Meet the new legislative leaders in Madison

All right, only two of the four men who will lead their parties in Wisconsin’s Legislature are technically new. All four have served in the Legislature since at least 2010.

A quick look at each leader:

Scott Fitzgerald, Senate majority leader:
Fitzgerald, a Republican from Juneau who has served in the Senate since 2008, led Republicans last session. Along with his brother, Jeff Fitzgerald, and Gov. Scott Walker, Scott Fitzgerald helped steer the budget repair bill aimed at unions’ collective bargaining authority to passage. The visible role earned him a recall election, but Fitzgerald easily held on to his seat against political newcomer Lori Compas this June.

Chris Larson, Senate minority leader:
Larson, a Democrat from Milwaukee, was elected to the Senate in 2010. The seat was his first on the state level after serving on the Milwaukee County Board for two years. A Wisconsin native, Larson was particularly outspoken (usually on social media) during the battle over collective bargaining.

Larson defeated John Erpenbach of Middleton for the post, in a bit of a surprise. Republicans thought it was a pleasant one. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s account, lawmakers thought it was a joke.

Robin Vos, Assembly speaker:
Vos, a Republican from Rochester, takes on the Speaker role from departing Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald, who unsuccessfully ran for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination. But Vos’ role as co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance Committee put him in the spotlight during the budget repair bill debate and through much of the last legislative session. Vos was first elected in 2004.

Peter Barca, Assembly minority leader:
Barca, a Democrat from Kenosha, returned to state politics in 2009 and acted as minority leader last session. Barca served in the Assembly from 1985 until 1993. He’s perhaps best known nationally as the representative shouting as Republicans passed the budget repair bill to the floor in March of 2011.

Barca defeated Brett Hulsey of Madison for the post.

About Kathleen Foody

Investigative reporter for Gannett Wisconsin Media, based in Wausau. Follow me on Twitter @katie_foody, Facebook or e-mail at
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