Fifty Three to Fifty Six: Kaufert losses bid for leadership

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Kaufert losses bid for leadership

MADISON — The Republican-controlled state Assembly will have to serve as the "last line of defense" against a Democratic governor and Senate, the newly elected speaker said Tuesday.

State Rep. Mike Huebsch of West Salem was elected speaker by the 52-member Republican Assembly caucus following a secret ballot in which he was challenged by state Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah.

Assembly Democrats unanimously re-elected state Rep. Jim Kreuser of Kenosha as minority leader and state Rep. Jon Richards of Milwaukee as assistant minority leader.

Kaufert said Tuesday night he was disappointed that he lost to Huebsch, but he realized he began campaigning for the position late and many lawmakers had already pledged support to Huebsch.

"I wish I had more time," he said. "Mike has had three months. I've had four or five days."

Huebsch will take control of the 99-member Assembly following an election in which Republicans lost eight seats there but kept majority control.

Democrats took over control of the Senate for the first time since 2002 and Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle won re-election.

"We must come together as a team and we will lead," Huebsch told his fellow caucus members.

During Doyle's first four years in office, both the Senate and Assembly were controlled by Republicans. Now Doyle and Democrats will enjoy majority control in the Senate, 18-15, while the Republican majority in the Assembly is 52-47.

Huebsch said later that he doesn't expect Republicans in the Assembly to back down from their core beliefs, but they will work together with the Democratic-controlled Senate.

What that means is some hot-button social issues that won approval in the past may not be pursued knowing they don't have a chance of passing the Senate, he said.

In his first term, Doyle vetoed bills to legalize concealed weapons, require photo IDs at the polls and a measure to ban human cloning.

Kaufert said the people of Wisconsin want lawmakers to cut through partisan gridlock and work on "the issues that matter," like taxes and jobs.

"We'd better start listening to the people back home," Kaufert said

From Appleton Post -- -- 11/15/06


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