WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a last-ditch “stunt,” Wisconsin Senate Republicans introduced and passed an amended bill, all within under two hours, that would redraw the state’s legislative maps in order to protect Republican incumbents.
The maps, which were kept secret from the public and Senate Democrats, significantly amend proposals by Gov. Tony Evers (D) — so much so that the governor’s spokesperson described the quick move as being “about one thing: Republicans desperately trying to retain power.”
The maps passed in a 17-14 vote yesterday afternoon, with four Republicans bucking their own party to vote with Democrats. Evers’ original map would cut Republicans’ Assembly majority down from 29 to seven seats, while the GOP would have a one seat advantage in the Senate. Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, who introduced the maps, claimed the abrupt changes wouldn’t change the current partisan breakdown. Wisconsin’s current legislative maps are among the most gerrymandered in the country.
The 169-page amendment has been labeled an effort by Republicans to bypass the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which could institute maps that reduce Republicans’ legislative seats even further if the Legislature is not able to pass maps that Evers enacts.
This map redraw comes just a month after the newly liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state’s legislative maps for violating the Wisconsin Constitution’s new contiguity requirements. The court ordered the Legislature to adopt remedial maps, but stated that if the Legislature fails to do so, the court is “prepared” to step in and adopt remedial plans.
Meanwhile, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has claimed he would give the green light to Evers’ map without the Republican changes, saying he has “no problem” with them and that Republicans could win under them. The Assembly is expected to vote on the matter later today. Vos is said to be in talks with Evers over the maps.