Amid protests and accusations of a power grab, the Republican-led Wisconsin legislature approved a package of measures Wednesday intended to curb the authority of the U.S. state’s newly-elected, incoming Democratic governor.
Democrat Tony Evers defeated incumbent Governor Scott Walker in the November midterm elections — a stinging loss for the GOP in a key swing state that helped Donald Trump win the presidency in 2016.
Republican lawmakers, who hold a majority in the state legislature, approved a package of bills to curtail the incoming governor’s ability to set certain rules and policies after he is sworn into office in January.
The measures also reset the 2020 primary election date and reduce the length of early voting — efforts seen as helpful to future Republican candidates.
Critics said the bills were part of a concerted effort by Republicans in several states, where they control the legislature but have lost executive offices, to deny power to incoming Democrats.
Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers calls the Republicans' attempt to strip the incoming leaders of key powers "embarrassing," adding that "this is bad public policy and it's telling the people of Wisconsin that their vote doesn't count." https://t.co/aHTw6mnHdI pic.twitter.com/sgELVGe7ys
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) December 5, 2018
A similar political fight was shaping up in Michigan, another Midwestern state with a newly-elected Democratic governor who is replacing a Republican.
The political maneuvering could have profound effects on issues such as the fate of the Affordable Care Act.
“After these antics, the Republican legacy will be one of corruption, dishonesty, and misplaced priorities,” tweeted Wisconsin Democrat Jennifer Shilling, the minority leader in the state senate.
Republicans defended their actions as intended to codify into law a more active role for the state’s GOP-led legislature and creating a more balanced power dynamic with the governor’s office.
“Democrats have been exaggerating and resorting to hyperbole throughout the debate,” state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos tweeted.
But crowds of protesters descended on the state capitol in Madison in repudiation, shouting “shame” and booing lawmakers inside.
Despite the furious response, Republicans pressed ahead Tuesday evening — passing their package of bills in the state senate in the early morning hours Wednesday and later in the morning in the state assembly.
Walker has signaled he would likely sign the measures into law.
If he does, the incoming governor and attorney general, also a Democrat whose powers would be curbed, promised to challenge the new laws in court.
Because they lost the election Wisconsin Republicans now seek to limit early voting, lock in gerrymandering, move Supreme Court election, strip powers from Tony Evers and Josh Kaul-all in a lame-duck session. Shameful. Fight this Wisconsin! Be heard. https://t.co/F0z4MX0xht
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) December 2, 2018