B.S. in Journalism, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
KEY HEALTH LINK
As State Senate majority leader, Fitzgerald has been a leading voice against expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin and fighting to overturn ACA in the courts.
Wisconsin State Senator, 1995-2020, including serving as State Senate Majority Leader
2020 ELECTION CONTEXT
With the retirement of 21-term incumbent Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the Republican primary was expected to be a hotly contested race in the consistently red district. However, candidates quickly cleared the field for the high-profile Fitzgerald to win the nomination with 77% of the vote.
Jim Sensenbrenner (R), retired
MOST RECENT PROFESSION
Wisconsin State Senator (13th District)
Fitzgerald worked in the newspaper business for nearly ten years, including as an owner. Fitzgerald was appointed Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader by his colleagues in 2011, continuing through the rest of his tenure as a state senator (except for a six-month period in 2012-13 as Minority Leader). In prior sessions, Fitzgerald served as Co-Chairman of the Joint Committee on Finance and Chairman of the Senate Corrections Committee.
Fitzgerald received national attention in the wake of the 2018 Wisconsin state elections, when Democratic candidates were elected to the offices of governor, attorney general and secretary of state. As Wisconsin Senate majority leader, Fitzgerald pushed for legislation during a lame duck session to curb power away from the incoming Democratic administration and shift responsibility to the state legislature.
On The Issues
Fitzgerald supports mask wearing on a voluntary basis, but opposes any sort of mask mandate.
Fitzgerald wants the ACA to be repealed. During a lame duck session following the 2018 election, he authored a bill to prevent incoming Governor Tony Evers from removing Wisconsin from a federal lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act. The responsibility for the lawsuit shifted to the state legislature. Though Fitzgerald has made no motion to support the expansion of Medicaid in Wisconsin, he did not rule out bringing a bill for vote in the Wisconsin Senate during his tenure.
Fitzgerald opposes the legalization of medicinal marijuana and rejected a proposal from GOP colleagues to consider legalization in Wisconsin in 2019.
MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION
In response to mass shootings in 2019, Fitzgerald and Wisconsin state leaders released a package of bills to bolster state mental health services. The bills would make grants available for mental health centers and nonprofits, provide an income tax deduction for psychiatrists who work in Wisconsin and update standards and practices for psychologists. As Senate majority leader in Wisconsin, Fitzgerald was lead author of a bill to increase support for Wisconsin’s addiction treatment alternatives and diversion programs, which passed in May 2017.
While majority leader, Fitzgerald voted to create guidelines for “step therapy,” which allows patients to try less expensive prescription drug options before “stepping up” to drugs that cost more.
VETERANS HEALTH CARE
Fitzgerald maintains a pro-life stance on abortion and supports the overturning of Roe v. Wade. He introduced several bills on abortion access to the Wisconsin state legislature, including the states “partial-birth abortion” ban. He sponsored a state bill in 2020 to commemorate Jan. 22 as “Protect Life Day.”
OTHER HEALTH CARE ISSUES
In January 2019, Fitzgerald and the Wisconsin Assembly overwhelmingly approved a bill that would force health insurers to cover pre-existing conditions if the ACA is repealed nationally.
Fitzgerald received criticism for aggressively blocking a proposal to require health plans to provide identical coverage for chemotherapy drugs taken as pills as for chemotherapy administered through IVs.
DID YOU KNOW?
Before entering politics, Fitzgerald worked for nearly a decade as a newspaper publisher in Wisconsin. Fitzgerald and his spouse own an 80-acre horse farm in Dodge County. His nickname in politics is “Big Fitz.”