How quickly things flip. Even as Mitch McConnell tries to negotiate the terms of Republican surrender on the debt limit, in Wisconsin, where a series of recall primary elections take place today, Republicans are not shrinking from their desires. In fact, they are moving expeditiously to cement control of the state for the next decade.
Republicans unveiled a plan Friday to redraw the state’s 132 legislative seats just before a wave of recall elections this summer – a proposal that would push at least 11 pairs of lawmakers into the same districts.
A quick vote would allow GOP lawmakers to approve the maps and lock down advantages for themselves at the ballot box for the next 10 years by drawing district lines in their favor. Republicans’ schedule would allow them to sign off on maps to their liking even if they lose control of the Senate in the coming weeks.
You can look at the maps for yourself, but here’s what you need to know. There are 9 recall elections this summer. Four of the districts in the recall change as a result of redistricting, all for the better for Republicans, as Chris Bowers notes:
Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) would see her 8th Senate District change significantly, likely becoming far more Republican.
Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie), who is facing a recall election, would be drawn out of the 22nd District he has long represented. He called the changes “shameful political gerrymandering.”
Democrats said two Democrats challenging Republican senators in recall elections – Rep. Fred Clark of Baraboo and former Brown County Executive Nancy Nusbaum – were drawn out of the districts they are seeking.
Nusbaum was drawn out of the district she’s running in by half a block. Remember that all of these recall elections are in districts that will be up again in 2012. So come next year, these Democratic challengers would be running in differently shaped districts, and would have to move to continue to represent them, per Wisconsin law. And that’s just what we know about the State Senate districts, to say nothing of the ones in the Assembly.
There’s also the point that this breaks with established practice in Wisconsin to hold redistricting after the selection of wards, because of the possibility of making a district that bisects a ward. But Republicans in Wisconsin aren’t much for norms.
So regardless of the outcome of the recalls, Republicans successfully used their time in office to accomplish multiple goals and to sustain their majorities for the future by picking their own voters. Even if they lose control of the Senate in the recalls, they are well-positioned to regain that majority quickly.