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The Wisconsin Disaster

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As we’ve discussed before, as currently configured Democratic voters are effectively disenfranchised when they vote for the state legislature:

In Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race last year, Democrat Tony Evers defeated Scott Walker by one percent statewide — but won a majority of votes in only 36 of the state’s 99 Assembly districts. That same night, Democratic candidates won 53 percent of all ballots cast for the state Assembly, even as Republicans won a 27-seat majority in that body.

In other words: The 2018 midterms confirmed that the GOP has gerrymandered Wisconsin’s electoral maps so aggressively, it will be essentially impossible for the Democratic Party to gain control of that (purple) state’s legislature until its maps are redrawn.

Since the federal Supreme Court is certainly not about to rule that this kind of mass disenfachisement is unconstitutional, the only hope for holding democratic elections in the state is to take over the state Supreme Court. Alas:

So, to liberate Wisconsin from anti-democratic rule, all Democrats really had to worry about was winning this year’s Supreme Court election. And in a rare stroke of luck, Wisconsin conservatives managed to rally behind a reactionary judge so extreme, two of the GOP’s most reliable donors — the state’s Chamber of Commerce and Realtors Association — could not bring themselves to support him. Specifically, Judge Brian Hagedorn had written that the NAACP was a “disgrace to America,” and that homosexual intercourse should be a criminal offense because the “idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable.” The judge had also recently cofounded a K-8 Christian school in the Milwaukee suburbs that does not allow LGBT teachers, students, or parents on its campus.

His liberal counterpart, Wisconsin Court of Appeals chief justice Lisa Neubauer, had no similar baggage. And she had commanding advantage in fundraising for most the race. Some conservative groups resigned themselves to her victory weeks before Tuesday’s election.

So, a lot of Wisconsin Democrats are suffering from a bad case of 2016 déjà vu this morning:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court race that liberals needed to win to have a shot at taking majority control of the court next year appeared headed for a recount, with the conservative candidate declaring victory while holding a narrow lead following Tuesday’s election.

… Conservative Brian Hagedorn, who was Walker’s chief legal counsel for five years, led liberal-backed Lisa Neubauer by 5,911 votes out of 1.2 million cast, based on unofficial results. That is a difference of about 0.49 percentage point, close enough for Neubauer to request a recount but she would have to pay for it.

If Newbauer doesn’t win the recount, this is a catastrophe. But Republican activists have a much better grasp of the importance of state, local, and legislative races.

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