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Thursday, January 28, 2010

 3:11 PM 

Sheridan denies coup attempt

Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan today shot down rumors that an attempt was underway to depose him as the Dem leader, saying he plans to remain in the position through session's end.

"That's my goal. I can tell you I felt very supported" Sheridan told WisPolitics about today's caucus meeting.

Assembly Dems spent the afternoon in closed caucus as rumors swirled about a possible coup attempt. But several Assembly Dems who emerged from the meeting and spoke with reporters said there was no discussion of changing leaders.

The caucus was closed for about an hour and a half. Sheridan, D-Janesville, said the Dems talked about job creation, but in the last five minutes of the closed session he did address rumors that were circulating. Sheridan then met with reporters one-on-one this afternoon to address the rumors.

Capitol talk circled around the payday lending industry regulation bill that has been stalled in the Assembly for months.

Sheridan said he delegated work on the bill to a handful of legislators, including Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, Rep. Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, and Rep. Jason Fields, D-Milwaukee.

"The issue is very contentious. As you know, they've hired a lot of lobbyists," Sheridan said. "We're going to be coming up with a very strong bill."

Hintz, a main author of the bill, said he's received assurances from Sheridan that the bill will move forward.

"We're getting very close to getting a reform bill done," Hintz said, who has pushed for a rate cap on the industry, a provision that has been one of the sticking points.

Hintz said he isn't aware of an attempt to engineer an ouster of Sheridan and said the speculation may be coming from those who want to derail the bill.

"I can tell you there's an industry out there with a lot of lobbyists who would like to create any distraction they can," Hintz said.

"There's been a lot of buzz about nothing."

Several Assembly Dems who emerged from the meeting and spoke with reporters said there was no discussion in the closed caucus of changing leaders.

Sheridan declined to discuss Capitol chatter about his personal life. Sheridan said he's going through a divorce and "what I do outside this building is not something that I really want to talk about."

"I want to make sure out of respect for my wife and children I'm not talking about this stuff," Sheridan said.

Sheridan said he's focused on his work in the Assembly and hasn't looked into the possibility of running for the Senate seat that will open this fall with the retirement of Sen. Judy Robson.

"I'm very content with the job I have now," he said. "In all likelihood I'm staying where I'm at."

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