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Dianne Hesselbein elected as new Senate Minority Leader

Source: Nate Wegehaupt - Civic Media

Dianne Hesselbein elected as new Senate Minority Leader

Hesselbein takes over Senate leadership at a pivotal time for Democrats, as the state Supreme Court weighs redrawing the state's legislative maps ahead of next year's elections.

December 4, 2023 at 01:06 PM UTC

By: Nate Wegehaupt

MADISON, Wis. (Civic Media) – Senator Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) was elected Friday as the state Senate’s new minority leader. 

Hesselbein is replacing Senator Melissa Agard (D-Madison) for the role of top Senate Democrat. Senator Agard announced last week that she was stepping down from the position of minority leader to run for Dane County Executive.

Hesselbein was first elected to the Senate last year after serving over a decade in the state Assembly. Before that, Hesselbein had served on the Dane County Board.

Hesselbein was elected by fellow Senate Democrats in the closed Zoom vote Friday evening, beating out Senators Kelda Roys (D-Madison) and Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) for the position. 

In a statement, Hesselbein said she is honored to be elected to the position, and will make sure that all voices in the caucus are heard. 

“Working together we have great opportunities ahead of us,” Hesselbein says. “As leader, I will ensure that everyone has a voice. I pledge to make every member of our caucus – and the people we represent — a priority.”

Hesselbein is taking leadership at a pivotal time for state Democrats. While they only hold 11 of the 33 seats in the state Senate, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected to strike down the state’s legislative maps by the end of the year. If that happens, every legislative seat will be on the ballot next year, giving Democrats a chance to close the partisan gap in the legislature.

If the maps get redrawn, Hesselbein will be tasked with having a significant role in recruiting Democratic candidates to run for office across the entire state.

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