Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer? 

Spreitzer does not plan to run

By: - December 15, 2021 11:39 am

Rep. Greta Neubauer swearing in | official photo via district website

The Assembly Democratic Caucus race to replace current Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, may come down to an uncontested election for Rep. Greta Neubauer (D-Racine).

She announced her intent to run for the position in a release Wednesday afternoon, writing, “As legislators, we ran for office to build a Wisconsin where each and every person can thrive. Over my last four years in office, we have pushed to invest more in education, expand healthcare access, reduce inequality, and more alongside Governor Evers and the Senate Democrats. Democrats have also worked together to counter ongoing attacks on our democracy, a pandemic, and GOP-fueled culture wars.

“In the face of these challenges, it will take all of us to fight for the people of Wisconsin. Today, I am announcing my intention to run for Assembly Democratic Minority Leader because I believe I can lead our caucus to advance our shared priorities in 2022.

“The next twelve months will be an incredibly important time for our state. While we know the obstacles we face heading into the coming year, I believe that we can hold Republicans accountable for their reckless decisions that have put our state and our democracy at risk. Together, we can promote a visionary agenda that improves people’s lives and shows how government can and must be a force for good.”

Neubauer, who was born and raised in Racine and first elected in 2016, played a key role in pushing back on the Republican budget as one of four Democratic members of the 16-member Joint Finance Committee this session. She has also championed the environment and combating climate change as an organizer and legislator, as well as LGTBQ rights and battling what she labeled “transphobic bills” this session that would effectively ban trans athletes on high school and college teams. Having a trans sibling and having come out as bisexual in June 2020, this issue is also personal for Neubauer, who also authored a bill banning “gay panic” or “trans panic” as a defense to claim provocation or self-defense under Wisconsin law.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a year, and so it did take me a while to gather my courage and get my thoughts in order,” said Neubauer, 30, after writing a column on being queer. “It feels, certainly, very different than talking about other policies because it is really personal. It is really vulnerable.”

Rep. Greta Neubauer speaks at a 2019 Pride Festival event. (Photo courtesy of Neubauer.)
Rep. Greta Neubauer speaks at a 2019 Pride Festival event. (Photo courtesy of Neubauer.)

Neubauer has indicated an interest in the leader position, and no one else has stepped forward so far. Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit), who was another potential candidate, has made the decision not to run for minority leader and plans to continue in his role as Democratic caucus chair.

“After considering the needs of my family and the needs of our caucus, I have decided not to run for Democratic leader,” Spreitzer says. “I am confident we will elect a fantastic new leader and I look forward to supporting that person and continuing to help lead our caucus in my current role as Democratic caucus chair.”

This session Spreitzer has also taken a leadership role on Democratic push-back against the Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ controversial election probe, led by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Vos announced Wednesday that he will extend the probe’s timetable and expand its taxpayer-financed budget, which was initially set at $680,000. Spreitzer  is the Democrats’ ranking member on the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections.

While few things in any caucus are predictable — the current assistant minority leader Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) could immediately be reached for comment, but is considering a run to replace departing Sen. Jon Erpenbach.

Note: This story was updated after Neubauer officially announced her intention to run for the top Democratic leadership role in the Assembly late Wednesday afternoon.


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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin was the Wisconsin Examiner's founding Deputy Editor, serving from its launch July 1, 2019, until Feb. 1, 2022. She is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications before returning to journalism at the Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.