Jennifer Shilling Elected As New Senate Minority Leader

La Crosse Senator Will Represent 14-Member Caucus During Next Legislative Session

Senate Minority Leader-Elect Jennifer Shilling  on Wisconsin Public Television's "Here and Now." Image courtesy of WPT.

Democrats elected Sen. Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse as their new minority leader in the state Senate on Wednesday.

Shilling was first elected to the State Assembly in 2000. She won her Senate seat in 2011, defeating Republican Dan Kapanke in a recall election.

She now replaces outgoing Minority Leader Chris Larson, who announced this week that he was dropping out of the race, and will soon lead a Democratic caucus comprised of 14 members, over half of which are women.

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“We make up 50 percent of our caucus, and that is reflective of Wisconsin as well,” said Shilling.

Shilling did not criticize Larson for his handling of the past election in which Democrats hoped to win three open Seats to win the Senate. They ended up losing all three, leaving Republicans with a 19-to-14 majority.

She did not criticize Republicans, either. She said that her goal right now is to find areas where the parties can work together. She said that she wants to build relationships so that “at the end of the day, we can check our D’s and check our R’s at the door and we can go out and recognize that we are colleagues as well.”

Shilling said there are issues that Democrats will push on their own.

“The voters clearly are on our side when we talk about increasing the minimum wage,” she said. “They’re on our side when it comes to expanding BadgerCare and accepting that federal money.”

Shilling said that it’s premature to talk about how her party could take back the Senate. She said Democrats will meet privately to talk about how to better connect with voters.

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