Wisconsin governor seeks to intervene in redistricting case
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) on Monday sought to intervene in a federal lawsuit that asks a court to redraw the state’s political boundaries, the latest volley in a contentious redistricting process that pits the Republican legislature against the Democratic executive in a key swing state.
Evers and Kaul said state law gives the governor a say in the redistricting process and that Evers therefore should be allowed to influence the litigation as it moves forward. State law gives the governor the right to sign or veto maps passed by the legislature.
“I never thought I would be spending a lot of my time as governor protecting our democracy, but it’s clear that with continued attacks on the right to vote, misinformation around the 2020 election, and efforts to gerrymander our maps, this work has never been more important,” Evers said in a statement.
The federal court has allowed the Republican-controlled legislature to intervene. The legislature has asked the court to dismiss the case, filed by Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias, which seeks to preempt a potential impasse between the two parties.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R), Evers’s constant sparring partner, said last month he was confident that the legislature would “draw a map that the governor will sign.”
The filing says Evers and Kaul want to provide the court with work done by the People’s Maps Commission, an entity Evers established to draw district boundary lines independent of partisan influence.
Elias did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Wisconsin’s political maps are among the most gerrymandered in the country, according to studies from political scientists at Binghamton University and Stanford. Republicans in recent years have won just around half the vote for legislative seats statewide but nearly two-thirds of the districts themselves; they hold 61 of 99 seats in the state Assembly after winning 54 percent of the popular vote.
“Gerrymandering stifles the voice of the people in order to serve politicians’ self-interest,” Kaul said in a statement. “We need to put an end to this practice that undermines our democracy.”
The outcome of the case could be critical in determining which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2022 midterm elections.
Republicans currently hold five of the state’s eight seats in Congress, though one Democratic district, held by Rep. Ron Kind (D), voted for former President Trump in 2020. The fate of Kind’s district hangs in the balance as mapmakers tinker with borders around Madison and smaller towns on Wisconsin’s western border with Minnesota and Iowa.
Kind, who narrowly won reelection in 2020, is retiring after nearly a quarter century in Congress.