Republicans Regain Control of Both Houses in the Wisconsin Legislature
By Tom Larson
While Democrats won the top of the ticket races in Wisconsin, winning both the Presidential and U.S. Senate races, Republicans took control of the state legislature by holding their majority in the Assembly and winning two seats that were formerly held by Democrats.
In the State Senate, the Republicans regained control by a 18-15 margin. (Technically, the Republicans currently hold a 17-15 majority that will likely grow to 18-15 after a special election on December 4th in the 33rd Senate District, which is a heavily Republican district covering the Brookfieldarea). Prior to the election, Democrats controlled the Senate by a 17-16 margin after winning two seats during the recall elections in June. In November, the Republicans regained two seats as Tom Tiffany won the 12th Senate District (Northwoods area), which was vacated by Senator Jim Holperin (Conover), and Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac) won the 18th Senate District, which was held by Senator Jessica King (D-Oshkosh), who had won her seat during the recall elections. In the 33rd Senate District, Rep. Paul Farrow defeated Rep. Chris Kapenga in the Republican primary for a seat that was vacated earlier this year by former Sen. Rich Zipperer, who was appointed the deputy chief of staff for Governor Scott Walker in July. Because no Democratic candidate is running in this seat, Farrow’s election to the Senate is considered a mere formality.
The Wisconsin Senate was one of only four houses in state legislatures across the country to flip from Democrat to Republican, with the others being the Alaska Senate, the Arkansas Senate and the Arkansas House.
The new Senate leaders are as follows:
Senate Majority Leader — Scott Fitzgerald (R-Beaver Dam)
President – Mike Ellis (R-Neenah)
Assistant Majority Leader — Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend)
President Pro Termpore – Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan)
Caucus Chair – Frank Lasee (R-De Pere)
Caucus Vice Chair — Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls)
Minority Leader – Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee)
Assistant Minority Leader – Dave Hanson (D-Green Bay)
Caucus Chair – Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point)
Assistant Caucus Chair – Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma)
Sergeant-At-Arms – Nikiya Harris (D-Milwaukee)
The Republicans picked up one seat in the Assembly and they now control the house with a 60-39 margin. Prior to the election, the GOP held a 59-39 majority, with one Independent. Due to new redistricting maps that were drawn favorably for Republicans,the Democrats needed to hold all of their seats and pick off three GOP seats just to keep 39 seats. The Republicans won 3 open/newly redistricted seats (13th Assembly District (Rob Hutton – R-Brookfield), 15th Assembly District (Joe Sanfelippo – R- New Berlin) and the 61st Assembly District (Samantha Kerkman R-Town of Randall) and one seat that was previously held by an Independent (25th Assembly District – Paul Tittl(R-Manitowoc)). On the other hand, Democrats defeated three Republican incumbents (43rd Assembly District – (Andy Jorgensen D-Fort Atkinson), 44th Assembly District – (Debra Kolste D-Janesville) and 75th Assembly District – (Steve Smith D-Rice Lake).
This year, 20 new legislators were elected in the Assembly. When added to the huge freshman class of 2010, approximately 50% of the Assembly was elected during the last two election cycles. This means we will have many new legislators to work with on our legislative agenda during the upcoming legislative session.
The new Assembly leaders are as follows:
Speaker – Robin Vos (R-Burlington)
Majority Leader — Scott Suder (R-Abbottsford)
Speaker Pro Tempore — Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha)
Assistant Majority Leader — Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna)
Caucus Chair – Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan)
Caucus Vice Chair – John Murtha (R-Wisconsin Rapids)
Caucus Secretary – Mary Williams (R-Medford)
Sergeant-At-Arms — Samantha Kerkman (R-Town of Randall)
Minority Leader – Peter Barca (D-Kenosha)
Assistant Minority Leader – Sandy Pasch (D-Milwaukee)
Caucus Chair – Andy Jorgensen (D-Ft. Atkinson)
Caucus Vice Chair – JoCastaZamarripa (D-Milwauke)
Caucus Secretary – Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville)
Caucus Sergeant-At-Arms – Josh Zepnick (D-Milwaukee)
House of Representatives
In the U.S. House, no surprises occurred in 2012; all of the incumbent Wisconsin House members were victorious. In the only open seat (the Madison-area’s 2nd Congressional District), Democrat Mark Pocan, who received NAIOP support, won by a big margin (68-32). As a result, Republicans remain in control of five of the eight congressional seats in Wisconsin.