Vos named State Assembly Speaker - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Vos named State Assembly Speaker

MADISON (WXOW) -- Just hours after new Assembly Speaker-Elect Robin Vos (R-Burlington) talked about setting a new tone at the State Capitol and working across the aisle, he openly mocked the Senate Democrats surprise choice as leader.

Assembly Republicans selected Rep. Vos as Speaker on a unanimous voice vote Tuesday morning.

Vos will replace Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon), who will leave the Assembly at the end of year.

Rep. Fitzgerald gave up his seat to run for U.S. Senate earlier this year.

As Co-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee, Rep. Vos was a key figure in passing Act 10, Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill.

But after his election as Speaker, Vos told reporters he wants to leave the divisiveness of the past behind him. 

"Where the elections are behind us, now's the time to move Wisconsin forward and govern in a way that brings Wisconsin together and moves our state forward," said Vos.

But that tone changed just a few hours later, after Senate Democrats made a surprise choice in electing 32 year-old Sen. Chris Larsen (D-Milwaukee) to lead their caucus.

Upon the announcement of that news in the Assembly Republican Caucus, Vos said, "Sometimes God gives you a gift." 

The new senate minority leader refused to respond to that comment.

"Look, the Republicans they have the numbers to do whatever it is that they want.  So, I view it as my responsibility and as Democrats responsibility to be the voice for the middle class," said Sen. Larsen.

Meanwhile, no stranger to controversy of his own, Rep. Roger Rivard (R-Rice Lake) bid a tearful goodbye to Assembly Republicans.

Rivard lost to Democrat Stephen Smith last week, on the heels of his comment that "some girls rape so easy."

"These last few weeks have been pretty rough, especially on my wife," said Rivard, fighting back tears.  "And, a lot of you people called and texted me, and phoned me, emailed me and you're true friends and I can't tell you how much I appreciate that."

Outgoing Rep. Joe Knilans (R-Janesville) believes he lost to Democrat Deb Kolste because of his "yes" vote on Act 10, and had some parting words of advice for new Republican members Tuesday.

"You're sent up here for a reason, so, keep that in mind when you make your votes.  Don't worry about the next election, worry about the people of Wisconsin.  That's what I pride myself on," said Knilans.

Rep. Vos says his top priorities will be lowering state income taxes and clearing out unnecessary regulations.

Re-elected Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca says he needs to see the details of that agenda before knowing whether he can support it.

But with a majority in both houses of the legislature, Republicans don't need any support from Democrats.

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