Robson exits proud
Robson said she was surprised by the move to demote her.
“I was, of course, disappointed, but that’s part of the rough and tumble world of politics,” she said in a telephone interview.
She said she’s seen better days, joking that the day of her divorce comes to mind.
Robson of Beloit represents most of Rock County and the Whitewater area. She was voted majority leader last year after her party swept into power in the Senate.
She was the first woman of her party to hold the post. The first woman in that job was Mary Panzer, a Republican.
Robson stopped short of saying that being a woman had anything to do with her ouster, but she did note that Panzer also was ousted when another Republican defeated her in a primary.
Robson remains in the Senate at least until the elections of 2010.
The 18-member Democratic caucus met in a closed meeting Wednesday, the day after they passed the state budget, to vote her out of the leadership.
Robson called the budget “a very fair and reasonable compromise,” but she said some other Democrats don’t agree, even though all the senators voted for it.
Robson said the Democrat senators got all the spending items they requested for their districts, but some, including the new majority leader, Russ Decker of Weston, said Robson could have struck a better deal.
“I think some of my colleagues thought we could have waited longer,” Robson said. “No, it was long enough.
“I really am proud of my accomplishments. I tried to put a new face on politics,” she said. “I tried to improve the decorum and respect in the Senate.”
One item lost in the budget deal was the Senate’s proposal called Healthy Wisconsin, designed to provide universal health care.
Robson said Healthy Wisconsin remains a top priority, and she plans to work with others to improve it before it’s reintroduced.
Decker spokeswoman Carrie Lynch said Robson would be able to work on issues that are important to her and that Decker and the rest of the Democrats are committed to Healthy Wisconsin, as well.
“I don’t think there’s any one thing people point to and say Judy did wrong,” Lynch said. “I think as a caucus ... some people felt it was time for us to refocus our message and move ahead in a new direction.”
When asked to define the new direction Lynch rattled off a list of issues: property tax relief, job creation, affordable health care and a good education for all.
Lynch said Robson’s style might have worked against her.
“Everybody does have different approaches to how they do things, and I think perhaps some folks felt that, yeah, it was time to have a new approach,” Lynch said.
Decker is expected to take over the majority leader’s offices, but Lynch said there’s no rush to move Robson out.
“Obviously, we’re not down there measuring for drapes,” she said.
Robson, meanwhile, promised that her constituents will see more of her than they have in the past year.
Decker, 54, was first elected to the Senate in 1990. Robson, 67, has been in the Legislature since 1987, serving in the Assembly until winning her Senate seat in 1998.