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Republican critic of election probe retiring from Senate

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin state senator who has been one of the only Republican critics of the GOP-ordered investigation into the 2020 election announced Friday that she will not be seeking reelection.

State Sen. Kathy Bernier, who is also chair of the Senate’s elections committee, announced her retirement after spending 12 years in the Legislature after a 13-year career as a county elections clerk.

Bernier, of Chippewa Falls, has been a sharp critic of the election investigation being led by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Gableman, in turn, has called on her to resign.

“The choice to retire was a difficult one to make, but I have been contemplating this decision for some time now and I decided ‘now is the time,’” the 65-year-old Bernier said in a statement. “As I go, I want to make it perfectly clear that no one has forced me out and politics has not played a role in my decision.”

Bernier last month called Gableman’s review a “charade” designed to appease the GOP’s conservative base and said questioning the integrity of elections will ultimately hurt turnout for Republicans.

“I understand there is frustration when you have a president saying there is massive voter fraud,” Bernier said. “We have a great system here and no one should falsely accuse election officials of cheating.”

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