|Wisconsin State Senate District 7|
|2011 - Present|
|January 3, 2015|
|Years in position||3|
|Minority Leader, Wisconsin State Senate|
|Elections and appointments|
|Last election||November 2, 2010|
|Next general||November 4, 2014|
|Bachelor's||University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2007|
|Place of birth||Milwaukee County, WI|
|Profession||Manager, Sporting Goods Store|
- 1 Committee assignments
- 2 Elections
- 3 Campaign donors
- 4 Legislative walkout
- 5 Key Issues
- 6 Endorsements
- 7 Personal
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Larson is a lifelong Wisconsinite. He earned a BA in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and managed a sporting goods store before being elected Milwaukee County Supervisor in 2008, a position he held until his election to the senate.
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|
At the beginning of the 2011 legislative session, Larson served on the following committees:
|Wisconsin Committee Assignments, 2011|
|• Insurance and Housing|
|• Natural Resources and Environment|
|• Information Policy and Technology|
- See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2010
|Wisconsin State Senate, District 7 (2010) General Election|
|Chris Larson (D)||37,165||57.11%|
|Jess Ripp (R)||27,772||42.68%|
The 7th District is so heavily Democratic that a primary win was tantamount to a November victory and Larson secured a huge 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.
|Wisconsin Senate, District 7 Democratic Primary (2010)|
|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."
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.
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.
|Chris Larson's Campaign Contribution History|
|2012||Wisconsin State Senate, District 7||$99,027|
|2010||Wisconsin State Senate, District 7||$103,777|
|Grand Total Raised||$202,804|
2012Larson 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|
|Sheet Metal Workers International Association||$1,000|
|Forest County Potawatomi||$500|
|Total Raised in 2012||$99,027|
|Source:Follow the Money|
2010Larson won election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2010. During that election cycle, Larson raised a total of $103,777.
|Wisconsin State Senate 2010 election - Campaign Contributions|
|Top contributors to Chris Larson's campaign in 2010|
|Dc 48 People Fund Cmte||$1,100|
|Wisconsin Education Association Council||$1,100|
|Longshoremens Local 815||$1,000|
|Total Raised in 2010||$103,777|
|Source:Follow the Money|
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. The Democratic departure left the Senate one vote shy of a quorum. Reports confirmed the senators fled to a hotel in Rockford, Illinois. State police were dispatched by Governor Scott Walker (R) to retrieve the senators, but were unable to cross state lines.  The 14 state senators who left the state are being described as the "Badger 14" or "Fab 14."
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.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.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."
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."
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."
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. 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.
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. 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.
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."
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.
Republicans pass bill
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.
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.
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." 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.  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."
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.
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.
MCTS Drivers & Employees
Local 212, MATC Faculty & Staff
UW-Madison Graduate Employees
Larson and his wife, Jessica, live in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood.
- Chris Larson on the Wisconsin State Legislature website
- Biography from Project Vote Smart
- Larson on Facebook
- Campaign contributions: 2012, 2010
- Wisconsin State Legislature, "2013 Senate Resolution 1, " January 7, 2013
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Official General Election 2010 Results
- Official GAB primary results
- The Daily Page, "Chris Larson could transform Wisconsin Senate leadership", September 21, 2010
- followthemoney.org, "Larson, Chris," accessed May 31, 2013
- Wisconsin.gov, ASSEMBLY BILL 11, accessed 17 Feb. 2011
- Green Bay Press Gazette, Wisconsin Democrats flee to Clock Tower Hotel in Rockford, Ill., to block anti-union bill, 17 Feb. 2011
- Bloomberg Businessweek, Senator: Missing Wis. lawmakers left the state, 17 Feb. 2011
- The Badger 14
- Fab 14 Facebook page
- WISN, "State Sen. Minority Leader Responds to Walker," February 22, 2010
- Christian Science Monitor, "Wisconsin governor to missing senators: Come back or I'll lay off 1,500," February 28, 2011
- Wall Street Journal, "Pressure Mounts on Absent Democrats in Wisconsin, Indiana," March 3, 2011
- Wisconsin State Journal, "Senate orders arrest of missing Democrats," March 3, 2011
- My Fox Chicago, "Wisconsin GOP Slaps Missing Dems With $100 Daily Fines," March 2, 2011
- Talking Points Memo, "AWOL Wisconsin Dem Beats The System, Gets His Paycheck Mailed To Him," March 3, 2011
- New York Times, "Wisconsin Democrats Urge New Talks on Labor Bill," March 7, 2011
- CNN, "Wisconsin gov: Democratic senator's border meeting idea 'ridiculous'," March 7, 2011
- Talking Points Memo, "Wisconsin Dems Deny WSJ Report Of Imminent Return," March 6, 2011
- CNN, "E-mails: Wisconsin governor offers concessions on budget bill," March 8, 2011
- Miami-Herald, "Wisconsin Republicans bypass Democrats on union bill," March 9, 2011
- Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Senate advances collective bargaining changes; Democrats to return after Assembly vote," March 9, 2011
- Wisconsin State Journal, "Judge strikes down Walker's collective bargaining law, case moves to state Supreme Court", May 26, 2011
- Wisconsin Reporter, "Judge: Collective bargaining bill violated open meetings law", May 26, 2011
- Shorewood Patch, "UPDATE: Unions Sue to Block Supreme Court's Reinstatement of Controversial Budget Repair Bill," June 14, 2011
- Wisconsin Conservation Voters, "Chris Larson for State Senate District 7", July 19, 2010
Jeffrey Plale (D)
|Wisconsin State Senate District 7
| Succeeded by|