Chris Larson

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Chris Larson
Chris Larson.JPG
Wisconsin State Senate District 7
In office
2011 - Present
Term ends
January 6, 2019
Years in position 4
Minority Leader, Wisconsin State Senate
Base salary$49,943/year
Per diem$88/day
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First elected2010
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2007
Date of birth11/12/1980
Place of birthMilwaukee County, WI
ProfessionManager, Sporting Goods Store
Office website
Campaign website
Chris Larson is a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Senate, representing District 7. He was first elected to the chamber in 2010. Larson served as Senate Minority Leader from 2013 to 2015.[1]


Larson is a lifelong Wisconsinite. He earned a B.A. in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and managed a sporting goods store before being elected Milwaukee County Supervisor in 2008, a position he held until his election to the senate.

Committee assignments

2015 legislative session

At the beginning of the 2015 legislative session, Larson served on the following committees:

Wisconsin Committee Assignments, 2015
Labor and Government Reform
Workforce Development, Public Works, and Military Affairs


At the beginning of the 2013 legislative session, Larson served on the following committees:


In the 2011-2012 legislative session, Larson served on the following committees:


Campaign themes


Larson's campaign website highlighted the following issues:Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

Providing a Quality Education for All

  • Excerpt: "Investing in our neighborhood, public schools because they are the cornerstones of our community, producing a strong Wisconsin workforce for tomorrow. This means fully funding our local, public schools before putting another public dollar in the voucher system, which remains unaccountable to Wisconsin families and their children."

Creating Good-Paying Jobs

  • Excerpt: "Employees across Wisconsin go to work everyday, and work hard to create profits for area businesses. Wisconsin’s profit creators deserve their fair share of these profits, which includes a fair wage that doesn’t require them to live in poverty while working full-time. Raising Wisconsin’s minimum wage and ensuring Wisconsin’s women receive equal pay for equal work will lift up all communities and Wisconsin families, while also spurring economic growth and reducing the need for public assistance."

Protecting Our Lands and Waters

  • Excerpt: "Defend Wisconsin’s stewardship tradition and our tourism industry by protecting the rivers, lakes, forests and prairies we all enjoy each year. Let’s ensure we protect this Wisconsin for current and future generations."

Increasing Higher Education Affordability

  • Excerpt: "Support Wisconsin’s many exemplary institutions of higher education and their efforts to invest in our next generation of profit creators. We must also reduce the debt burden most students acquire when making the decision to invest in their future, as well as the future of our community."

Investing in Our Infrastructure

  • Excerpt: "Make smart investments in Wisconsin’s roads, bridges, public transit infrastructure and community spaces that make the Milwaukee area a great place to live, work and raise a family."

Increasing Access to Health Care

  • Excerpt: "We have a moral obligation to our neighbors and community to increase access to affordable health care for everyone. To reach this goal, we need to invest in Wisconsin’s health care options for children, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and families. We also need to safeguard our mutual health care rights, including our constitutional right to privacy and the freedom to make decisions related to our own bodies."

Environmental issues

Larson supports legislative efforts to create "green jobs" at the state and local level. He also has worked to create a source of permanent funding for parks and trails without resorting to raising usage fees at public recreation centers such as golf courses and marinas.

He is also involved in efforts to eradicate invasive, non-native species from Wisconsin parks and wilderness areas.

Legislative walkout

Larson and the 13 other Democratic senators participated in a legislative walkout on February 17, 2011, in opposition to Assembly Bill 11 - a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at limiting collective bargaining rights, compensation and fringe benefits of public employees.[2] The Democratic departure left the Senate one vote shy of a quorum. Reports confirmed the senators fled to a hotel in Rockford, Illinois.[3] State police were dispatched by Governor Scott Walker (R) to retrieve the senators, but were unable to cross state lines.[4] The 14 state senators who left the state are being described as the "Badger 14" or "Fab 14."[5][6]

On February 22, speaking from the basement of an Illinois hotel, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller provided the minority response to Gov. Scott Walker, saying, "The governor has the tools at his disposal to put this issue to an end. As soon as he is willing to take a compromise, we will go back to work in an instant." Miller stated that the legislators payed for the trip themselves, and that no taxpayer money was spent.[7]

Walker called on the Democratic senators to return to the state by March 1 in order to vote to restructure the state's debt. If they did not, he stated he may have to start cutting state jobs, saying:
It’s not just a number, it’s not just a budget, it’s ultimately a real person with a real family, so I’m going to push that back as far as I can. We’ve got to have real numbers to balance the budget to avoid layoffs. My hope is those 14 state senators … realize that in the end, it’s much better off to avoid those cuts, it’s much better off to avoid the most dire consequences that will come if we don’t pass this bill.[8]
The Democratic senators said they would not return until the governor was willing to compromise on the budget-repair bill.

Democrats threatened with arrest

Republicans passed a unanimous resolution on March 3 finding the missing legislators in contempt and threatening them with arrest. It gave them until 4 p.m. to return or the sergeant-at-arms was ordered to take "any and all necessary steps, with or without force, and with or without the assistance of law enforcement, by warrant or other legal process, as he may deem necessary in order to bring that senator to the Senate chambers."[9]

The constitutionality of that resolution was unclear, however, as the Wisconsin Constitution only allows for the arrest of legislators while in session if they are suspected of committing a felony, treason, or breach of the peace. Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, said the resolution was an "unreasonable abuse of police power."[10]

Sen. Jon Erpenbach provided the Democratic response, stating, "All 14 of us remain in Illinois, very strong in our convictions. Issuing arrest warrants at 4 p.m. isn't going to solve the problem. This is a debate about protection of the middle class in Wisconsin; that is what the Republicans should be focusing on."[9]

The move by Republicans came the day after they issued fines of $100 a day for not showing up at the Capitol, along with taking away parking spaces.[11] The week before Republicans also passed a rule suspending direct-deposit of paychecks. Sen. Erpenbach found a way around this by granting power of attorney to two of his aides, giving them power to, among other things, pick up his paycheck. In the end Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald mailed the check to Erpenbach.[12]

Meeting/possible compromises

On March 7, Democratic leader Sen. Mark Miller sent a letter to the governor and senate majority leader asking for a meeting near the Wisconsin-Illinois border to restart talks on the collective bargaining issue.[13] Gov. Walker responded at a press conference, calling the letter "ridiculous," and saying that several meetings between the two sides have taken place, but that Miller has stood in the way of a compromise.[14]

Sen. Chris Larson said, "Dems will return when collective bargaining is off the table. That could be soon based on the growing public opposition to the bill and the recall efforts against Republicans."[15]

On March 8, the Governor's office released an email exchange dated March 6 between Eric Schutt, Walker's deputy chief of staff, and Democratic Senators Cullen and Jauch. The exchange discusses possible compromises on the bill, including allowing unions to bargain for wages beyond inflation rates, permitting collective-bargaining on certain economic issues, allowing public workers to collectively bargain workplace safety issues, and limiting collective bargaining agreements to 2 years or less.[16]

Republicans pass bill

Seal of Wisconsin.svg.png
2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

In a surprise maneuver, Senate Republicans on March 9 passed controversial reforms to the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. In a process that took just over two hours, Republicans passed the bill by a vote of 18-1, with Sen. Dale Schultz (R) casting the only no vote.[17]

Republicans skirted the need for a quorum by removing the sections of the bill that had to do with appropriating funds. With these removed, the bill only needed to be passed by a simple majority -- rather than requiring a quorum of 20 senators. At 4 p.m. on March 9 a conference committee on the budget-repair bill was convened. Two hours later the committee met and advanced the new measure without debate. Immediately following that, the Senate met and passed the new version, also without debate. It was then sent to the Assembly.[18]

The only Democrat present at the meeting, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D), attempted to stop the proceedings, stating that the committee was in violation of the state's open meeting law. According to the law, most public bodies are required to give 24 hours notice before a meeting. The two hours notice that the committee provided led Barca to declare, "Mr. Chairman, this is a violation of law! This is not just a rule — this is the law."[17] Ignoring Barca, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) ordered the vote taken as shouts of protest rang from the galleries.

The bill was given a stay by Dane County Court Judge Maryann Sumi. On May 26, 2011, Sumi struck down the legislative actions leading to the bill eliminating public employee collective bargaining on the grounds that it violated the state's Open Meetings Law. The state Departments of Justice and Department of Administration appealed the decision to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.[19][20] On June 14 the Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled the district court decision, stating it "exceeded its jurisdiction, invaded the legislature’s constitutional powers...and erred in enjoining the publication and further implementation of the act."[21]

Recall campaigns

In the wake of events surrounding the bill, both Democratic and Republican senators were targeted by active recall campaigns. Recall sponsors filed signatures on petitions targeting 6 Republican state senators and 3 Democratic state senators. Challenges were filed in all 9 of those campaigns, and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board approved the six campaigns against Republicans at meetings on May 23 and May 31, and approved the three campaigns against Democrats on June 8. Democrats held onto the 30th District seat on July 19. Republicans lost two seats in the August 9 recalls, but held onto four. Two incumbent Democrats successfully retained their seats on August 16.



See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2014

Elections for 17 seats in the Wisconsin State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on August 12, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was June 2, 2014. Incumbent Chris Larson ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, while Red Arnold ran unopposed in the Republican primary. Larson defeated Arnold in the general election.[22][23][24]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 7 General Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngChris Larson Incumbent 59.6% 41,950
     Republican Red Arnold 40.4% 28,387
Total Votes 70,337


See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2010

Larson defeated incumbent Democrat Jeffrey Plale in the September 14 primary. He defeated Republican Jess Ripp in the November 2 general election.[25]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 7 (2010) General Election
Candidates Votes Percent
Green check mark transparent.png Chris Larson (D) 37,165 57.11%
Jess Ripp (R) 27,772 42.68%


District 7 was heavily Democratic, and a primary win was tantamount to a November victory. Larson secured a substantial primary victory, perhaps by positioning himself to the left of the incumbent.

Across the country in 2010, state senate elections were held in 43 states. 1,167 state senate seats were at stake. In all 1,167 state senate districts with an election in 2010, only 19 challengers (12 Democrats and 7 Republicans) defeated an incumbent state senator. Larson was one of the 12 Democratic challengers who defeated an incumbent Democratic state senator.[26]

Wisconsin Senate, District 7 Democratic Primary (2010)
Candidates Votes Percent
Green check mark transparent.png Chris Larson (D) 7,962 60.61%
Jeff Plale (D) (incumbent) 5,148 39.19 %

Larson's upset caused Wisconsin's political pundits to get a head start on forecasting what it might mean for the state's next legislative session to have Larson sitting the seat once held by Plale:

"And if you think what happens in South Milwaukee doesn’t mean much up in the north, consider the fact that the palace coup that left Senator Russ Decker as Senate Majority Leader was a one-vote deal, which is exactly what Senator Plale had to contribute. Look for possible repercussions come January."[27]

Plale worked closely with Wisconsin's Democratic leader of the Senate, Russ Decker. Decker won the Senate leadership by a single vote three years ago and the loss of Plale as an ally could cost him that position when the legislature reconvenes, assuming Democrats retain majority status.

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Larson is available dating back to 2010. Based on available campaign finance records, Larson raised a total of $202,804 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 31, 2013.[28]

Chris Larson's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Wisconsin State Senate, District 7 Not up for election $99,027
2010 Wisconsin State Senate, District 7 Won $103,777
Grand Total Raised $202,804


Larson was not up for election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2012. During that election cycle, Larson raised a total of $99,027.
Wisconsin State Senate 2012 election - Campaign Contributions
Top contributors to Chris Larson's campaign in 2012
Northwestern Mutual Life$1,000
Duncan, Raymond$1,000
Sheet Metal Workers International Association$1,000
Gardner, Charles$667
Forest County Potawatomi$500
Total Raised in 2012$99,027
Source: Follow the Money


Larson won election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2010. During that election cycle, Larson raised a total of $103,777.



In 2014, Larson's endorsements included the following:[29]

  • Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
  • Clean Wisconsin Action Fund
  • AFSCME People
  • People for the American Way (PFAW)
  • Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin (PFFW)
  • Sierra Club
  • UWA Region 4 CAP Council
  • Fair Wisconsin PAC


In 2010, Larson’s endorsements included the following:[30]

  • Amalgamated Transit Union 998,

MCTS Drivers & Employees

  • Wisconsin Federation of Nurses &

Health Professionals

  • American Federation of Teachers

Local 212, MATC Faculty & Staff

  • Teaching Assistants' Association,

UW-Madison Graduate Employees

  • Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
  • Clean Wisconsin Action Fund
  • County Supervisor Gerry Broderick
  • County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic
  • Milwaukee Alderman Nik Kovac
  • Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman

  • Equality Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans
  • Sierra Club
  • United Auto Workers
  • Wisconsin Gazette
  • Wisconsin Citizen Action
  • Voces de la Frontera Action
  • United Transportation Union
  • FAIR Wisconsin
  • Communication Workers of America
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Wisconsin Social Workers PAC
  • AFSCME District Council 48
  • Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC)
  • Plumbers Union Local 75


Larson and his wife, Jessica, live in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood.


See also: State legislative scorecards and State legislative scorecards in Wisconsin

Legislative scorecards are used to evaluate elected public officials based on voting record. Some scorecards are created by political advocacy groups with a focus on specific issues, while others are developed by newspapers and are broad in scope. Scorecards are meant to be used as a tool for voters to have a quick picture of whether their views align with a particular legislator's record.

Because scorecards can be specific to particular issues or general to a state’s legislative term, for example, each report should be considered on its own merits. Each entity that publishes these reports uses different methodologies and definitions for the terms used.

An overview for scorecards in all 50 states can be found on this page. To contribute to the list of Wisconsin scorecards, email suggestions to

Please see our writing guidelines if you would like to add results from an individual scorecard to this legislator's profile.


In 2014, the Wisconsin State Legislature was in session from January 14 through June 4.

Legislators are scored on their stances on voting, money in politics and democracy reform legislation.
Legislators are scored on "how well [their votes] represented the priorities of the MMAC."
Legislators are scored on whether they voted for or against NPCW's position.
Legislators are scored on whether they voted for or against the Wisconsin AFL-CIO's position.
Legislators are scored on their stances on conservation issues.
Legislators are scored on their votes on legislation WMC deemed as "most important issues for the business community."
Legislators are scored on their votes on legislation that "impact Wisconsin's law enforcement community."
Legislators are scored on their votes on environmental bills.


In 2012, the Wisconsin State Legislature was in session from January 10 through March 16.

Legislators are scored on "how well [their votes] represented the priorities of the MMAC."
Legislators are scored on whether they voted for or against the Wisconsin AFL-CIO's position.
Legislators are scored on their stances on conservation issues.
Legislators are scored on their votes on legislation WMC deemed as "most important issues for the business community."
Legislators are scored on their votes on legislation that "impact Wisconsin's law enforcement community."
Legislators are scored on their votes on environmental bills.

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See also

External links

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  1. Wisconsin State Legislature, "2013 Senate Resolution 1," January 7, 2013
  2., "ASSEMBLY BILL 11," accessed 17 Feb. 2011
  3. Green Bay Press Gazette, "Wisconsin Democrats flee to Clock Tower Hotel in Rockford, Ill., to block anti-union bill," 17 Feb. 2011
  4. Bloomberg Businessweek, "Senator: Missing Wis. lawmakers left the state," 17 Feb. 2011
  5. The Badger 14, "VIDEO: Dr. Charles Murray at Harvard, on “Coming Apart"," March 17, 2014
  6. Facebook, "Fab 14," accessed May 5, 2014
  7. WISN, "State Sen. Minority Leader Responds to Walker," February 22, 2010
  8. Christian Science Monitor, "Wisconsin governor to missing senators: Come back or I'll lay off 1,500," February 28, 2011
  9. 9.0 9.1 Wall Street Journal, "Pressure Mounts on Absent Democrats in Wisconsin, Indiana," March 3, 2011
  10. Wisconsin State Journal, "Senate orders arrest of missing Democrats," March 3, 2011
  11. My Fox Chicago, "Wisconsin GOP Slaps Missing Dems With $100 Daily Fines," March 2, 2011 (dead link)
  12. Talking Points Memo, "AWOL Wisconsin Dem Beats The System, Gets His Paycheck Mailed To Him," March 3, 2011
  13. New York Times, "Wisconsin Democrats Urge New Talks on Labor Bill," March 7, 2011
  14. CNN, "Wisconsin gov: Democratic senator's border meeting idea 'ridiculous'," March 7, 2011
  15. Talking Points Memo, "Wisconsin Dems Deny WSJ Report Of Imminent Return," March 6, 2011
  16. CNN, "E-mails: Wisconsin governor offers concessions on budget bill," March 8, 2011
  17. 17.0 17.1 Miami-Herald, "Wisconsin Republicans bypass Democrats on union bill," March 9, 2011 (dead link)
  18. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Senate advances collective bargaining changes; Democrats to return after Assembly vote," March 9, 2011
  19. Wisconsin State Journal, "Judge strikes down Walker's collective bargaining law, case moves to state Supreme Court," May 26, 2011
  20. Wisconsin Reporter, "Judge: Collective bargaining bill violated open meetings law," May 26, 2011
  21. Shorewood Patch, "UPDATE: Unions Sue to Block Supreme Court's Reinstatement of Controversial Budget Repair Bill," June 14, 2011
  22. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "2014 Partisan Primary Candidates," accessed June 19, 2014
  23. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Candidates Registered by Office," June 11, 2014
  24. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Canvass Results for 2014 General Election," December 1, 2014
  25. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Official 2010 General election results," accessed April 25, 2014
  26. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Official 2010 Primary election results," accessed April 25, 2014
  27. The Daily Page, "Chris Larson could transform Wisconsin Senate leadership," September 21, 2010
  28., "Larson, Chris," accessed May 31, 2013
  29. Larson for Senate, "Endorsements," accessed October 22, 2014
  30. Wisconsin Conservation Voters, "Chris Larson for State Senate District 7," July 19, 2010 (dead link)
Political offices
Preceded by
Jeffrey Plale (D)
Wisconsin State Senate District 7
Succeeded by