Senator Herb Kohl is a household name in the state of Wisconsin, and in a year, he’ll be back in the state, as he’ll be finished with his service in Washington D.C. FOX6′s Mike Lowe recently sat down with Kohl in his Washington D.C. office, to discuss what Kohl says is wrong with politics, the issue he’d like to work to change before he leaves D.C., and his plans for the future.
Herb Kohl, at 76 years of age, is a successful businessman, generous philanthropist, owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, and a wildly popular politician. His name has even been floated as a possible contender in a potential recall election against Scott Walker, because of his rare ability to win in Republican areas, and Kohl is not completely closing the door on the idea, but says he doesn’t currently have any plans to run for governor.
Part of Kohl’s appeal is his approachability and accessibility. Even in D.C., he makes it a point to reach out to Wisconsinites, hosting a weekly breakfast, open to any Wisconsin resident who happens to be in D.C.
“They have a place to come, have a cup of coffee, meet our staff, see what a senate office looks like, take a picture, and I’ve found many people say that’s the bright spot of their visit,” Kohl said.
Kohl didn’t start his political career until he was 53, but once he got in, he never looked back. Kohl won four straight elections, each by wider margins than the last. In 2006, he won by more than 37 points, and, as a Democrat, he even won in the state’s Republican stronghold Waukesha.
Kohl has focused his political career on the state of Wisconsin, bringing the power of his office to local projects – like Marinette Marine. His work brought the company a big government order to build combat ships. Kohl also says he’s working hard on the one issue on the minds of constituents everywhere: jobs, and says Congress could have done more to pass Obama’s Jobs Bill.
“If we engage and pass this legislation, we’ll put people back to work or keep them on the job, which is desperately important in this difficult time,” Kohl said.
As for what Kohl believes is wrong with politics, and the issue he’d like to see fixed before he leaves D.C., Kohl says there is too much disagreement among politicians, saying: “it’s hard to move forward when people are calling each other names and refuse to sit down and talk, find a middle ground. It makes it almost impossible for good government to function. People in Wisconsin are sick of it.”
Kohl will step down as senator at the end of next year, and he won’t say the reason for his surprise retirement, only that he enjoys his job, and the good things he can do for the people of Wisconsin.
“When I come to work everyday, I still ask myself, ‘are you enthusiastic about coming to work?’ and the answer is always ‘yes,’” Kohl said.