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New era in Wisconsin politics: Gov. Evers signs new voting maps


By Emilee Fannon

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    MADISON, Wisconsin (WDJT) — The political showdown over Wisconsin’s voting maps has come to an end.

On Monday, Gov. Tony Evers signed legislation to enact new legislative boundaries he drew himself to be in place for the November election, a move that marks a significant shift in the political landscape.

Under Evers’ map, Democrats now have the ability to drastically reduce Republicans’ legislative majority that they’ve maintained in both houses since 2012. That’s because the new maps will significantly weaken GOP lawmakers’ advantage and create more competitive districts for the first time in more than a decade.

During a bill signing ceremony at the state Capitol, Evers called it a “historic day” that will “define our state’s future.”

“When I promised I wanted fair maps—not maps that are better for one party or another—I damn well meant it,” Evers said. “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.”

This opportunity comes after liberals on the state Supreme Court two months ago determined the legislative maps drawn by Republicans in 2011 are unconstitutional.

Former Democratic lawmakers celebrated the milestone, calling it a new era of Wisconsin politics.

“This is significant,” said Don Vruwink, a former state representative who served from 2016-2022. “I think if people like what Democrats have to offer, they will eventually have a chance to be in the majority again, which wasn’t possible under the maps we had before.”

Former Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz said, “It has been a long wait, but I’m thrilled that democracy in Wisconsin has been restored.”

Evers decided to enact his own maps about a week after Republicans overwhelmingly approved them and a majority of Democrats voted against them.

Some Democrats feared conservatives may try to challenge Evers’ maps in federal court after he signed them into law. Evers dismissed that assumption and said if a challenge was filed, Democrats “will prevail.”

“My vote was never about the map itself; it was about the process and making sure we look at all the legal angles,” said Democratic Sen. Mark Spreitzer, who voted against Evers’ maps. “I am certainly optimistic we are not going to see challenges…these are fair maps.”

Other Democrats express concerns that the bill delays the new maps from taking effect until the November election, which would prevent any special elections or recall attempts from occurring before then.

Evers said he’s asking the state Supreme Court to clarify when the maps can be implemented and explained why he ultimately decided to sign them into law.

“To me, the decision to enact these maps boils down to this: I made a promise to the people of Wisconsin that I will always try to do the right thing. And keeping that promise, to me, matters most, even if members of my own party disagree with me,” Evers said.

John Johnson, a research fellow at the Marquette Law School who analyzed all of the maps submitted to the state’s high court, said Evers’ maps are the most favorable to Republicans. Analysis determined under Evers’ maps, 45 districts lean more Democratic, and 46 districts are more Republican.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Republicans ended up passing Evers’ maps because they were “the most Republican-leaning maps out of all the Democrat-gerrymandered maps” being considered by the court.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) echoed those statements.

“These maps are not perfect…. but these maps have the most competitive districts” justices were weighing.

Even though Democrats will get a chance to pick up more seats in the Legislature, Vos said, “This fall, Republicans will prove that we can win on any maps because we have the better policy ideas for the state of Wisconsin.”

Johnson said this is the only the second time in history Democrats and Republicans have agreed on new legislative maps since the redistricting process began in the 1960s.

Under the new maps, 15 incumbents in the Assembly would have to run against one another. Meanwhile, in the Senate, there are six matchups between incumbents.

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