Voters dealt a massive blow to Wisconsin Republicans in November, from Governor Scott Walk to every single statewide Republican candidate: Democrats were voted in for attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, and lieutenant governor.
But thanks in particular to their extensive partisan gerrymandering, Republicans aren’t allowing the will of the people to get in their way.
The only thing that saved Wisconsin Republicans from a total wipeout in 2018 was gerrymandering. Despite the fact that 54 percent of November 6 voters preferred Democratic state legislative candidates, Republicans secured 63 of 99 Assembly seats—thanks to what Common Cause in Wisconsin refers to as “one of the most partisan gerrymanders of any state legislature in the nation in the last 50 years.” The results reaffirmed the truth of Wisconsin Assembly Democratic Leader Gordon Hintz’s assertion that his candidates were “competing on the most uneven playing field in the United States.”
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Walker’s chief legislative henchman, tried to spin the results as “a mandate” for his caucus. But his claim was undermined by his actions. Since the election results were announced, Vos has been working with Republicans who still control the state Senate to undermine the authority of the Democrats who won statewide and, most significantly, to reduce the prospects for future high-turnout elections.
In essence, Vos and his ilk are actively working to undercut not only the will of the people of Wisconsin but their very ability to make their voices heard.
The changes that they propose to enact this week, in a rushed lame-duck session of the legislature, are dramatic and dangerous. They have drawn loud protests from newspapers that usually back Republicans, good-government groups, and citizens who have rallied at the state Capitol. The newly elected governor of Wisconsin, Democrat Tony Evers, calls the scheme to take key policy making and appointment powers away from him and from newly elected Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul “another embarrassment for Wisconsin”—a historically progressive state that has seen its reputation badly damaged by the constant maneuvering of Walker and his fellow Republicans to undermine voting rights and consolidate power.
“The last election changed the state in a way that apparently the legislature has decided to not accept. They are putting their interests in front of the people of the state of Wisconsin,” says Evers, who has promised to do “take any steps possible to assure the people of Wisconsin that I will not invalidate those votes.”
Republicans are running scared, and what scares them is democracy.