Daily Bread for 1.9.23: Wisconsin’s Near-Death Experience

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 40. Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 4:39 PM for 9h 15m 27s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 94.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Planning Commission meets at 6 PM. 

 On this day in 1962, NASA announces plans to build the C-5 rocket launch vehicle, then known as the “Advanced Saturn,” to carry human beings to the Moon.

Ari Berman writes How Democracy Nearly Died in Wisconsin

If the redistricting maps drawn in secret by Republican staffers and passed by the GOP-controlled legislature in 2011 were unfair, the maps adopted by Republicans in 2021, over Evers’ objections, were even more one-sided. As a result, the number of GOP-leaning seats increased to 63 out of 99 in the state Assembly and to 23 out of 33 in the state Senate. That meant that—­according to calculations by Marquette University Law School research fellow John Johnson—Democrats would have to win the 2022 statewide vote by 12 points just to get to 50 seats in the Assembly, while Republicans could garner a majority with only 44 percent of the vote.

At the state GOP convention back in May, held at a Marriott in suburban Madison, GOP Assembly leader Robin Vos candidly laid out his plan for total domination of state politics. His top priority, he said, was defeating Evers. But short of that, if Republicans picked up one more seat in the Senate and five in the Assembly, Vos explained, that would give them a two-thirds supermajority that would “make Tony Evers irrelevant.”

That supermajority would have given legislative Republicans unfettered authority to override Evers’ vetoes and the power to implement an extreme and unpopular agenda on issues ranging from guns to education to abortion—including, potentially, the ability to overturn election results. “If Republicans get supermajorities in the state legislature,” Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler warned before the election, “it’s a threat to the foundations of American democracy.”

On November 8, Vos’ first plan failed. Evers was reelected by 3.5 points—triple his margin in 2018 and practically a landslide by Wisconsin standards—marking the first time since 1962 that Wisconsin had voted for a Democratic governor while a Democratic president was in office. But Vos’ backup plan almost succeeded: Despite Democrats winning four out of five statewide offices, Republicans picked up the state Senate seat they needed and ended up just two Assembly seats short of a supermajority, coming remarkably close to nullifying the power of the twice-elected governor.

In a year in which seemingly the entire GOP radicalized against democracy, Republicans in Wisconsin were on the cutting edge of attacking free and fair elections. Donald Trump had made the state the focal point of his obsession to decertify the 2020 election; nearly three-quarters of Republicans in the legislature acted to discredit or overturn the results; and critics of the way elections are conducted in Wisconsin ran for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. That was just the beginning of their plans. The GOP hoped to wrest control away from the bipartisan commission that supervises elections and turn it over to the ultra-gerrymandered legislature, which could give it more power over how elections are certified. That could’ve allowed Republicans to toss aside election results in 2024 through more sophisticated and ostensibly legal means than Trump used in 2020.

A place nearly drowned yet saved.  

‘Flying boat’ makes waves at CES:

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