graduated from Berlin High School. In 1973, he earned a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In 1976, he was elected to the Berlin School District Board, and was named President of the School Board in 1986. He left the board in 1997.[5]

Wisconsin Legislature[edit]


Before 2011

In Luther's political career prior to 2011, he had never faced a Democratic party opponent.[6] In 1994, he was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly. He won re-election in 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002. In 2004, he was elected the Wisconsin Senate and re-election 2008.

His current Senate district is much more conservative than the state as a whole. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama narrowly won with 52%, while he won statewide with 57%. In the 2010 Wisconsin gubernatorial election, Republican Scott Walker won with 57%, while he won statewide with 53%. In the 2011 Wisconsin judicial election, Republican David Prosser won the district with 55%, while winning statewide with just 50%.[7]

2011 recall election

Olsen was the target of an active recall effort as part of the 2011 Wisconsin protests. On March 2, 2011, the "Committee to Recall Olsen" officially registered with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.[8] On April 18, 2011, organizers filed petitions containing roughly 24,000 signatures to recall Olsen. If more than 14,733 of those signatures are found valid, a recall election will ensue.[9] On April 21, 2011, State Representative Fred Clark (D - Baraboo) announced his candidacy against Olsen in a possible recall election.[10] In late May 2011, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board verified petitions against Olsen, overruling his challenges. The recall election was held on August 9, 2011.[11] Olsen emphasized his pro-education record during his 17-year political career. He defended the $1 billion cut to public education in the 2011 budget as necessary "cuts that needed to be done."[12] Olsen defeated State Rep. Fred Clark with 52% of the vote.[4]


During the 2011 Wisconsin protests regarding Governor Walker's budget repair bill, Olsen described the bill as "pretty radical" and mentioned that he had reservations regarding voting for collective bargaining repeal. Olsen ultimately voted for the bill.[13]

In 2011, One Wisconsin Now filed an ethics complaint against Olsen with the Government Accountability Board. The complaint alleged that Olsen inserted language into a bill in order to financially help his wife. Olsen's wife, Joan Wade, responded to the complaint by calling it 'ridiculous.'[14]

Committee assignments[edit]

Olsen is currently Chairman of the Education Committee. He is also a member of the Finance, Insurance and Housing, and Finance committees.[15]


  1. ^ "Fall General Election – 11/02/2004; State Senate, District No. 14". Wisconsin State Elections Board. December 1, 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 10, 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Fall General Election – 11/04/2008; State Senate, District No. 14". Wisconsin State Elections Board. November 24, 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 20, 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Olsen, Luther S. 1951". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Barbour, Clay and Mary Spicuzza. Republicans hold off Dems in recalls, win enough seats to keep majority in Senate, Wisconsin State Journal, August 10, 2011.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Committee to Recall Olsen". Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. March 9, 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Dems File Recall Petition for 3rd GOP Senator". Milwaukee: WTMJ (AM). (AP). April 18, 2011. Retrieved April 21, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Baraboo state Rep. Clark to challenge Ripon's Luther Olsen in recall". Oshkosh Northwestern. April 21, 2011. 
  11. ^ "GAB Clears Way For 3 GOP Recall Elections". WISC-TV. May 23, 2011. Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Stein, Jason (February 10, 2011). "Walker budget plan would limit state unions to negotiating only on salaries". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved April 21, 2011. 
  14. ^
  15. ^

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