Democracy Comes Limping Back To Wisconsin

Last week, Wisconsin Republican legislators decided it was time to cut their losses in regards to the legislative maps. So they adapted the new maps that Governor Evers had submitted to the Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWIS) after the court had found the old maps to be unconstitutional. While the actual legislative maps were exactly the same, the Republicans had significantly changed some things, such as making them effective in November as opposed to in March as the SCOWIS timeline had laid out.

Despite the changes, on Monday, Governor Tony Evers signed the maps into law during a signing ceremony. He then declared it to be a great day for Wisconsin and a new day for Democracy:

“I will always try to do the right thing for our state. Wisconsinites want fair maps, and Wisconsinites deserve fair maps. So, today, I’m enacting fair maps for the great state of Wisconsin,” Gov. Evers said. “When I promised I wanted fair maps—not maps that are better for one party or another—I damn well meant it. Wisconsin is not a red state or a blue state—we’re a purple state, and I believe our maps should reflect that basic fact.

“Today is a victory not for me or any political party but for our state and for the people of Wisconsin who’ve spent a decade demanding more and demanding better of us as elected officials,” Gov. Evers continued. “I believe, as I’ve often said, that the people should get to choose their elected officials, not the other way around. And under the maps I’m signing today, I am making good on that promise. It is a new day in Wisconsin, and today is a beautiful day for democracy.”

Indeed, the new maps are a helluva lot better than the old ones by any stretch of the imagination:

Under the current Republican-drawn maps, Republicans hold 64 of 99 Assembly seats and 22 of 33 Senate seats.

The 99 Assembly districts drawn by Evers are about evenly split between Republican and Democratic-leaning districts. Forty-five districts are more Democratic than Republican, and 46 districts are more Republican than Democratic.

That leaves eight districts that are more likely to be a toss-up between Democrats and Republicans.

In the state Senate, the districts drawn by Evers are also about evenly split between Republican and Democratic-leaning districts. Fourteen districts out of 33 are Democratic-leaning, while 15 districts are Republican-leaning.

The other four districts are competitive, where either party has a fair chance of winning them.

Evers also posted this nifty graphic on Xitter, which really shows the changes and just how gerrymandered the state was:

However, all this isn’t to say that Wisconsin is now a democratic utopia. It should be noted that the new maps only passed the new maps passed the legislature because it is so gerrymandered now. All but one Democrat from each house of the state legislature voted against the bill.

Democratic legislators have a lot of concern regarding the delayed implementation of the maps. They are concerned that gives the Republicans plenty of time for skulduggery, such as suing to stop the maps from taking effect.

Another concern is that the law gives Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who is facing a recall attempt, an unfair advantage because he gets to operate under the old gerrymandered maps and so he won’t have to face the Democratic voters he could be representing.

A third major problem is that no one ever thought about what would happen during the August primaries. There will be primaries since all the seats will be up for grabs and there will be some districts that will have more than one Republican legislator in it. Sources close to the story say that the matter will probably have to be settled in court after all. But the way the law is currently written, it appears that the primaries would follow the old, gerrymandered maps and the general elections in November would follow the new maps. The clusterfuck that could produce would be of epic proportions and unfathomable.

Despite the concerns regarding the poorly written law, there is another bright side to things, along with democracy returning to the state. The melodramatics coming from the Republicans are well worth the price of admission. Some Republicans have gone so far as to compare having to face competitive elections to getting a choice of the method of execution. Although, to be fair, when your platform is as unpopular as the Republicans’ one, I could see how it could feel that way. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch either.

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