Former State Sen. Mike Ellis dies, Gov. Walker says he had ‘bigger-than-life personality in Wisconsin politics’

Mike Ellis

MADISON — Governor Scott Walker’s office released a statement on Friday, July 20 after learning of the passing of former State Senate President Mike Ellis.

The statement reads as follows:

“Tonette and I are saddened to hear of the passing of Senator Mike Ellis. He was a giant in the Legislature and a bigger-than-life personality in Wisconsin politics. I enjoyed serving with him as a lawmaker and as governor. We were just on the radio together recently and I love his wit and passion. He will be missed by so many of us. Tonette and I send our prayers to his entire family.”

Ellis marked the end of a 44-year legislative career in 2014.

Governor Walker will be ordering flags to half-staff for the day of service. An executive order is forthcoming.

Below are statements from officials and groups on the passing of Ellis on Friday.

State Senator Alberta Darling (R – River Hills):

“I am shocked and saddened by the passing of Mike Ellis. Mike was a legend in state politics. His leadership and decades of service to the people of Wisconsin helped make our state a national leader in reform.

“Mike’s stories were as famous as his political skills. He will be greatly missed.

“My condolences go out to his wife Sandy and his family.”

Chair of Democratic Party of Wisconsin Martha Laning:

“Wisconsin’s legislature has seen many greats, but the passing of Mike Ellis is a terrible loss. He was a passionate advocate and leader for the people of the Fox Valley through and through. Our thoughts and condolences are with Mike’s family, friends and loved ones.”

Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin Brad Courtney:

“Mike was a tireless fighter who spent his career advocating for the Fox Valley. His impact on Wisconsin politics and his passion for our state knew no bounds. I truly enjoyed getting to know him over the years. He will be missed. His entire family is in our prayers.”

Senator Leah Vukmir (R – Brookfield):

“My sympathies and prayers go out to Sen. Ellis’ family during this very sad time. In his time in the Legislature, Mike was a passionate individual who will be remembered for the strength and determination he had for his constituents.”

Congressman Glenn Grothman (R – Glenbeulah):

“It is with great shock and sadness when I found out former State Senator Mike Ellis has left us. We served together for 21 years in the state legislature before both leaving in 2014. He was perhaps the most memorable character of the many legislators I served with. He was always an independent voice in an occupation sorely missing independent voices.”

“He enjoyed recounting the story of a lobbyist showing up to his office with cash for campaign contributions and throwing him out. He enjoyed holding court, be it at the Avenue Bar in Madison or Payne’s Point in Neenah, with his beloved wife Sandy. He also enjoyed talking about his siblings, nieces and nephews and his high school days as a star guard on the Neenah Rockets high school team.”

“He was vibrant until the end and it’s hard to imagine going to Neenah and not being able to see him.”