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Milwaukee County Executive Abele won’t seek re-election in 2020

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in April.

Abele’s announcement comes after he had signaled his intention to run for a third full term in office last spring. He was running for his seat unopposed.

In a statement, Abele said his decision not to run for the seat comes amid changes in his personal life. Abele recently married Jennifer Gonda, who had previously served in various roles in the city of Milwaukee, including as its top lobbyist and head of the Milwaukee Water Works.

“This commitment required significant sacrifice, which I was honored and humbled to take on,” he said. “Now – alongside my three incredibly dynamic daughters and a new marriage with a strong woman who brings life and love into every room she walks into – it is time to write our next chapter together.”

Abele was first elected in 2011 in a special election to replace Scott Walker, who left the county executive’s office to take over as governor. He won reelection to the seat in 2012 and 2016.

Abele is the son of John Abele, the billionaire founder of the medical-device manufacturer Boston Scientific. A graduate of Lawrence University in Appleton, he ultimately settled in Milwaukee and developed a reputation for being a philanthropist. After first winning election to the county executive’s seat in 2011, he spent $4 million of his personal fortune in 2016 to win against State Sen. Chris Larson, a Democrat, who ran to Abele’s left.

It wasn’t immediately clear who would run to replace Abele on Thursday, although a number of local leaders said they were exploring a run. Candidates must file nomination papers by Jan. 7, and a primary election is scheduled for Feb. 18. The general election is scheduled for April 7.

About Nate Beck, nbeck@dailyreporter.com

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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