Plug your ears. Pundits are going to over-analyze Democratic victories in Kentucky and Virginia.
Shocking defeat for President Donald Trump? Isolated losses with no bigger meaning? There’s a pundit out there with an opinion that will suit your preference. You just have to look.
However, Democrats and Republicans alike can learn a lesson from what happened in Virginia. There, Democrats swept the state houses and is in complete control of state government.
What is the real significance of the election? Let’s ask Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), a former governor of the state.
Yep. Republicans drew the maps in 2011, just like in Wisconsin, and the Democrats still won control. There is one interpretation of Tuesday’s results that should be bipartisan: Gerrymandering is just an excuse for losers.
Ironically, even as Democrats were kicking GOP butt, they were complaining about the unfairness of the legislative maps. Democrats in Virginia were even proposing a “bipartisan commission” to draw the lines for legislative districts after the 2020 census.
Now that the Democrats are in complete control in Virginia, don’t be shocked if they decide to just draw up maps favorable to themselves. At best, any “bipartisan” solution will be a fig leaf to hide the partisan nature of the new legislative district boundaries.
Fine. Republicans will just have to win on Democratic turf in Virginia, just as Trump did in 2016 by winning Wisconsin.
But, but, Democrats hate Gerrymandering, right? Surely they won’t redraw the maps solely to help themselves, right?
Tell that to Republicans in Maryland and Illinois who are still waiting for Eric Holder to show up to tell Democrats that gerrymandering legislative borders is wrong.
Or tell it to those Democrats in Wisconsin who were in complete control of state government in 2010 and looking forward to drawing favorable lines to ensure their dominance for a decade. There was no talk back then of a bipartisan commission to draw legislative boundaries.
Not until Republicans won a shocking victory and complete control of state government in November that year. Then Democrats in our state decided the redistricting process was “unfair.”
If Wisconsin Democrats want to win control of the legislature here, they are going to have to do a better job winning outside of Milwaukee and Madison. They did in 2018 when state Sen. Patty Schachtner (D-WI10) won in a special election in a district that went overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016. They can do it again – if they recruit good candidates.
But if they continue to field candidates who are too radical for the rest of Wisconsin, they will continue to remain in the minority. Democrats can blame the maps, but they should look in the mirror.