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Matt Pommer: State GOP is eager to keep power

2013-08-01T00:45:00Z Matt Pommer: State GOP is eager to keep powerBy Matt Pommer | Madison La Crosse Tribune
August 01, 2013 12:45 am  • 

Republican candidates received 46.11 percent of the Assembly votes in last year’s election, but the GOP won more than 60 percent of the 99 seats — which translated to exactly 60 seats in the lower house of the state Legislature.

That’s not surprising because the previous Republican-controlled Legislature had drawn the district boundary lines for the Legislature and the state’s eight congressional districts. It marked the first time in a half-century that one party had developed the election districts in Wisconsin.

Even before the election occurred, Republicans were ambitiously predicting they’d win 61 or 62 of the 99 Assembly seats. State Rep. Robin Vos of Burlington, who would become Assembly speaker, spelled it out for lobbyists before the election in case any of them would be in doubt about which party was running the chamber. Most of the lobbyists expected the Republicans to easily win 59 Assembly seats.

The redistricting results virtually assure that Republicans will control the Wisconsin Assembly through 2022. The Democrats will easily win the 39 districts they now hold. The redistricting provisions packed a lot of likely Democratic votes into those districts.

The new congressional boundaries created five safe Republican seats and three safe Democratic seats. U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble of Appleton has warned that gerrymandering has shifted attention from general elections to primary elections. An incumbent faces more political danger from within his own party than from the other party, he said.

On a National Public Radio program last month, Ribble said gerrymandering across the nation might be part of the political dysfunction in America. “If you come from a district that’s 80 percent Republican or 80 percent Democrat, your big problem is whether you’re going to be “primaried” or not.

“We’re at a place now in this country where voters are not picking their representatives any more. Representatives, through the gerrymandering process and redistricting, are picking their voters,” Ribble said.

Last year President Barack Obama won Wisconsin’s electoral votes, and the U.S. Senate seat went to Tammy Baldwin, who was among the most liberal members of the House of Representatives.

As a whole, Democratic candidates for the Assembly got 269,596 more votes than the Republican candidates in 2012. Those sorts of numbers suggest that next year’s gubernatorial election might not be slam-dunk for Republican Scott Walker.

A recent Marquette University poll continues to show a narrow difference between those who approve and those who disapprove of Walker’s performance as governor. The difference is within the range of statistical error.

With that poll in mind, Republicans are counting on the conservative majority in the State Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of tougher voting requirements such as having photo IDs. Republican legislative majorities across the country have adopted similar requirements. Those requirements in other states have been upheld in federal courts.

The Wisconsin challenge is different because plaintiffs contend it violates the state constitution, not the federal constitution. The state document broadly says everyone 18 and older is a qualified elector except those convicted of a felony or have been judged by a court to be incompetent.

The decision may have been sealed this spring when Justice Pat Roggensack won a close election, assuring the conservative control of the high court. The day after the election, Walker told a television reporter: “I won, too.”

Wisconsin Republican leaders, led by Walker, like to suggest that the voting requirement laws are needed because there is widespread voting fraud in the state. To the contrary, Republicans have been unable to offer any evidence of such a crime wave.

A more gentle explanation is that state Republican leaders are embarrassed because their party has been unable to win a presidential election since Ronald Reagan was on the ballot.

Matt Pommer has covered state government in Wisconsin for more than 35 years.

Copyright 2016 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. burnout
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    burnout - August 01, 2013 8:13 pm
    We are so lucky to have the "Governor of the Year" Scott Walker. How could I have been so wrong about this wonderful man?

    He is one of the best Governors in the entire nation and could be President someday. Maybe he will become President after Obama is led out in an orange jumpsuit and chains, wouldn't that be a wonderful day takka?
  2. retiredone
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    retiredone - August 01, 2013 8:03 pm
    Takka-not gonna happen. he won twice. go suck eggs
  3. retiredone
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    retiredone - August 01, 2013 8:03 pm
    Mobley-exactly how many years has your head been stuck up there the sun never shines? This is not new. Even ole stupid Obummer said elections have consequences. Suck it up boy-this is politics.
  4. RemoteEmployee
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    RemoteEmployee - August 01, 2013 7:24 pm
    Agree!
  5. RemoteEmployee
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    RemoteEmployee - August 01, 2013 7:23 pm
    HankReardon@ds.com
  6. RemoteEmployee
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    RemoteEmployee - August 01, 2013 7:23 pm
    Maybe you should be "embarrassed". You used the word "that" when it wasn't necessary. Government school education? Yes - you attended University of Wisconsin , (as stated in earlier posts). DS
  7. TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls
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    TeapartiesR4L'ilGirls - August 01, 2013 1:00 pm
    It is similar to your incorrect understanding of its and it's. Use the ' to mean it is or it has. Don't use the ' in a possessive like you did.

    1. HankRearden - 5 hours ago
    Ewww!

    For those with at least a casual acquaintance with history, we all know what happens when a country becomes immoral and loses it's checks and balances on government power...
  8. HankRearden
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    HankRearden - August 01, 2013 11:34 am
    Maybe you should be "embarrassed" that you can't even spell the word. Government school education?
  9. takka
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    takka - August 01, 2013 9:36 am
    Wake up Wisconsin before it is too late!! Dump Scooter in 2014!! Hi Fubar.
  10. Mobley
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    Mobley - August 01, 2013 8:02 am
    republican = cheater

    Not sure how anyone can justify these boundary changes, unless you're a republican...
  11. ChatterCat2
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    ChatterCat2 - August 01, 2013 6:55 am
    That last line should probably read:
    A more gentle explanation is that state Republican leaders are embarressed because their party has been unable to win Wisconsin in a presidential election since Ronald Reagan was on the ballot.
  12. HankRearden
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    HankRearden - August 01, 2013 6:54 am
    Sour grapes! The public is waking up and realizing the democ-rats are clearly slightly worse than the republicans.
  13. Seriously Now
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    Seriously Now - August 01, 2013 6:15 am
    Ever party is eager to keep power. YOU, the voter has the real power. Check your information sources and don't depend on slanted media to give you the facts you need. Check voting records t see how the incumbent voted on issues you care about.
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