Gov. Tony Evers says he’ll veto proposed GOP maps unless they’re revamped significantly and then call the Legislature to a special session to take up his maps.
“The bill is right here,” he said after releasing the final proposals from his People’s Maps Commission. “Right now it’s ready to be introduced and considered and there’s not a single excuse I’ve heard any Republican give as to why they won’t take these up, not one.”
But Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu knocked the People’s Maps Commission proposals. The Oostburg Republican noted they would create fewer majority Black and Hispanic districts than the maps GOP leaders drew. He also pointed out more Wisconsin voters would have to wait more than four years to vote in a state Senate race under the commission’s maps vs. Republicans’.
Under the GOP proposal, 138,753 voters would be moved from odd-numbered Senate districts — which are up in the 2022 cycle — to even-numbered seats — which aren’t up again until 2024. The same would be true of 523,402 voters under the commission’s plan, according to his office.
“Governor Evers attached his name to maps that decrease racial majority-minority districts and disenfranchise over 500,000 Wisconsin voters,” LeMahieu said. “His Commission prioritized partisan gerrymandering over core constitutional protections.”
During a Capitol Rotunda press conference yesterday PMC Chair Christopher Ford said he’s proud of the commission’s work and confident the proposed maps will give people the representation they want and deserve.
“As a commission we feel it is time for normal people, everyday folks, to have a say in their communities; to be heard and to be represented, as it is the people who are the backbones of this state,” Ford said.
Evers also at the event slammed the new GOP maps as a partisan tool to “preserve their undemocratic majorities in the Legislature while increasing Republicans’ chances for disproportionately winning six Wisconsin state congressional districts.”
“As a former teacher, I’ll just say this: clearly they didn’t understand the assignment,” he added.
The courts are expected to ultimately draw the state’s lines if Evers vetoes the GOP maps as expected. If that happens, various parties are expected to submit proposed maps for the courts to consider. Evers said he would advocate for those produced by the People’s Maps Commission in those suits.
“I asked these people to do the job, and they did their job,” he said. “I’ll continue to support these in this Legislature, in court going forward.”
Though Evers and Ford called the maps “fair,” they still would give Republicans an advantage when evaluating districts for performance at the top of the ticket.
The final Assembly map, for example, includes 54 districts where Donald Trump won a majority of the two-way vote in last year’s presidential race and 45 seats that Joe Biden won.
Under the current map, Trump won 62 seats, while Biden took just 37 despite winning statewide by nearly 21,000 votes.
The commission’s proposed Senate map includes 21 Trump districts and 12 Biden seats. Under the current map, Trump won 22, while Biden won 11.
In five of the Senate seats that Trump won, he took 51.5 percent of the vote or less. In one Biden seat, he won just shy of 51.5 percent of the two-way vote, according to numbers provided by the commission.
The commission also proposed fewer majority Black districts than exist under the current lines.
The proposed Assembly map includes two majority Black districts, two majority Hispanic districts and five more seats where whites are a minority of the voting-age population.
Currently, there are six majority Black districts in the Assembly and two majority Hispanic districts.
The proposed Senate map includes one majority Black district and two more where whites are a minority. Currently, there are two majority Black districts.
State Sen. Lena Taylor, who has announced plans to run for lieutenant governor, has knocked previous submissions from the People’s Maps Commission for the drop in the number of majority Black districts. Taylor’s office said the Milwaukee Dem was still reviewing the latest version.
Ford defended the racial composition of the maps, touting what he called nine “minority opportunity districts.” Those are the nine Assembly seats where whites make up a minority of the voting-age population.
He added the commissions’ consideration of primary election data means “that these districts will be served well and they will be able to produce a candidate of choice and have an opportunity to have a representative.”
The proposed congressional map would have four solid GOP districts, two heavily Dem seats and two lean Dem districts.
The 2nd and 4th CDs — based in Milwaukee and Dane County — would remain strong Dem seats.
Meanwhile, the 1st CD in southeastern Wisconsin would have a partisan Dem lean of 51.6 percent to 45.6 percent, according to a breakdown in the People’s Maps Commission report. The district leans were based on statewide election results from 2016-20.
The 3rd CD in western Wisconsin would have a Dem lean of 50.5 percent to 46.6 percent, according to the report.
In 2020, Donald Trump won the 3rd CD by 4.7 percentage points and the 1st by 9.2 percentage points.
Under the proposed congressional map, the other four seats would have a GOP lean ranging from 54.2 percent in the 6th to 63.8 percent in the 5th.
See the proposed congressional map: