Former State Senate President Mike Ellis passes away

MADISON (WKOW) — Top Republicans in the state are remembering a long time leader after the announcement of the passing of Former Senate President Michael G. Ellis. He spent more than 40 years dedicated to Wisconsin politics and died early Friday morning. Ellis, a republican, retired in 2014 after 32 years representing the Neenah in the State Senate.

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

“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 served as President of the Senate from 2011-2015. Current Senate President Roger Roth (R—Appleton) issued the following statement regarding the announcement:

“I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Michael G. Ellis. Mike was a dedicated public servant, a highly-respected colleague, and a good friend. He was a tremendous mentor to me and I knew I could look to him for guidance on any issue. His breadth of knowledge and experience always kept him two steps ahead of everyone.

“I will miss most the ability to pick up the phone to talk to him – to discuss a state issue or just to talk about what’s happening in the district. I will always appreciate the time we shared and the sound advice I received from him.

“Someone once told me that Mike Ellis wasn’t just the leader of the Senate, he was the Senate. No matter what was happening in the Capitol, Mike knew about it and was already working it out. He has left a lasting impression on this state because of his strong personality and dedication to public service.

“He was the epitome of putting his district first and politics second. He had no problem challenging his caucus and reaching across the aisle to fight for his constituents, with most conversations ending with a laugh.”

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he learned a tremendous amount from Ellis ever since he met him in 1994.

“Everything I learned about leadership and politics I learned from Senator Ellis. He had already accomplished an incredible amount when I first met him in 1994, and I will always be appreciative of the time I got to serve with him," said Fitzgerald.

"Mike’s personality and character were only outmatched by his dedication to public service. He ferociously fought for his constituents and his district, even when it meant challenging his own caucus or negotiating a deal that seemed impossible to reach."

"He championed causes throughout his life and career that have left a lasting impression on this state and truly made Wisconsin a better place to raise a family. And I know that was important to Mike, being a family man first and a legislator second. Mike was a friend and mentor to me, and he will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with Sandy and the Ellis family during this difficult time.”

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