Wisconsin Democrats are still fighting to overcome Scott Walker's 'ugly political legacy': report

Wisconsin Democrats are still fighting to overcome Scott Walker's 'ugly political legacy': report
Scott Walker in 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

Wisconsin Democrats have been feeling energized since April 4, which found liberal Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz defeating far-right MAGA Republican Dan Kelly by 11 percent in a race for a seat on the state's supreme court. Technically, it was a nonpartisan race, but Democratic strategists aggressively fundraised for Protasiewicz while MAGA Republicans rallied around Kelly.

One of Kelly's best-known GOP supporters was former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. In the end, however, Walker was unable to save Kelly from a double-digit loss.

Journalist John Nichols, in an article published by The Nation on April 11, emphasizes that the race was not only a loss for Kelly — it was also a loss for Walker.

READ MORE: Liberal victory in Wisconsin Supreme Court race is a 'five-alarm warning to Republicans': WSJ editorial board

Nichols observes, "Protasiewicz's victory flipped control of the (Wisconsin Supreme) Court from a 4-3 conservative majority, which for more than a decade had served as a rubber stamp for agendas advanced by Walker and his right-wing allies in the state legislature, to a 4-3 liberal majority that can now revisit the contentious cases of the Walker era and its aftermath…. Drawing a clear line of distinction from Kelly and other conservatives, she ran as a supporter of reproductive rights, voting rights, and the replacement of gerrymandered election lines with fair maps."

Following Kelly's loss, Walker told Fox News, "The larger issue here is younger voters. This is years of liberal indoctrination coming home to roost, and we've got to turn it around if we're going to win again."

Wisconsin was once considered a deep blue state; 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Mike Dukakis lost a lot of states, but he won Wisconsin. Republicans, however, gained much ground in that state during the Barack Obama years, which found Walker winning in 2010 and 2014 and far-right Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) winning in 2010 and 2016.

These days, Wisconsin is much more of a swing state than it was during the 1980s or 1990s. Former President Donald Trump carried Wisconsin in 2016 but lost it in 2020. And the 2022 midterms found Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Johnson both being reelected.

READ MORE: Abortion rights enjoy a double-digit victory in contentious Wisconsin Supreme Court race

Wisconsin Democrats, Nichols notes, are still trying to overcome the damage inflicted during the Walker years.

"The ugliest political legacy of the Walker era was the radical gerrymandering of the state's legislative district maps, which locked in Republican majorities in the legislature that could not be broken even when Democrats renewed their fortunes and notched up a string of victories at every level of state and federal government, culminating in (President Joe) Biden's winning the state back from Trump in 2020 and Gov. Tony Evers' successful 2022 reelection campaign," Nichols explains. "Gerrymandering is still wreaking havoc…. The fight for Wisconsin goes on, but last week's election was a critical juncture."

READ MORE: How a Wisconsin Supreme Court race previews the abortion battles that lie ahead in 2024: conservative

Read The Nation’s full article at this link.

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