For the last several years, the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board has made reforming redistricting a prominent part of their editorial agenda. Anytime the State Journal can find a GOP legislative candidate who claims to support non-partisan, independent redistricting, they promptly endorse them knowing full well they’ll never have the control or influence to bring any redistricting reform proposals to the floor of the legislature; the entrenched GOP leadership will always be the backstop to prevent any consideration of redistricting reform.
The State Journal apparently doesn’t mind though if the corrupt redistricting process helps elected another Republican member as it was designed to do. They are content that the GOP redistricting can keep a district in Republican hands.
The latest State Journal endorsement in a special election for the 42nd Assembly District highlights their view on redistricting. “The oddly drawn district — which was gerrymandered by top Republicans to protect [former Rep. Keith] Ripp in what had previously been one of the most competitive seats in the state — now favors Republicans.”
The State Journal endorses Republican Jon Plumber citing his support for redistricting reform, “Given that the 42nd District is shaped to favor Republicans, it’s encouraging to hear Plumer’s unequivocal support for a nonpartisan process of drawing legislative district lines following the 2020 census.” Again, never mind that he’s safe to have these views as Speaker Robin Vos will never let Plumber be in a position to have an impactful vote on the issue.
Conversely, the only apparent reason the Democrat shouldn’t be elected is that she is too liberal for the district. That’s right, she shouldn’t be elected because she lives in a district that Republicans gerrymanders to prevent a Democrat from winning. That has been the precise complaint of the State Journal about redistricting, that competitive districts have been re-drawn to allow only Republicans a chance to win. The State Journal writes about the Democratic candidate: “Groves Lloyd, who retired last week as a UW-Madison academic adviser, is polished and smart. She shares Plumer’s priorities of fixing roads and adopting fair maps. But her politics lean too far left for this district.”
The State Journal largely admits that these two candidates have similar priorities, even on redistricting, but since the gerrymander district is Republican then the Republican should be elected. How convenient is that?
I recognize the Democrats’ record on redistricting when they briefly controlled the legislature prior to the last redistricting is no better. But until Wisconsin legislative republicans actually start taking votes and actions towards changing the redistricting process, why does the State Journal keep giving them the benefit of the doubt. The next census will be quickly upon us with redistricting soon to follow. Despite the State Journal endorsements, no progress has been made towards reform.
The State Journal would be better to based their endorsements on the rest of the record of these candidates and not fool their readers into thinking that endorsing candidate like Jon Plumber is going to somehow bring about the reform they claim to want.
On the other hand, maybe it would be best if the State Journal got out of the endorsement process entirely when they end endorsements with vague, McCarthy sounding smears like they make against the Democrat claiming she “offered a vague response, for example, when asked if she is a socialist.” (I can only hope they asked Jon Plumber if he was a Russian oligarch or had the support of any.)
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