The state senate Democrats (now in the minority again) elected new leadership yesterday. They had a choice between two new, young, energetic leaders, Chris Larson from Milwaukee or Jon Erpenbach from Dane County.
They chose Larson. While I was pulling for the hometown boy and the spokesperson for the "Fighting 14" senators who decamped to Illinois to buy time against Governor Scott Walker's union busting bill, Chris Larson has his own claim to fame. He knocked off the most conservative and untrustworthy member of the Democratic caucus to win as a severe underdog in 2010.
This burst of energy bodes well for the future of the Democrats.
But before we move on, let's stop for a moment and thank Senator Mark Miller.
Sen. Miller harkens back to a time in politics when you could believe deeply in something and still be descent and play fair. He is much more Gaylord Nelson than Newt Gingrich. He is as true a progressive as they come -- I'll even call him a liberal as a compliment and part of my crusade to rehabilitate that word. Yet, he believes in the integrity of government and in the importance of a fair process. He didn't lead his caucus to Illinois to thwart the process, but to protect it and to give it time to work.
I had the honor (and Mark's misfortune) to help him in his first run for public office, a seat on the Dane County Board from Monona when I lived there. Mark lost that one, with my help, but he never lost another election.
He has served his state and his party with distinction, and he'll keep on doing that as a senator, just not as leader of his party's caucus. He's a good man. We need more of his kind in the senate and everywhere in public life.