But Taylor is a specific person, not merely a member of a minority group, and there's some real detail to the power moves among these Wisconsin Senate Democrats. Though I live in the Wisconsin state capital, I don't obsess over the Wisconsin Senate, but here's Bruce Murphy at Urban Milwaukee providing some background on Larson, who's only been in the senate since 2010 (when he beat the incumbent Democrat (Jeff Plale) in the primary with 61% of the vote). Now, he's beaten long-term senator Jon Erpenbach to be minority leader. That's a big deal!
Adding... controversy to Erpenbach’s defeat was that a last minute switch by one legislator gave Larson his victory. Insiders have speculated that State Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie) changed his vote. Wirch declined to confirm this, but did tell Wispolitics he wanted an appointment to the joint finance committee. No sooner was Larson elected than he appointed Wirch to joint finance, along with Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse).Boldface added. Lena Taylor is not Generic Black Woman. She is (apparently) a bad legislator and she's been opposed to Larson politically, repeatedly. So now she's on the outs and she's trying to play the race card. Some conservatives think it's too fun not to play.
In giving Wirch the position, Larson dropped Milwaukee state Sen. Lena Taylor from joint finance. Taylor decried this, noting that its the first time in 30 years there was no African American on joint finance. Larson and Taylor have butted heads before. Taylor supported Plale against Larson and probably supported Erpenbach over Larson.
The two were also on opposite sides on legislative elections. Taylor supported Millie Coby against incumbent Sandy Pasch, Elizabeth Coggs against Nikiya Harris and Jason Fields against Mandela Barnes in the September primaries. All three of her candidates lost, all to candidates supported by Larson.
Then there is the question of Taylor’s effectiveness. A February 2009 Milwaukee Magazine ranking of all state legislators by Marc Eisen ranked Taylor as one of the ten worst legislators. With Republicans controlling both houses, they get 12 of 16 appointments to joint finance, so the outnumbered Democrats need very strong choices. Larson gets only two appointments, and his two picks, Wirch and Shilling, both have more than a dozen years experience in the legislature.