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The Other Slighted JFC Member Holds His Tantrum

It’s too early to say if it is good or bad, but one thing you can tell early on in the minor­ity lead­er­ship of Mil­wau­kee Demo­c­rat Chris Lar­son is that senior­ity means noth­ing to him.

That’s under­stand­able on one level, Lar­son him­self has only been a state sen­a­tor for two years before his ele­va­tion to lead­er­ship.  But on the other, it is utterly dis­re­spect­ful to many of the more sea­soned mem­bers of his cau­cus.  Already, he’s upset Lena Tay­lor for auc­tion­ing off her spot on the pow­er­ful Joint Finance Com­mit­tee (she was co-chair prior to the Democ­rats los­ing the cham­ber) to Robert Wirch.

Today, the other long-time mem­ber Democ­rats have had on the JFC — and along with Tay­lor, the other Demo­c­rat on the com­mit­tee from 2011 to mid-2012 — Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, had his pub­lic hissy fit. 

Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) said he didn’t attend Tuesday’s pri­vate meet­ing of Sen­ate Democ­rats because he found it dif­fi­cult to trust Sen­ate Minor­ity Leader Chris Lar­son (D-Milwaukee).

Also miss­ing Tuesday’s meet­ing were Sens. Jon Erpen­bach (D-Middleton) and Lena Tay­lor (D-Milwaukee). The three were the biggest losers in the lead­er­ship fight in Novem­ber.

Erpen­bach lost by one vote in the race for minor­ity leader. Once elected, Lar­son did not reap­point Jauch and Tay­lor to the pow­er­ful Joint Finance Com­mit­tee, instead replac­ing them with Sens. Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha) and Jen Shilling (D-La Crosse).

Erpenbach’s back­ers con­tend Wirch said before the vote he would back Erpen­bach but ulti­mately voted for Lar­son in hopes of secur­ing a seat on the finance com­mit­tee. Wirch has declined to say whom he backed.

When (Lar­son) decided to barter one of the two Finance posi­tions for his own, I decided I’m going to serve my dis­trict — I don’t serve him,” Jauch said of his deci­sion to miss Tuesday’s meet­ing. “When you decide to put your­self and a title ahead of the best inter­ests of the cau­cus, I think it says more about him than me.”

I’m still as strong a Demo­c­rat,” he added. “I don’t think I’ve changed. The Sen­ate has changed. I don’t like it.”

Again, as cau­cus leader, Lar­son is enti­tled to have whomever he wants on the Joint Finance Com­mit­tee, but he might be hurt­ing him­self in both the long and short-term.  By pretty much indi­cat­ing com­mit­tee assign­ments are up for sale to the high­est bid­der, Lar­son is show­ing that he can’t be trusted (I know, hard to imag­ine with him.) and that his word is only as good as the moment he gives it to you.

Trust is every­thing, espe­cially inside a cau­cus.  If Lar­son doesn’t have it now, what’s to guar­an­tee it in the future?

Sec­ondly, Jauch is up for re-election in 2014.  Such state­ments as “The Sen­ate has changed. I don’t like it.” tend to lead one to think he’s look­ing for the exits.  The 25th state Sen­ate dis­trict may be reli­ably Democratic-leaning, but he was barely re-elected in the 2010 wave; win­ning by only 51.3 per­cent of the vote.

If Democ­rats are hop­ing to have a chance of tak­ing back the state Sen­ate in 2014, they can’t risk play­ing defense in too many seats.  With the GOP pos­si­bly defend­ing the 1st, 5th, 17th, 23rd and 29th, Democ­rats can’t risk to be defend­ing any other seats besides the likely loss in the 21st.

Larson’s early intra-caucus games make it look like he’s on clear col­li­sion course ensur­ing he fails at tra­di­tional No. 1 job as minor­ity leader — re-elect and build upon party num­bers, so who am I to stop him?   It is his party after all, and if he wants to make sure it is filled with only Walker haters from Madi­son and Mil­wau­kee, that’s his choice.

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