La Crosse Senator Jennifer Shilling is the new Democratic minority leader in the Wisconsin state Senate. Shilling, elected to the Senate three years ago after serving in the Assembly, succeeds Chris Larson of Milwaukee, another first term senator who chose not to seek the leadership post.
Republicans now hold 19 seats in the Senate to 14 for Democrats. “We have the right to bring ideas forward, we have the right to debate alternative ideas . . . but I understand that the majority party will prevail at the end of the day,” Shilling said.
Half of the Democrats are now women, with new Senators Janet Bewley and Janice Ringhand succeeding veteran lawmakers Bob Jauch and Tim Cullen. “We make up fifty percent of our caucus, and that is reflective of Wisconsin,” said Shilling.
Shilling hopes to improve the “tone and civility” in the chamber. “I am respectful of this institution, I am respectful of the body that I serve in, and I understand the role that our minority party plays.” Republicans also control the state Assembly, where they have their biggest majority since the late 1950s. The GOP holds a 61-to-36 edge in that chamber with one last race which may yet go to a recount.