The case of Sen. Chris Larson is getting a lot of attention lately and rightly so. He’s skyrocketing up the Democratic power structure.
A few weeks ago Chris worked the magic that is political maneuvering and was voted in as Senate Minority Leader by eight of the fifteen Wisconsin senate Dems. The buzz is that Kenosha’s Bob Wirch changed his vote to Larson after committing his support to Jon Erpenbach, for a seat on the Joint Finance Committee. Not sure is that’s true, but low and behold with the election of Larson, Wirch has achieved his wish.
The move by Larson is interesting on a bunch of angles. One that has seemed to fly under the radar is the race for Governor in 2014. Sen. Jon Erpenbach had been mentioned as a potential candidate on the Democratic side of the coin. His defeat by Larson for the Senate leadership sure has punctured a hole in that dream. If one can’t win the support of the majority of your senate colleagues, how will he fare in a statewide battle? It will be great to see the charge to the TV camera’s between Larson & Erpenbach as they race to out whine each other in the coming legislative session. Now throw in a bit of Sen. Lena Taylor and it should be a heck of a fun time.
A second aspect of the Larson move is the power structure of the Democratic Party in Milwaukee. There are two aspects I’d like to bring up here. The first is the obvious black vs. white issue. It’s an interesting development in that some on the right are jumping on the bandwagon of the Chris Larsonhates the black community. In the black community itself there is a concern that without a representative on the JFC Milwaukee will get the shaft when it comes to funding. Current co-chair Sen. Lena Taylor was replaced by the vote switching Wirch.
Taylor is not a happy camper and her reaction to this will be a great watch. She has the respect of the black community and without a seat on the powerful JFC her voice and power will diminished quite a bit. Larson’s move to replace Taylor also hurts her future aspirations to move up the political ladder. Rep. Tamara Grigsby also had a seat on the JFC in the last session, but she is hanging up her assembly shoes after a serious illness.
The Democratic status quo in the black community is standing up behind Taylor; the new progressive arm of the party is standing behind Larson.
This is reminiscent of the fall primary battles in Milwaukee. The Chris Larson/Fred Kessler wing of the Milwaukee Dems with the support of the unions moved the city’s state representation the far left. They replaced some state legislators who were willing to work the Republican controlled legislature to get things done for the city. This was a sin in the eyes of the new progressives and they were replaced. It will be interesting to see how these newly elected officials will get anything done and fulfill their campaign promises to their constituents. They will have no power in the minority and with their extreme views will have less then willing ears to hear their concerns.
One of the concerns of the black community is if the Larson/Kessler wing (white liberals) of party will continue to pick the black representation in Milwaukee. That includes state, county and city governments. It’s an intriguing concern for the black community whose church base is socially conservative yet succumbing to the socially liberal branch of the Democratic Party in recent years with nothing to show for it.
There is also a transfer of power from the north side of Milwaukee to the south side. Chris Larson’s senate district covers the east side of Milwaukee down to Bay View,Cudahy and Oak Creek. On the county level Board Chair Marina Dimitrijevic serves an area that covers the near south side and not coincidentally Bay View. In the city the north side still holds the power but rumors that Mayor Barrett will bail for a gig with the Obama administration and Willie Hines moving on up, it will be a battle for the head of the City Council.
With the state elections slated to start in about six months it will still be an exciting time for us political junkies. Who will come out ahead in the Dem vs. Dem battle? Will the Republicans sit on the sidelines or will they make a move into the black community to grow their party? I'm hearing rumors already about aldermanic and county board seat battles brewing.
Who’ll come out smelling like a rose and who’ll come out just smelling? I along with many other bloggers will be watching this closely and often.