Hello, it’s the weekend. This is The Weekender ☕
Wisconsin Republicans are facing the first serious threat to their complete and manufactured dominance in the state in a decade — and you can tell.
This week alone, they openly discussed impeaching liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz due to the likelihood that her addition to the court means the unwinding of maps so slanted as to make it virtually impossible for Republicans to lose the statehouse. As a bonus, the liberal majority also probably ensures that abortion remains available in the state.
That conversation stretches back to April, in the immediate aftermath of her victory, which convulsed a state party that had become very comfortable with the idea that their power would persist whether they won elections or not.
Still, the state Republicans seemed to get cold feet this week, and grappled for an offramp: a new “nonpartisan” redistricting process modeled off the one in Iowa, but different in key respects. Like the Hawkeye State, it would recruit lawmakers’ nonpartisan staffers to draw the maps, and subject them to approval by both the legislature and the governor. Unlike the Iowa model, it does not pass the baton to the state Supreme Court if the legislature and governor come to an impasse (surprise, surprise) and gives the legislature final approval after the maps fail to pass a couple times.
A bipartisan couple of Iowa officials sent out a statement Thursday, saying, basically, keep our name out of your lying mouths.
Gov. Tony Evers (D), well accustomed to the machinations of hyper partisan Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R), dismissed the plan out of hand.
Now Wisconsin Republicans are treading water on the impeachment push, hauling old Wisconsin justices out of retirement to assess the criteria for impeaching Protasiewicz — mostly to give the legislators more time to decide whether they want to push forward.
They’ve kept busy in the meantime. On Thursday, they voted to oust Meagan Wolfe, the top election official in the state, mostly for the sin of not capitulating to Donald Trump’s Big Lie pressure in 2020. Wolfe, along with state Democrats, say that the vote to oust her was illegitimate. State AG Josh Kaul (D) has already filed a lawsuit, seeking court confirmation that she can stay in her role.
The first year the maps were in effect, Wisconsin Republicans only won 46 percent of the statewide vote, but netted 60 percent of seats in the state legislature. It’s very nice to only have to worry about whether you’ll have a majority or a supermajority, no matter how the vote goes.
Wisconsin is a one-party state in all but its constituents. The legislature can defang the governor and now — unless it’s cowed by the fury it might unleash in its voters — it may also be able to pick its Supreme Court justices.
More on other news below. Let’s dig in.