As leader of the Democrats in the state Assembly, Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) has had to push back removal attempts after each of the last two elections in which Assembly Democrats lost seats.
While none of those potential coups were enough to remove Barca from leadership, it appears his vote in favor of the Foxconn bill was the last straw for a caucus that has decreased in numbers each of the last four elections. The decrease has also resulted in a stronger partisan tilt to the left for the caucus, leaving no room for a moderate who couldn’t crack the Assembly Republican machine. Barca has been the Minority Leader in the Assembly since 2011.
So far two candidates have stated their intention to run for leadership positions, Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) and Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee). Hintz’s name has been floated before and is of no surprise. He has sat on the Joint Finance Committee and has long been a strong voice in the caucus. His experience in campaigns might be his best argument for the caucus as he is one of the few who has faced a competitive race for his seat in a general election, and he also has some fundraising experience. Zamarripa is not a newcomer but is less established in Madison circles. That said, she is more established in Milwaukee where the largest number of assembly members hail from and could leverage relationships there to find funding to help a statewide operation. Hintz has been in the legislature since 2007 and Zamarripa since 2011. Other candidates may emerge now that the budget and FoxConn bills have moved on this week.