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2015-16 Legislature: Printable directory | Leadership rosters | New faces

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

 3:15 PM 

Shilling re-elected as minority leader, says Dems need to do 'better job' talking to voters

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, was unanimously re-elected today to her spot.

Shilling, who is facing a recount in her re-election bid for the 32nd SD after holding on to a 56-vote lead, said “now more than ever” Dems need to hold Republican leaders accountable. And, she said, the party needs to “continue to stand up” for middle class families and ensure they’re hearing that message.

“We need to do a better job connecting with voters across Wisconsin who continue to be anxious about our stagnant economy,” Shilling said.

Shilling, like all the other leadership candidates today, was unopposed.

Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, will be the new assistant minority leader. Sen. Dave Hansen, who had been the assistant caucus leader for 16 years, declined to seek another term.

“I do think it’s time for someone else to take that up,” Hansen said. “I’m giving it up. It’s an emotional thing for me, but I appreciate those 16 years that I had.”

Shilling praised him for his “fierce, fierce loyalty” to Democratic causes, such as alleviating student debt and increasing the minimum wage.

Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, will be caucus chair, taking the spot of Sen. Julie Lassa, a Stevens Point Dem who lost her seat to Republican Pat Testin.

And Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, will be the caucus vice chair, taking over Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma.

-- By Polo Rocha

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

 4:29 PM 

Barca re-elected minority leader

Assembly Dems re-elected Peter Barca minority leader following a third straight disappointing election cycle in which their caucus went from 38 members when he took over in 2011 to 35 after last week’s results.

No one else ran for the post, though Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, D-Milwaukee, registered his reservations about Barca continuing in the post for a fourth straight cycle.

Barca was nominated by outgoing Assistant Minority Leader Katrina Shankland. She said the Kenosha Dem will “guide us through probably some of our most difficult times.”

“We need positivity and optimism at a time like this,” Shankland, D-Stevens Point, said. “He’s only spoken good things about each and every one of you. I truly believe he’s the right person to help our state heal.”

After no one else was nominated for the post, Rep. Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee, made a motion for the caucus to unanimously back him. But Brostoff, objected, forcing a formal vote.

“I’m not happy with continuing down the road of establishment over and over again,” he wrote in a text to WisPolitics.com.

Other leadership elections resulted in some changes.

Rep. Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton, was elected assistant minority leader.She replaces Shankland, who did not run for a leadership post. Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, had circulated a letter to colleagues indicating plans to run for the assistant’s spot, but he was not nominated.

Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, was elected caucus chair, replacing Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Milton, who did not seek re-election to the Assembly.

Rep. Steve Doyle, D-Onalaska, was elected caucus vice-chair, replacing Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, who did not run to retain the post.

Rep. Beth Meyer, D-Bayfield, was re-elected caucus secretary.

And Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, was elected sergeant at arms. She replaces Rep. Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee, who did not seek re-election to the post.

 9:43 AM 

Barca expected to be unopposed to retain Assembly minority leader's post

Assembly Dems meet today to pick their leadership team for next session, and signs point to Minority Leader Peter Barca running unopposed to retain his spot.

Barca, D-Kenosha, indicated yesterday he plans to run again, and multiple Dem sources said no one else was aggressively making calls to challenge him. 

Those running for other spots include: 

*Reps. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, and Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton, circulated letters to colleagues indicating their interest in running for assistant minority leader. Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, served in that role this session, but told WisPolitics.com she's not running for a leadership post this time around. 

*Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, informed colleagues he'll run for caucus chair. Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Milton, held the post this session, but he decided against seeking re-election. 

*Rep. Steve Doyle, D-Onalaska, circulated a letter indicating plans to run for caucus vice-chair. Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, has not responded to multiple voice mails left over the last few days. But multiple Dem sources said she was not expected to seek re-election to the post and instead focus on issues in her district. That includes an effort she started this fall to turn out more Hispanic voters. 

*Rep. Beth Meyers, D-Bayfield, circulated a letter to colleagues that she plans to again seek her post as caucus secretary. 

Rep. Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee, served as sergeant at arms this session. But he told WisPolitics.com he won't seek re-election to the post.

Dems have until noon to indicate plans to run for a leadership spot. But they also have the option to run as write-in candidates.

Monday, November 14, 2016

 2:33 PM 

Steineke defeats challenge, will stay on as majority leader

Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, will stay on as Assembly majority leader following a vote today from the caucus.

Steineke beat back a challenge from Rep. Kevin Petersen, R-Waupaca, whom he praised after the vote. The totals for the vote weren’t released.

“It takes some guts to put your name on the ballot,” Steineke said.

Steineke was a frequent critic of Donald Trump and has been outspoken in calling for lawmakers to consider all options, including revenue increases, as they look to solve the state’s transportation funding gap.

Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, nominated Peterson to the spot, saying there’s “never nonsense or hyperbole” with him, with Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon, seconding the nomination.

“He was thoughtful and he reserved his comments for important issues,” Jarchow said. “I thought he was unflappable.”

But Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, nominated Steineke to the post again, and Rep. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, seconded the nomination. Novak, who faced a Dem challenger this fall, said Steineke helped boost his re-election campaign when “things were looking tough.”

“He’s a leader in the building, and he’s a leader outside the building,” Novak said.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, was also re-elected unanimously to another term as speaker. Rep. Rob Brooks, R-Saukville, will be assistant majority leader, and Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, will stay on as speaker pro tempore.

-- By Polo Rocha

 12:19 PM 

Spokeswoman: Barca will run for re-election as Assembly minority leader

Kenosha Dem Peter Barca will run for re-election as Assembly minority leader, a spokeswoman tells WisPolitics.com. 

Dems lost one seat in Tuesday's election and will return next session with 35 members. That prompted a flurry of speculation on whether Barca would run again for the post he's held for the past three sessions. 

The spokeswoman said Barca expected to have a formal announcement later today. Assembly Dems meet tomorrow for leadership elections.

See more in today's PM Update.

 9:47 AM 

Assembly Republicans meeting today for leadership elections

Assembly Republicans meet today to elect leaders for the next session with a contest between Jim Steineke, of Kaukauna, and Kevin Petersen, of Waupaca, for majority leader.

Robin Vos, R-Rochester, is expected to be unopposed in his re-election bid for speaker.

Others who have announced their intentions for the various posts include:

*Assistant majority leader: Rep. Rob Brooks, R-Saukville. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown, now holds the post, but announced plans to run for caucus chair.

*Caucus chair: Besides Knodl, those running for the post include Reps. Bob Kulp, R-Stratford, and Scott Allen, R-Waukesha. Rep. John Murtha, R-Baldwin, held the post this session, but is retiring from the Legislature.

*Assistant caucus chair: Three members are looking to run for the post, which is now held by Rep. Lee Nerison, R-Westby. The three are: Jesse Kremer, of Kewaskum; Romaine Quinn, of Rice Lake; and Tyler Vorpagel, of Plymouth.

*Caucus secretary: Rep. Jessie Rodriguez, R-Oak Creek, wrote to colleagues she plans to run for re-election to the post.

*Sergeant at arms: Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem, is seeking re-election to the post.

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