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Janet Bewley Selected As New Senate Minority Leade

Wisconsin Public Radio
State Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Mason. Photo Courtesy of state Sen. Janet Bewley

Bewley Replaces Sen. Jennifer Shilling Who Is Not Seeking Reelection

Democrats in the Wisconsin state Senate have picked Sen. Janet Bewley as their new leader.

The caucus elected her minority leader Friday, replacing Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse. Shilling announced earlier this month she won't seek reelection this fall and stepped down as leader Friday.

"I want to congratulate Sen. Bewley and am happy to pass the baton as she takes on this new role," Shilling said in a statement. "I know that Janet’s strong and pragmatic leadership will provide a smooth transition and lead to success over the coming months."

Bewley hails from Mason and has represented far northwestern Wisconsin's 25th Senate District since 2015. She has served as assistant minority leader since 2017.

In an interview with WPR, Bewley said one of her first priorities is shaping the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Having gone through Act 10 as a freshman in the Assembly, I think it was a very good, very good testing ground, very good opportunity for learning how you navigate in troubled times, and I hope I can take advantage of that experience," she said.

She added that she thinks the response to the pandemic has been lacking so far, and hopes to see more relief for small farms and small businesses.

Bewley takes over as Democrats are fighting to recapture the majority in November's election. She said even just picking up a few seats would benefit her party.

"We will keep the Republicans at a point where it will become harder and harder and harder for them to pass the harmful and extreme bills that some in the Republican caucus want to pass," Bewley said.

Editor's note: WPR's Danielle Kaeding contributed reporting to this story.

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