MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The first Democrat to be speaker of the state Assembly in 14 years will be Rep. Mike Sheridan of Janesville.
He was chosen by his fellow Democrats in a secret vote on Wednesday. Sheridan defeated Rep. Jon Richards of Milwaukee.
A four-year veteran of the Assembly, Sheridan is a former president of the United Auto Workers in Janesville.
Sheridan will serve as speaker for the next two years.
Democrats are in control of the Assembly for the first time since 1994.
They also are in the majority in the Senate and the governor's office, giving them complete control in the Capitol.
But they face daunting challenges.
Gov. Jim Doyle is warning that the state will face as much as a $5 billion budget shortfall.
Rep. Sheridan issued the following comment in response to his election: "I am deeply honored and humbled that my colleagues have elected me to serve as the Assembly Speaker. I would also like to thank retiring-Representative Jim Kreuser for his years of strong leadership. We have all worked very hard over the last several years to take back the majority and we have reason to be proud of our success. I believe that we need to hit the ground running to accomplish our mission of getting Wisconsin back on track.
"Throughout my years at the United Auto Workers and General Motors, my style of leadership has always been one of teamwork, problem-solving and cooperation. The State Representatives that serve Wisconsin do not all come from the same mold. We all bring an important and diverse voice to the table.
"As Speaker, I will lead with an open mind and an open door. We need to change politics as usual in the State Assembly. We need to return the state's focus to helping Wisconsin families. And we must begin to restore the trust that the people of Wisconsin once had in their government. We have set the bar high for ourselves, but I know that we are up to the challenge."