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Larson Throws Himself Into Recall Elections

Oak Creek's state senator isn't sitting on sidelines in Wisconsin recalls.

State Sen. Chris Larson's name won’t be on a ballot when Wisconsin voters go to the polls for next week’s historic recall elections.

But that doesn’t mean the first-term Democrat is staying silent.

Through social media and in-person appearances, Larson has actively campaigned for Democratic candidates throughout the run-up to the elections, which will be held Aug. 9 and Aug. 16.

He doesn’t fear alienating the people he supposedly works with – Senate Republicans – and doesn't think about what impact his activism will have when the Legislature returns to session.

For him, ideals like "bipartisanship" and "working together" went out the window during the budget-repair bill battles back in February.

One aspect stands out in particular.

"Me campaigning against them is 100 percent -1,000 percent - less harsh than them putting an arrest warrant on me," he said.

He was referring to the Republicans' vote to find Democrats, who went to Illinois to avoid voting on Gov. Scott Walker’s bill, in contempt of the Senate. That was only one in a series of unprecedented events in the aftermath of Walker's proposal, which stripped most public unions of nearly all collective-bargaining rights.

Larson accused Republicans of refusing to negotiate with Senate Democrats while they were in Illinois or listen to the thousands of protestors who descended on the Capitol. He also criticized them for imposing fines on him and the other missing Democrats. 

Clearly, those chaotic weeks in February and March are not some distant memory.

"The big thing that keeps me motivated and that pushed me into the recalls is that these guys, the Republicans, every single one of them shut down democracy," Larson said Friday.

"They felt so drunk with power," he said. "They thought they could do anything."

That lingering bitterness compelled Larson to advocate for challengers like Sandy Pasch, , as well as incumbent Democrats facing recalls, including Green Bay’s Dave Hansen.

On Sunday, he’ll begin a tour he’s calling "Reclaiming Democracy," in which the Bay View native will spend a day in each recall district to "make sure we restore balance to Wisconsin," according to his Facebook page.

Larson believes Democrats will win the three seats necessary to reclaim the Senate. He’s already penciling in Jennifer Shilling and Jessica King, who are facing Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper, respectively.

If that happens, Democrats would need to win one of the remaining four elections against Republican incumbents to gain a majority in the Senate, and Larson thinks they will get it. Three other elections feature Democratic incumbents.

No matter what the results, attention in the Legislature will likely turn to creating jobs. If Democrats win, Larson said they will try to modify recently-passed legislation, like the voter identification bill.

If the recall election campaigns are any indication, the next session could be as contentious as the last.

DEL NIRODE July 31, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Apparently Mr Larson thinks the way to negotiate is to run to Illinois and hide. What a joke.
Margaret Coonan July 31, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Too bad we have to wait until next year to recall HIM.
rick July 31, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Couldn't agreee with you more Del.
Dan Vitek August 01, 2011 at 12:36 PM
Dan How do incompetent people like this get elected? He was a jerk and idiot when he was on the county board. People better wake and start to give a close look at who they vote for, this State and this county has to many idots running it. Hopfully we can get rid of sticky fingers soon.

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