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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Midday Open Thread: Redistricting - What's It To You?

"Republicans and their supporters insisted their maps would pass muster with courts.

"The plan is simply not vulnerable," attorney Richard Esenberg said. "I think any challenges to the plan would be almost frivolous."

Esenberg said courts would show great deference to maps that have passed the Legislature and been signed into law by the governor. Courts have drawn the maps for Wisconsin for generations, largely because control of state government was split and the two parties couldn't agree on them.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Ald. Ashanti Hamilton blasted that approach in a letter Wednesday to the two committees, saying the legislative plan would force the city to spend at least $10,000 to redraw boundaries for nine aldermanic districts. They noted the city held a series of meetings to get public input on local maps.

"Senate Bill 150 negates months of work, outright dismisses our open and transparent public hearing process, and wastes our taxpayer dollars," they wrote.

Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Whitefish Bay), who is running against Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) in the Aug. 9 recall election, said Republicans ran the fake Democrats "not to give their candidates more time to campaign, but to give themselves more time to gerrymander the state."

Pasch is drawn out of her Assembly district under the plan. She would still be in the same Senate district, but if she won the recall election she would have to run for re-election in 2012 in a much more Republican district.

The map would reshape the 7th Congressional District to give parts of Democrat-rich central Wisconsin to the 3rd Congressional District, which is represented by Rep. Ron Kind, a La Crosse Democrat. While that move will help Kind, it would also be a boon to U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, the Ashland Republican who won last year after Obey retired.

Obey noted it would now take five hours to drive from north to south in the 7th District. Those running there would have to run ads in the La Crosse and Twin Cities markets, making races more expensive and thus helping incumbents, he said.

The maps would bolster the Republican makeup of the districts of Darling and two other GOP state senators, Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa and Van Wanggaard of Racine. It would also create a heavily Democratic district that would cover Kenosha and most of Racine.

Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie) would wind up just outside that new district and find himself in Wanggaard's new district. Wirch has dismissed the map as partisan gerrymandering.

Wanggaard said he supported the map and believes it followed legal requirements.

"This looks fair to me. I don't have anything jumping out at me," he said."

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