Robert Cowles

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Robert Cowles
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 2nd district
Assumed office
April 21, 1987
Preceded by Don Hanaway
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the 6th district
In office
Preceded by Gervase Hephner
Personal details
Born (1950-07-31) July 31, 1950 (age 68)
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Political party Republican
Residence Allouez
Alma mater University of Wisconsin–Green Bay

Robert L. Cowles (born July 31, 1950) is a Republican member of the Wisconsin Senate, representing the 2nd District since 1987. In August 2011, Cowles faced a recall election, but defeated the Democratic challenger, Nancy Nusbaum, 60 percent to 40 percent.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Cowles was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay in 1975. He was formerly a director of an alternative energy division for a communications construction company, but is now a full-time legislator.[2]

Political career[edit]


Cowles was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1982 and re-elected until 1986, when he resigned to run for the state senate.[2] He was first elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in a special election in April 1987.[2] He ran unopposed in 2008.

Cowles supported Walker's budget repair bill, including the section that removed collective bargaining. In July, a businessman alleged that Cowles did not like the bill, but supported it because Walker threatened to run a tea party candidate against him otherwise.[3]

Recall effort[edit]

Cowles was subject to a recall effort as part of the 2011 Wisconsin protests. On March 2, 2011, the "Committee to Recall Cowles" registered with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.[4] On April 28, roughly 26,000 signatures to recall Cowles were filed with the Government Accountability Board. In late May 2011, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board verified petitions against Cowles, overruling his challenges.[5] The recall election was held on August 9, 2011, with Cowles defeating the Democratic challenger, Nancy Nusbaum, 60 percent to 40 percent.[1]

Committee assignments[edit]

Cowles chairs the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Information Technology and sits on the Joint Committee on Audit and the Joint Committee on Finance.

Electoral history[edit]

Wisconsin State Senate District 2 Election 2004[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Robert L. Cowles 60,546 89.13%
Democratic Roy Leyendecker 7,288 10.73%
Other 95 .14%
Wisconsin State Senate District 2 Election 2008[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Robert L. Cowles 60,507 99.35%
Other 393 .65%
Wisconsin State Senate District 2 Recall Election 2011[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Robert L. Cowles 27,543 60.42%
Democratic Nancy Nusbaum 18,039 39.58%


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ a b c Julie Pohlman (ed.) State of Wisconsin 2015-2016 Blue Book. Madison: Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, 2015, p. 22.
  3. ^ Daniel Bice. "Was senator threatened on budget vote?". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. July 10, 2011. Accessed December 3, 2015.
  4. ^ "Committee to Recall Cowles". Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. March 9, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011. 
  5. ^ "GAB certifies recalls for Cowles, Darling and Harsdorf | Ballotnews". 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  6. ^ "Results of Fall General Election - 11/02/2004" (PDF). Wisconsin State Elections Board. December 1, 2004. Retrieved April 20, 2018. 
  7. ^ "Results of Fall General Election - 11/04/2008" (PDF). Wisconsin State Elections Board. November 25, 2008. Retrieved April 20, 2018. 
  8. ^ "August 9 recall election results". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. August 9, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2011. 

External links[edit]