Rep. Joel Kitchens is one of three Republicans hoping to cool down a brewing battle over redistricting months before states even receive data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Both parties have sought redistricting reform for decades, but it has been a Democratic cause since the Republican-led state Legislature redrew the maps in 2011. Democrats charge that the maps have made election races uncompetitive in several districts with Republicans reaping the benefits. Several bills have been presented in recent sessions and the People’s Maps Commission was established by Governor Tony Evers in 2020 to address the issue. Supporters of redistricting reform say by switching to a different model like what is done in Iowa takes the maps out of the hands of politicians and into the hands of a non-partisan review board. Opponents say the process is unconstitutional and it should remain a duty of the state Legislature.
For the second time, Kitchens has joined Rep. Todd Novak and Rep. Todd Tranel as the only Republicans to support a bill calling for non-partisan redistricting to take place. Kitchens does not believe it will have a huge impact on the final result, but adds that many people just do not believe in the process anymore.
Without the review board in place, Kitchens is already predicting the new district maps will be up for the courts to decide. Unlike redistricting efforts in 2001 or 2011, the state government is divided between a Republican legislature and a Democratic administration. Democrats have gone to court over the 2011 maps but have been turned away by the courts along the way. Wisconsin Republicans were told in April they could not have private attorneys to help handle redistricting issues according to the Racine Journal Times.