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Redistricting maps signed by Gov. Evers
Wis. GOP approved Evers-drawn maps last week; area districts impacted
Maps via CARTO/Marquette University Law School

MADISON — Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed into law new legislative maps on Monday, Feb. 19. The redistricting maps were approved by the Republican-controlled branches of Legislature last week. 

“This is a great day for Wisconsin, and there is much to celebrate,” Evers said. “And we’re not going to stop here. I — and we — are going to continue our fight for a fair, independent, and nonpartisan redistricting process for Wisconsin.”

The signing signals a potential victory for Evers and state Democrats. The past two redistricting sessions in 2011 and 2021 have been controlled by Republicans and have led to what have become some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country, according to political analysts. 

Gov. Evers also submitted an official letter to the Wisconsin Supreme Court asking it to retain jurisdiction over this matter to resolve remaining issues, specifically which maps will apply to special elections occurring prior to the November 2024 General Election.

Despite a recent history of the state slightly leaning blue in favor of Democrats — though Wisconsin is still a clear swing state — the Republican grasp on power grew to a point where it held a super-majority (two-thirds) of both the State Assembly and State Senate. The super-majority has allowed the Legislature to all but work around the governor’s office on many bills — including women’s rights, educational funding, and the state budget among them.

A History of Purple

The state has shown a blue swing since Donald Trump’s narrow 23,000-vote victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. 

Evers ousted incumbent Gov. Scott Walker in 2018 by about 29,000 votes in the same election that saw U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin reclaim her seat in Washington by 288,000 votes. In 2020, Wisconsin narrowly leaned blue in favor of Joe Biden, by just under 21,000 votes, for U.S. President over Trump. 

In 2022, the state was fully purple on the political map as Evers was re-elected governor  by 90,000 votes — a key victory for Democrats — with conservative Sen. Ron Johnson also getting re-elected by just under 27,000 votes. 

A Left-Leaning State Supreme Court

In the spring of 2023, the state’s voters picked liberal Wisconsin State Supreme Court candidate, Janet Protasiewicz, over the conservative supreme court candidate, Daniel Kelly, by more than 11%. Protasiewicz partially campaigned on the notion of Wisconsin’s heavily red redistricting tilt. 

Her victory pushed the court into the liberals’ favor, 4-3. Once she was sworn into office, a legal challenge claiming the GOP’s redistricting maps to be unconstitutionally gerrymandered came to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

In December 2023, the state supreme court agreed with the lawsuit that the GOP’s maps were unconstitutional, and demanded new maps be drawn in a timely manner. 

The court allowed multiple maps to be drawn for consideration. According to analysts at Marquette University Law School, the map Evers submitted to the court could likely shrink the GOP hold on power from a super-majority to something closer to a 50/50 split, albeit with a still-likely red tilt.

“When I promised I wanted fair maps — not maps that are better for one party or another — I damn well meant it,” Evers wrote on social media after signing the bill. “The people should get to choose their elected officials, not the other way around. And under the maps I’m signing today, I am making good on that promise.”

Other maps submitted by liberal groups swung to a Democratic majority, while maps drawn by conservative groups and the Legislature kept the hard right majority intact.

If no agreement could be met between Evers and Republicans, the court itself could either choose a submitted map or draw their own.

That led the Wisconsin GOP to reconsider its options and choose Evers’ map. Some on the left urged Evers to veto the decision, hopeful the court would pick one of the more liberal maps. Instead, Evers went through with his promise that he would sign the bill if it meant the maps went into effect for the Fall 2024 elections.

“That’s the great thing about democracy, folks,” Evers said. “Sometimes people have different opinions on various things and I just accept that. My goal is to make sure that the will of the people is the law of the land.”

Changes Across the Board, and Locally

The new maps entirely redraw southwestern Wisconsin’s districts. Currently, across much of Grant, Lafayette and Green Counties, Republicans hold seats in both the Assembly (Todd Novak, 51st; Travis Tranel, 49th) and State Senate (Howard Marklein, 17th). According to analysts at Marquette Law School, of the potential new maps, all three districts could turn blue.

“I was elected to represent the 17th Senate District and that is what I intend to do,” Marklein told the Grant County Herald Independent on Monday.

However, Marklein’s home address will no longer be in the 17th District.

The 17th Senate District features the largest changes. The 17th previously included all of Grant, Lafayette, Richland and Juneau counties, southwestern Green County, central and western Iowa County, western Sauk County and part of eastern Vernon County.

The new 17th Senate District includes Grant, Lafayette, Iowa, Green and Crawford counties, plus southwestern Dane County. Eastern Iowa County and northern Green County previously were in the 27th Senate District. Eastern Green County previously was in the 15th Senate District.

Richland County and counties to the east will be in the new 14th Senate District, which previously covered central and east-central Wisconsin. That means Vernon County voters will choose a new senator in November, because even-numbered Senate districts have elections during presidential-election years. Odd-numbered Senate districts have elections during gubernatorial-election years.

Substantial changes are taking place in area Assembly districts. The 49th Assembly District, which previously included all of Grant County, loses its northeast corner, plus Cuba City and Hazel Green, to the 51st Assembly District, but takes Crawford County from the 96th Assembly District.

“With the changing makeup of the Legislature, I am concerned for the dilution of rural voices but remain committed to working hard every day for the people of Southwest Wisconsin,” said Tranel (R-Town of Hazel Green).

The 51st Assembly District currently covers almost all of Lafayette County, and two-thirds of Iowa County, as well as one-third of Richland, one-quarter of Sauk and one-quarter of Green. The new maps would have it covering all of Lafayette and Iowa counties, plus a small part of Dane and the northeastern portion of Grant, which could be a clear shift to Democratic control.

“The new 51st Assembly District still maintains the core of my current district,” said Rep. Todd Novak (R–Dodgeville). “I still have Lafayette County, will have all of Iowa County instead of just half, and pick up part of the northern part of Grant County along with Cuba City and Hazel Green. Iowa and Grant county voters already know me so to me that’s just an extension of the voters I already represent. 

“The 51st also picks up part of Dane County, Mount Horeb and Blue Mounds, which I’m not sure what will have in common with the rest of the 51st, but I look forward to representing the Dane County part.”

Novak seems undaunted by the redistricting changes.

“I’m no stranger to tough elections and my current district is considered a Democrat district,” he said. “I’m usually the only Republican at the state and federal level who wins the 51st. In 2022, I won by 12 points along with Gov. Evers, who won it by 8 points. We live in a very swingy ticket-splitting area of the state.”

The new 50th District would cover all of Green County and a southern portion of Dane. Green County has been split between the 49th, 15th, and 27th districts. 

Senator Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) would see his District 15 seat change, moving out of the eastern portion of Green County and the southeastern part of Dane County, while moving into Walworth and Jefferson Counties.

In a lengthy statement after Evers signed the bill, Spreitzer was happy for the state to be able to look forward, rather than focus his own changing district.

“I thank Governor Evers for his diligent review of this bill and the legal impact of enacting fair maps through the legislative process. I trust the Governor and his legal team have made the best decision for fair maps and for the people of Wisconsin,” Spreitzer said. “The signing of Act 94 ends the lengthy legal battle that has been fought over redistricting in Wisconsin, and it reaffirms the need to enact a better redistricting process into law. ... Fair maps should be a constitutional guarantee in Wisconsin.”

Reaction From Leaders

Among those reacting to the newly signed legislative maps was U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (WI-02), a Democrat.

“Having fairer and more representative legislative district maps than the Republican gerrymandered map is a win for democracy,” Pocan said. “However, if a lawsuit is filed in the 7th Circuit challenging these new maps, the GOP Legislature must commit to defending them in court, just as they’ve promised not to challenge them. It’s now their maps. Further, this makes fair federal maps even more important, as the Legislature only dealt with state maps. The Wisconsin State Supreme Court must act soon and enact fair congressional maps.”

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) was less enthused. He conceded that the maps “were not perfect”, but went so far as to claim the maps were gerrymandered in Democrats’ favor.

“The liberal majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s primary objective has been to benefit legislative Democrats to the greatest extent possible. [T]hese maps have the most competitive districts of the remaining maps the court was considering,” LeMahieu said. “Senate Republicans have won competitive races for 20 years. We don’t plan on stopping now. The Governor’s action today will end the pending redistricting case and provide voters and election officials certainty ahead of the 2024 election.”

After Republicans voted to pass Evers maps on Feb. 13, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos admitted that the Legislature would be up for grabs under the new maps.

“It pains me to say it, but Gov. Evers gets a huge win today,” Vos said.

— Additional reporting from Morris Media of Wisconsin members David Timmerman (Herald Independent), Steve Prestegard (Platteville Journal), Jason Kreul (Fennimore Times) and Charley Preusser (Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout).

Wisconsin’s New 2024 Incumbent Pairings


■ Sens. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, and John Jagler, R-Watertown

■ Sens. Julian Bradley, R-Franklin, and Van Vanggaard, R-Racine

■ Sens. Melissa Agard, D-Madison, and Kelda Roys, D-Madison

■ Sens. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, Eric Wimberger, R-Green Bay, and Andre Jacque, R-De Pere

■ Sens. Jesse James, R-Altoona, and Jeff Smith, D-Brunswick

■ Sens. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown, and Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville


■ Reps. Tom Michalski, R-Elm Grove, and Robyn Vining, D-Wauwatosa

■ Reps. John Macco, R-Ledgeview, and Shae Sortwell, R-Two Rivers

■ Reps. Amy Binsfeld, R-Sheboygan, and Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc

■ Reps. Ty Bodden, R-Hilbert, and Ron Tusler, R-Harrison

■ Reps. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, and Amanda Nedewski, R-Pleasant Prairie

■ Reps. Elijah Behnke, R-Oconto, and David Steffen, R-Green Bay

■ Reps. William Penterman, R-Columbus, and Jon Plumer, R-Lodi

■ Reps. Nate Gustafson, R-Fox Crossing, and Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh

■ Reps. James Edming, R-Glen Flora, and Rob Summerfield, R-Bloomer

■ Reps. Bob Donovan, R-Greenfield, and Daniel Riemer, D-Milwaukee

■ Reps. Mike Bare, D-Verona, and Alex Joers, D-Middleton

■ Reps. Nik Rettinger, R-Mukwonago, and Chuck Wichgers, R-Muskego

■ Reps. Donna Rozar, R-Marshfield, and John Spiros, R-Marshfield

■ Reps. Jodi Emerson, D-Eau Claire, and Karen Hurd, R-Fall Creek

■ Reps. Cindi Duchow, R-Town of Delafield, and Scott Johnson R-Jefferson