Wisconsin's new legislative districts and the 2024 elections

Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed into law new legislative districts he proposed and passed by Republican lawmakers — supporters hope these maps will make for more competitive elections.

By Zac Schultz | Here & Now

February 23, 2024

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With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Tony Evers ended the future of a Republican supermajority in the Legislature and gave Democrats a path back to the majority.

“This will become Act 94,” the Democratic governor said during a signing ceremony for the law on Feb. 19

With the threat of the new liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court choosing maps even more favorable to Democrats, Republicans in the Legislature took Evers at his word when he said he would sign his proposed maps into law.

Fearing a trick and a federal lawsuit, Democrats in the Assembly and Senate largely voted against the maps and some encouraged the governor to veto his own maps and wait for the state Supreme Court.

Evers says he talked with those with concerns, but never considered a veto.

“Last week, Republicans passed the maps I submitted to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. And those are the exact maps before me today. They’re my maps. Nothing more and nothing less,” the governor said. “To me, the decision to enact these maps boils down to this — I made a promise to the people of Wisconsin that I would 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.”

After the signing, Democrats celebrated the new maps while Republicans promised they would continue to win legislative majorities in the fall.

“Under these maps, we’ll see more competitive contested races by making it more likely the legislative districts will flip from one party’s control to another when voters preferences change. Every vote matters, and that’s also good for a democracy,” Evers said.

“I was a 100%, if not more, that the governor should do what he did. I’m really proud of him, said Tim Cullen, is a Democratic former state senator who long ago served in Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson’s administration.

Cullen remembers the days when bipartisanship was the norm and said fair maps will help bring that era back.

“It does one simple thing — It means votes in November matter again,” he said. “All that’s mattered for the past 13 years is the primary votes. How do you avoid a primary? You stick with your base — Democrats and Republicans. What does that mean? You don’t work together. You work together, you get called a compromiser or a moderate or something, you will get a primary.”

Most analysis of the new maps shows that while Democrats have a chance at winning the Assembly in the fall 2024 election, it will likely take four years to have a shot at the state Senate, simply because only half the seats are up each election.

But Evers said a more balanced Legislature could mean finding compromise on issues like expanding Medicaid might be possible.

“I have to believe there is at least one Republican in the house or the senate that agrees with us on that,” Evers said. “Then maybe we could find a solution.”

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