Sitting down with Chris Larson

Last week I had an opportunity to sit down with Milwaukee County Supervisor Chris Larson, who recently announced he’s mounting a primary challenge to incumbent Democratic State Senator Jeff Plale, who represents the 7th State Senate District.

I started out our conversation by asking Larson why he decided to challenge an incumbent from his own party, and his response was that he’s been frustrated for a long time about the representation Sen. Plale has provided in the 7th District, but he noted he didn’t have the ability to get anything done to change the status quo. Larson went on to note that the makeup of the 7th District is almost sixty percent Democratic, adding that Sen. Plale is a very moderate with conservative leanings on a number of issues. Larson also noted that while he had been considering the possibility of a challenge to Sen. Plale, it was Sen. Plale’s efforts to thwart passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), as well as the failure on the part of legislators – including Sen. Plale – to implement dedicated funding for transit and a Regional Transit Authority that significantly influenced Larson’s decision to challenge Sen. Plale.

Larson also added that he and many others had worked hard for years on the issue of funding for transit, only to see those efforts get killed behind the scenes in the State Senate, adding that when he went to Madison to testify about legislation dealing with transit, the Assembly held hearings on the issue while the State Senate didn’t want to hear what Larson and others had to say. In discussing transit, Larson noted that transit is a huge issue in the 7th District, adding that as fares get raised and routes get cut, it becomes more and more difficult to get people to their jobs if they don’t have transportation of their own.

As our conversation continued, I asked Larson how his campaign has been received, and he said that while he’s gotten enthusiastic support from voters, party insiders have been less enthusiastic about his campaign. Larson went on to explain that prior to his announcement that he would challenge Sen. Plale – when his candidacy for the 7th District was just a rumor – he got calls from party insiders advising him not to run, stating that if he did challenge Sen. Plale they would put Larson “through the shredder.” Smiling, Larson noted that those phone calls also helped seal his decision to run against Sen. Plale.

As our conversation wound down, I did ask Larson how he expected to beat an entrenched incumbent like Sen. Plale, and he answered with one word: doors. Larson made it clear he plans on working hard to win the primary, and he was also quick to point out that he hopes to capitalize on the general anti-incumbent sentiment among voters this year. Larson added that Democrats had high hopes that with majorities in the State Assembly and the State Senate, they’d be able to do great things on issues like property tax relief, a Regional Transit Authority, and dedicated funding for transit and parks, yet there were no measurable gains on any of those issues in the State Senate during the last legislative session. Larson added, “There’s no way we can reset the table with the same elected officials who let us down and expect a different result.”

While there’s no denying Chris Larson has an uphill battle in his campaign to unseat Sen. Jeff Plale, Larson certainly seems to have the energy, enthusiasm, and determination to get the job done.


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14 thoughts on “Sitting down with Chris Larson

  1. It’s refreshing to see new energy in our local political realm.

    I would like to know Chris Larson’s views on education funding. Public school education is the largest item in our state’s budget. The funding formula is outdated and broken, as our legislator’s hands are “tied” because the educator unions will not negotiate pension or benefits to keep our schools going.

    We need someone with a backbone who can negotiate with the educator unions to get their pensions and benefit costs up to today’s standards and do away with the “last hired, first fired” model. These outdated union rules are killing our children’s future.



    1. RocketMom, if you want someone with a backbone to negotiate with the teachers’ unions, then you should look on further than the South Milwaukee school board, as they’re the ones that negotiate contracts with the various unions that represent SDSM employees.

      As for the school funding formula, you’re right that it’s broken.

      1. My glimpses into the school funding formula have shown it to be contrived at best, or a swirling pot bearing the eye newt and toe of frog, not to mention eye of newt and toe of frog. It is in dire need of a comprehensive overhaul.

        1. There’s no doubt it’s in need of a comprehensive overhaul, but it certainly seems that no legislators – Democrat or Republican – have the will to take on the issue.

  2. really???

    has anyone bothered to look at Larson’s votes on the County Board??? Guess which supervisor he votes with most often???

    yep….Peggy West…..enough said

  3. What has Larson Done to deserve my vote?
    granted he’s left of Plale, but that’s not enough to get him elected (Ask Joel Brennan)
    I just Think It’s a joke the way you guys are after Plale. Granted he’s a whore for A T & T. But you’d think reading your comments that he was the sole reason that the legislation didn’t pass.
    Guess what, Never passed the Assembly….wait never even got a vote there either. Bottom line is they didn’t have the votes to pass it in either body so why bother subjecting their members to a tough vote if it was all going to fail anyways.
    Passing legislation and governing is a little more involved that writing blogs!!!

        1. And does Larson have your interests in mind? Looks like he’ll send jobs out of state (CEJA) and raise your taxes (transit, among others). Can’t wait.

          Love watching Democrats beat up on Democrats. Keep moving to the left boys!

  4. I Like the 100% Afl Cio Record.
    The Fact that he supported contraception for rape victims, financing of judicial elections bill, labor history, payday lending legislation,mandatory kindergarten, indoor smoking ban, limiting gov’s veto, minimum wage increases,womens discraminority pay.

    just to name a few….but i know,,,your’e talking points are 2 bills that never got voted on in either house!!!

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