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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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