State Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, made the right choice when she decided to resign her position as assistant state Senate majority leader.
Lazich is too committed to the New Berlin community she serves and too active with her constituents to be lost over a matter of partisan wrangling.
Lazich does not need to be assistant majority leader to have an impact because she is also a member of the powerful Joint Finance Committee. That committee will have the first shot at shaping the state’s biennial budget after Gov. Jim Doyle proposes it. From that position, she will be able to have as much impact on its eventual form as almost anyone in the state Legislature.
It is an important position that will give her the opportunity to prove her claims of being conservative.
It is the jostling for a leadership position that had needlessly placed her in jeopardy in the first place.
She placed herself in harm’s way because of her vote on who would be the state Senate majority leader. The vote was taken last month, and Lazich voted for state Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, who won the post, ousting the man who had been interim majority leader, state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau.
Right after the vote, Lazich was named by Schultz to the powerful Joint Finance Committee and elected as assistant majority leader.
Lazich’s vote angered Waukesha County Republican Party Chairman Don Taylor as well as a colleague, state Sen. Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield. Not only did Lazich fail to vote for a conservative who would actively guide such issues as a property tax freeze and same-sex marriage, she lied to them about her vote — a confession she grudgingly admitted to later.
Taylor told The Freeman after the vote he had had long discussions with Lazich about the vote and she promised to vote for Fitzgerald.
Taylor said he stressed the importance of passing a property tax freeze, a Taxpayer Bill of Rights and other conservative issues in the upcoming biennial legislative session, slated to begin in January.
Yet Schultz was one of a handful of state Senators who refused to commit to voting for TABOR earlier this year when former state Senate Majority Leader Mary Panzer, R-West Bend, was trying to hold a TABOR vote.
But Taylor said after Lazich’s resignation, “I approve of what she did today. That is a major step.”
Kanavas was also livid but said after she resigned, “This is an act of contrition on Mary’s part. It’s now time for the state Senate to go back to work.”
Lazich will certainly have the opportunity to show that her work is focused on the values she espouses.
Regardless of whether this leads her down the same road that faced Panzer when Panzer crossed the conservative wing of the GOP, Lazich should have learned a valuable lesson for future reference — honesty is the best policy.
– The Freeman, Waukesha