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Evers’ most egregious gerrymanders

Empower Wisconsin | March 30, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court rightly rejected Gov. Tony Evers’ unconstitutional political maps, and rightly scolded the Wisconsin Supreme Court for not doing the same.

Evers’ maps created a phantom 7th black Assembly in Milwaukee, spread majority thin, to increase the Democratic Party’s chances at picking up another seat in the Legislature. The governor’s race-based gerrymander clearly violates both the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and the Voting Rights Act.

It’s the most constitutionally egregious example of the Democrat’s redistricting tricks. But Evers routinely stretches, twists and manipulates state legislative districts in a political maps proposal that the Wisconsin Supreme Court and its turncoat “conservative” Justice Brian Hagedorn must now try to salvage or shelve.

Here are some of the more patently gerrymandered districts on Evers’ maps, according to Joe Handrick, redistricting expert and executive director of Common Sense Wisconsin.

Phantom district 

The map shows how the creation of a seventh black Assembly District pulls Senate District 5, represented by Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) into the city of Milwaukee. More so, Evers’ gerrymander evicts Kooyenga from his own district, with the dividing line across the street from his home. Evers shoves the senator into fellow Republican Sen. Alberta Darling’s 8th Senate District.

Current predominantly black senate districts — the 4th and 6th — are served by Milwaukee Democrats Lena Taylor and LaTonya Johnson. Evers’ phantom 7th black Assembly District had to either go into Darling’s or Kooyenga’s districts. Evers makes it the slimmest of slim black voter majorities, spreading the district lines to predominantly white Shorewood. It’s not possible to create 50.1 percent majority minority districts without going ward by ward and focusing exclusively on race, Handrick said. Evers does exactly that with his political maps — a process very much driven by race and very much a violation of law.

“This is the most egregious example overall,” Handrick said. “It hurt Dale Kooyenga in the short run, but in the long run it hurts Milwaukee’s minority districts. Members of the black caucus could be beaten by a white liberal in the primary,” arguably defeating the representational interests of black voters.

‘Cynical gerrymander’

 

The first picture shows the 7th Senate District with Evers’ map on the far right. It appears to have followed the “least change” approach sought by the Wisconsin Supreme Court (least change to the existing political maps).

But look inside and you’ll see Evers’ needlessly and dramatically changed the 21st Assembly District, represented by Rep. Jesse Rodriquez (R-Oak Creek) to try to “take out” a GOP representative, Handrick said.

 

Evers’ maps cut Oak Creek, taking away half, and split South Milwaukee. It also pushed the district into Dem-friendly Cudahy.

“Republicans drop three points,” Handrick said. “It was a very cynical gerrymander, driven by a purely political motive.”

And it was all unnecessary. Not much needed to change to accommodate population change.

Senate District 13 

 

 

Evers’ manipulates the 13th Senate District to the Democratic Party’s political advantage. The district, represented by Sen. John Jagler (R-Watertown) has long been a Republican stronghold. Evers’ plan drives the district to the liberal-rich East Side of Madison. There’s definitely a population shift going on as Milwaukee-area voters leave the city and move west. But Evers takes full advantage of the numbers to turn the district into a much more competitive race for Democrats.

Subtle gerrymander 

 

A good example of Evers’ more subtle gerrymandering is the 42nd Assembly District, served by Rep. Jon Plumer (R- Lodi). It doesn’t look like much of a change, but it drops the town of Alto (one of the most Republican towns in the entire state) and adds the suburban Madison village of DeForrest (64 percent Dem).

“There’s not much of a geographic change, but it drops (Plumer) by 5 points,” Handrick said.

“You see these subtle gerrymanders around the state,” the redistricting expert said. “Because of the least change principle, his map has very few clean kills, but it nicks Republicans around the state.”

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