Friday, July 8, 2011

Republican leaders release redistricting maps

Potential for gerrymandering, lawsuits seen as inevitable

Republicans in the state legislature have released the redistricting maps that will redraw the legislative boundaries within the state.

The process, which is performed every 10 years in accordance to both U.S. and State Constitutional mandates, oftentimes benefits the party that gets to draw the maps. Gerrymandering, the art of politically drawing legislative districts in favor of your party, is likely to become a topic of great discussion within the next couple of weeks, perhaps entering the every-day vernacular of Wisconsinites across the Badger State.

It will be interesting to see what will come out of these maps. Northern Wisconsin and Milwaukee both lost a number of residents since 2000, but the Fox Valley and Dane County also saw gains. (Fun fact: The state as a whole grew by 320,000)

It's my hope that the maps will be drawn fairly and proportionally, not in a way that could benefit either party. But with the Republican leadership we've seen thus far in 2011, it wouldn't be surprising to see another political battle brew up over the entire process. In fact, for many it's expected.

Sen. Majority leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) isn't holding his breath either. Aware of the historic arguments created both within the state and nationally, Fitzgerald has already predicted that Democrats will likely sue over the proposed maps:
"Most of the times the courts have drawn the maps," Jeff Fitzgerald told the State Journal last month. "I'm sure (Democrats will) sue on this."
That in itself says a lot about how Fitzgerald feels things will go down. Rather than having confidence in the maps he has prepared, Fitzgerald is certain that they will be seen negatively by the opposition.

Which means the maps weren't drawn with Democrats in mind.

Which means they'll be great for Republicans.

Like I said before, I'm hoping I'm wrong on this. But "hope" doesn't change the fact that we have one divisive legislative body right now, due in large part to the leadership of the Fitzgerald brothers. It wouldn't surprise me any to see one helluva politically-drawn map. What would surprise me at this point would be seeing something done fairly and accurately, benefiting the people of this state rather than Republicans and their special interests.

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