In it, but not of it. TPM DC

This Week: The Wisconsin Recalls, Round One


Predictably, this has led to some low-level shenanigans, such as a flyer urging conservatives to vote in a Democratic primary for the fake Democrat. Despite the possibility of countering this, Democrats specifically rejected entreaties by labor to respond in kind and run fake Republicans, in order to keep Republican voters in their own primary.

In the unlikely (but not impossible) scenario that an official Democrat might lose their primary in any given race, just consider this: If such candidate couldn't beat the fake Democrat, how could they ever hope to take on the real Republican?

But that's not all. Before the recall season is wrapped up, the Republicans in the state legislature are moving quickly on a very special matter: Redistricting, which will help them lock in partisan advantages in the district maps. The changes will not have any effect on the ongoing recalls -- they would take effect with the 2012 elections -- but would seal in place a map favorable to them even if the people of Wisconsin quickly took away their Senate majority in August.

Of course, there is nothing unusual about a partisan gerrymander in a state where one party has won full control of the legislative and executive branches -- both parties are very skilled at doing it throughout the country. But it is a bit unusual for the remap to be going on at the same time as a widespread recall campaign that could flip control of the legislature.

In fact, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, this move will require special legislation to change the state's own established redistricting procedures, which usually wait for the redrawing and adjustments of precincts by municipalities:

Scott Fitzgerald spokesman Andrew Welhouse said Republicans would seek to pass separate legislation allowing the legislative and congressional maps to be redrawn before local municipalities finish drawing ward lines. Currently, state law requires the ward lines to be drawn first, which would mean that lawmakers would have to wait until long after the recall elections to pass a redistricting plan.

Welhouse said lawmakers were moving more quickly this year because of new technology, such as computerized mapping. He declined to comment on whether local communities could use that same technology to move more quickly as well.

On a conference call with reporters on Friday, state Dem chair Mike Tate said that a review of the map shows that two of their challengers, Fred Clark and Nancy Nusbaum, have been drawn out of their districts -- in Nusbaum's case, by a half of a block. In addition, incumbent Dem state Sen. Robert Wirch, who is also facing a recall in August, has been drawn out of his district.

The state constitution requires that in order to be eligible for election to the legislature, a candidate must "be a qualified elector in the district which he may be chosen to represent." This means that if the affected Democratic recall candidates and incumbents win their races, they will have to move in order to continue serving in the same districts. (The U.S. Constitution does not require district-residency for members of the House of Representatives, only state-residency, but many state constitutions have a district requirement for their own legislatures.)