Evers’ latest card would retain GOP advantage in the Legislature


Gov. Tony Evers said the latest redistricting plan his office submitted to the state Supreme Court would create more competitive districts in Wisconsin, but the governor’s plan would still preserve a Republican advantage in the Legislature. .

Evers and others submitted proposed maps to court Wednesday as part of an ongoing state redistricting lawsuit.

While the judges have yet to rule on a specific map, the court’s conservative majority handed down a massively consequential ruling last month, ruling it would favor a “less changes” approach to redistricting. The court ruled that because the governor and legislature could not agree on a new map, the fairest approach was to make only necessary changes to the old map that the legislature adopted in 2011. .

In practical terms, it was a major victory for Republicans, who were able to secure large legislative majorities in Wisconsin even in years when Democrats performed well across the state. Republicans currently hold a 61-38 majority in the Assembly and a 21-12 majority in the state Senate.

“The biggest issue was that the Supreme Court said it had to be a minimalist approach,” Evers said Thursday. “So there wasn’t much left on the table to offer.”

According to the governor’s office, Evers’ proposed plan in the Supreme Court would still give Republicans a 55-44 majority in the House and a 20-13 majority in the Senate. Evers’ office said those projections were based on an average of six statewide elections since 2016.

“I think we’ve come up with the best maps possible, creating many more competitive races than we’ve seen in recent years in Wisconsin,” Evers said. “Is this where we would like to be? Fair cards is where we would like to be.”

States redraw their legislative and congressional boundaries at least once every decade after the release of U.S. Census data, a process designed to keep districts roughly equal in population.

The last time this happened in 2011, Republicans controlled both houses of the Legislative Assembly and the governor’s office, letting them draw the map exactly how they wanted. This map has helped them preserve large majorities in the Legislature, even in years when Democrats won big victories across the state.

Evers initially approved maps created by his People’s Map Commission that would have drastically reshaped the current lines of legislative districts, resulting in a statewide plan that either party could theoretically have win when the political pendulum has swung. But Evers’ proposal never went anywhere in the Legislature, where several Democrats joined Republicans in voting against it, and the Supreme Court’s endorsement of a “less changes” approach effectively ended the plan’s chances for good.

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While the governor’s latest proposal still preserves a significant Republican advantage on the map, it would be an improvement for Democrats over the current map.

GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, want the court to pass the maps they passed this year, which Evers vetoed. According to an analysis by Marquette University, Republicans are expected to win 63 seats in the Assembly, up from 61 currently. In the Senate, Republicans are expected to win 23 seats, up from 21 previously.

That would leave Republicans a few seats away from winning a two-thirds supermajority in the Legislature — the margin needed to override a governor’s veto.

GOP leaders released a written statement attacking Evers for crafting his latest plan privately given his previously stated goals of a transparent redistricting process.

“Bipartisan supermajorities have rejected the Governor’s People’s Map Commission (PMC) cards,” read a written statement from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu. , R-Oostburg. “Now Governor Evers has dropped his campaign rhetoric promising independently drawn maps to quickly and secretly draw his own trick maps without public participation. The Governor’s hypocrisy is impossible to ignore.”

Evers told reporters on Thursday that his office drew the final maps without a public hearing process due to the tight deadline given to the parties by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Others have also offered maps for the court, which could hold a hearing on the plans in June.

A federal court could still review the Wisconsin map, but legal experts say it would likely be limited to making significant changes to the plan.

For more on the history of redistricting in Wisconsin and its impact on political power in the state, check out WPR’s investigative podcast series, “Mapped Out.”

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