5 Reasons for Republican Power Play
One key reason: they see Tony Evers as weak.
There are many explanations for last week’s power play by Republicans that trampled Democratic lawmakers and took power away from Democratic Governor-Elect Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General-Elect Josh Kaul.
Five of them:
First, Republican legislators knew they could act with impunity, having increased their majority in the Senate and kept 63 seats in the 99-member Assembly after a tough campaign season.
Before the November 6 election, incumbent Republican legislators worried about running in the shadow of an unpopular President and voters’ concerns about health care, funding K-12 schools and bad roads. Republicans also worried that polls gave Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin insurmountable leads over her Republican challenger, State Sen. Leah Vukmir, in the top-of-the-ticket race. And, when there were signs that more than 500,000 residents – or about one in five – were voting early, Republicans got more nervous.
Instead, voters narrowly ousted two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel. Democrats also won two other statewide offices. But no incumbent Republican legislator lost, which Democrats insisted proved how effectively Republicans had gerrymandered the state in their favor in 2011.
Consider this: If you’re a Madison Democrat and mad as hell at the GOP’s power grab, is there any way you can punish a Republican legislator for last week’s power grab? No. Why? The only names on your Madison ballot will be unopposed Democrats in November 2020.
That’s because November 2020 will be the last time Republican legislators run in districts they drew in 2011 – districts that have been very, very good to them. More certain than ever that they will get re-elected in 2020, Republican leaders secretly drafted their package of bills to give the legislative branch more authority at the expense of Evers and Kaul.
After all, Republicans reasoned, Evers won largely because voters in two counties – Dane and Milwaukee – favored him over Walker by a stunning margin of 288,915 votes.
In an election for governor that drew a record 2.6 million votes, the Evers winning margin of only 29,227 votes was “no mandate,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told his caucus when they met to re-elect him speaker.
Vos is expected to run for governor in 2022.
Third, GOP leaders like Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have never considered Evers their political equal in take-no-prisoners Capitol wars. So, they thought he would struggle to offer a quick response to their rewrite of the rules of governing.
After all, Evers had a “Tony too nice” reputation. He served as state superintendent of public instruction since 2009 and, before that, was a school district administrator. Evers didn’t become a Capitol power player until he won the August primary to challenge Walker.
Fourth, Republican legislators were willing to take their chances in lawsuits expected over how GOP’s rebalancing of power between the executive and legislative branches of state government.
“There’s going to be litigation,” Kaul warned.
But state law defines the duties of the attorney general, so changes on that could be upheld. The strongest legal claim may be that the Republicans’ changes illegally infringed on the governor’s inherent powers.
Fifth, Republican legislators say, the changes they rammed through the Legislature in a two-day blitz didn’t include some of the most radical steps they had considered. That not-so-subtle message is: “It could have been worse.”
For example, Republicans dropped the plan to move the 2020 Presidential primary from April to March – a move that Fitzgerald bluntly admitted could have helped reelect conservative Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly. Republicans felt Kelly, a Walker appointee to the court, had a better chance of winning re-election in a low-turnout April election in which voters were not picking presidential favorites.
Republicans also considered, but rejected, trying to limit the governor’s broad veto powers.
Republicans also did not attempt to change how new legislative district lines will be drawn after the 2020 Census. Those lines are drawn in a bill that must be approved by the governor.
One rumor: Republicans researched whether new districts could be drawn through a joint resolution the Republican-controlled Legislature would pass – a process that would bypass Evers.
That was why, when Republicans finally made public their list of changes, they quickly added: “We didn’t touch redistricting.”
More about the Lame Duck Laws
- Judge Blocks Lame Duck Voting Restrictions - Laurel White - Jan 18th, 2019
- Rep. Jimmy Anderson Seeks to Void the Wisconsin Power Grab - State Rep. Jimmy Anderson - Jan 10th, 2019
- Op Ed: Lame Duck Mischief Defamed the State - Spencer Black - Jan 2nd, 2019
- Campaign Cash: Lame Duck Law Helped Ashley Furniture - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Dec 20th, 2018
- Op Ed: Liberals All Wrong on Early Voting Law - Rick Esenberg - Dec 20th, 2018
- Op Ed: We the Irrelevant People - Sheila Plotkin - Dec 19th, 2018
- History Repeats With Latest Post-Election Republican Attack on Early Voting - One Wisconsin Now - Dec 19th, 2018
- Kaul Calls Lame Duck Laws ‘Terrible’ - Mary Kate McCoy - Dec 19th, 2018
- Court Challenge to Voting Restrictions Filed - Laurel White - Dec 18th, 2018
- Murphy’s Law: State Facing Endless Lawsuits? - Bruce Murphy - Dec 18th, 2018
- One Wisconsin Institute Files Request for Court to Enforce Rulings Striking Down Republican Lame Duck Restrictions on Voting - One Wisconsin Institute - Dec 17th, 2018
- Motion to Block Early Voting Restrictions to be Filed Today - Citizen Action of Wisconsin - Dec 17th, 2018
- Carpenter: Require ‘Lame Duck” Bills to Supermajority Votes - State Sen. Tim Carpenter - Dec 17th, 2018
- Op Ed: Lame Duck Bills Too Rushed, Secretive - Erin Grunze - Dec 16th, 2018
- Walker Signs Lame Duck Bills - Laurel White - Dec 14th, 2018
- Rep. Zamarripa Statement on Lame Duck Bills - State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa - Dec 14th, 2018
- One Wisconsin Institute Announces Coming Legal Action Against GOP ‘Lame Duck’ Voting Rights Attacks - One Wisconsin Institute - Dec 14th, 2018
- Governor Walker just sealed his legacy as the worst Governor in state history - State Sen. Chris Larson - Dec 14th, 2018
- Governor Walker Signs Extraordinary Session Legislation into Law in Green Bay - Gov. Scott Walker - Dec 14th, 2018
- Governor-elect Tony Evers Statement on Kimberly-Clark Announcement - Gov. Tony Evers - Dec 13th, 2018
- Walker Defends Lame Duck Bills - Laurel White - Dec 12th, 2018
- Murphy’s Law: Republicans’ Plan for Permanent Power - Bruce Murphy - Dec 11th, 2018
- Lame Duck Law Adds Work For State Agencies - Rich Kremer - Dec 11th, 2018
- Lawmakers Change How WEDC Tracks Jobs - Laurel White - Dec 10th, 2018
- Op Ed: Republican Power Grab Unprecedented - State Sen. Chris Larson - Dec 10th, 2018
- The State of Politics: 5 Reasons for Republican Power Play - Steven Walters - Dec 10th, 2018
- Campaign Cash: WMC Behind New Anti-Regulation Bill - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Dec 7th, 2018
- Wisconsin Budget: One More Tax Cut For The Wealthy - Tamarine Cornelius - Dec 7th, 2018
- City Beat: Episode 002 - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 6th, 2018
- Lame-Duck Bill Changes Highway Funding - Rich Kremer - Dec 6th, 2018
- Murphy’s Law: What Will Scott Walker’s Legacy Be? - Bruce Murphy - Dec 6th, 2018
- Governor Walker: What Will Your Message To Gov.-Elect Evers Be? - State Sen. Tim Carpenter - Dec 6th, 2018
- WI & MI GOP Attempt to Undermine the Voice of Voters, Put Democracy and Safety at Risk - Democratic Attorneys General Association - Dec 6th, 2018
- Your Right to Know: Lame Duck Laws All About Secrecy - Dee J. Hall - Dec 5th, 2018
- Data Wonk: The Republican War Against Democracy - Bruce Thompson - Dec 5th, 2018
- Extraordinary Session Update: Legislature Approves Critical Reforms - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - Dec 5th, 2018
- Rep. Gwen Moore Statement on Republican Power Grab - U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore - Dec 5th, 2018
- Statement on Lame Duck Session - State Rep. Evan Goyke - Dec 5th, 2018
- Legislature Works Overnight To Curb Evers Power - Shawn Johnson and Laurel White - Dec 5th, 2018
- Governor-elect Tony Evers Statement on Extraordinary Session - Gov. Tony Evers - Dec 5th, 2018
- Republican’s Holiday Gift to Wisconsin: An Assault on Democracy - State Sen. Janis Ringhand - Dec 5th, 2018
- Unprecedented Power Grab Will Break Wisconsin for Years to Come - State Sen. Chris Larson - Dec 5th, 2018
- Senator Taylor Believes GOP Are Taking Career Ending Votes - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Dec 4th, 2018
- Bill Curbing Evers’ Power Moves to Legislature - Shawn Johnson and Laurel White - Dec 4th, 2018
- Extraordinary Session Policy Items Flying Under the Radar - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - Dec 4th, 2018
- Will Republican Legislature Risk Contempt With Scheme to Enact New Limits on Early Voting? - One Wisconsin Now - Dec 4th, 2018
- Representative Lisa Subeck Statement on the Extraordinary Session - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Dec 4th, 2018
- Power Tends to Corrupt, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely - State Rep. Jimmy Anderson - Dec 4th, 2018
- Governor-elect Tony Evers’ Testimony to the Joint Committee on Finance Opposing Extraordinary Session Legislation - Gov. Tony Evers - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Eight Days After November Election Republican Assembly Leader Robin Vos Requested New Restrictions on Early Voting - One Wisconsin Now - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Op Ed: GOP Bills Change 400 Sections of State Law - State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Rep. Brostoff Statement on Republican Effort to Override Will of Wisconsin Voters - State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Conservation Voters issue statement on lame duck bills - Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Evers Will Fight Plan to Limit His Power - Corri Hess - Dec 3rd, 2018
- GOP Lame Duck Session Targets Evers - Laurel White - Dec 3rd, 2018
- ACLU of Wisconsin’s Board of Directors condemns lame duck session - American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Stop the Wisconsin GOP power grab - Indivisible Madison - Dec 3rd, 2018
- Election defeat leads to GOP temper tantrum - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Nov 30th, 2018
- Vos Republicans: ‘Too Many People Voted’ - One Wisconsin Now - Nov 30th, 2018