Difference between revisions of "Chris Larson"

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*[http://legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/contact/legislatorpages.aspx?house=Senate&district=7 Chris Larson on the Wisconsin State Legislature website]
*[http://legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/contact/legislatorpages.aspx?house=Senate&district=7 Chris Larson on the Wisconsin State Legislature website]
*[http://openstates.org/wi/legislators/WIL000448/chris-larson/ Profile from Open States]
*[http://www.votesmart.org/bio.php?can_id=109307 Biography from Project Vote Smart]
*[http://www.votesmart.org/bio.php?can_id=109307 Biography from Project Vote Smart]
*Campaign contributions: [http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/candidate.phtml?c=134720 2012], [http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/candidate.phtml?c=131547 2010]
*Campaign contributions: [http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/candidate.phtml?c=134720 2012], [http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/candidate.phtml?c=131547 2010]

Revision as of 10:08, 7 April 2014

Chris Larson
Chris Larson.JPG
Wisconsin State Senate District 7
In office
2011 - Present
Term ends
January 3, 2015
Years in position 4
Minority Leader, Wisconsin State Senate
Base salary$49,943/year
Per diem$88/day
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2, 2010
First elected2010
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
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
Chris Larson is a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Senate, representing District 7. He was first elected to the chamber in 2010. Larson has served as Senate Minority Leader since 2013.[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


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

Wisconsin Committee Assignments, 2013
Senate Organization
Employment Relations
Joint Legislative Council
Legislative Organization


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


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 Erpenbaach.[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, 2010

Larson defeated incumbent Democrat Jeffrey Plale in the September 14 primary. He defeated Republican Jess Ripp in the November 2 general election.[22]

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.[23]

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."[24]

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.[25]

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.


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



In 2010, Larson’s endorsements included the following:[26]

  • 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.

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External links

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  1. Wisconsin State Legislature, "2013 Senate Resolution 1, " January 7, 2013
  2. Wisconsin.gov, 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
  6. Fab 14 Facebook page
  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
  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
  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 Official General Election 2010 Results
  23. Official GAB primary results
  24. The Daily Page, "Chris Larson could transform Wisconsin Senate leadership," September 21, 2010
  25. followthemoney.org, "Larson, Chris," accessed May 31, 2013
  26. Wisconsin Conservation Voters, "Chris Larson for State Senate District 7," July 19, 2010
Political offices
Preceded by
Jeffrey Plale (D)
Wisconsin State Senate District 7
Succeeded by