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Dems question Robson's leadership

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
October 24, 2007
— The local senator who has led the Democratic majority in the state Senate this year may not be doing so for much longer.

Criticism has surfaced in the wake of the passage of the state budget.


Sen. Judy Robson, whose district includes most of Rock County and the Whitewater area, led the Democrat team that negotiated the deal to pass the budget.


Robson was minority leader when her party swept into power in the Senate in last year’s elections, and tradition dictated that the leader of the victorious party becomes the Senate’s majority leader.


Robson of Beloit was the first woman to hold that position.


But the Democrats faced a Republican-controlled Assembly determined to hold out against tax increases. That led to nearly three months of stalemate on the budget.


Sen. Russ Decker, another member of the Democrats’ team that negotiated the budget compromise, is quoted as saying that Robson should have gotten a better deal on the budget.


The compromise included the Democrats dropping a Senate plan to provide universal health care, a plan called Healthy Wisconsin.


“The time may not have been right, but the policy certainly is. Everyone in this room knows those kind of reforms are coming; if not today soon,” Robson said as the compromise was announced.


The Senate Democrats caucused after the budget was passed Tuesday, and they discussed the future of Robson as majority leader, according to press reports.


Julie Laundrie, a spokeswoman for Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, indicated this morning that the question of Robson’s leadership would come up in a Democratic caucus today.


Laundrie issued a short statement in response to The Janesville Gazette’s questions: “The caucus is united on what we want to do (as far as its policy agenda goes). It’s just a question of who the leader is that is up in the air.”


Rep. Spencer Black, a former leader of the Assembly Democrats, defended Robson. He said he has voted for a lot of budgets, but he’s never been happy with any of them.


“Judy had a rough decision because she was up against a party that didn’t want to have a budget, basically, or didn’t care whether we had a budget,” Black said. “… So it was a difficult situation for her, because I think she was trying to be responsible against a political party that didn’t feel the same obligation to be responsible for governing the state.”


The Janesville Gazette was not able to reach Robson for comment this morning.



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