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Avlon: MI, WI GOP holding a 'legislative coup'

CNN's John Avlon slams efforts by the Wisconsin and Michigan GOP to reduce the power of incoming Democratic governors by pushing through a series of bills during the year-end "lame duck" legislative session.

Posted: Dec 6, 2018 11:28 PM
Updated: Dec 6, 2018 11:43 PM

Elections have consequences.

That adage, which has long been part of the bedrock of our democracy, doesn't appear to be the case anymore -- at least in Wisconsin.

Earlier this week, the Republican-held state legislature passed a series of measures aimed at tying the hands of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general. Among them, from CNN's report:

"Wisconsin is now expected to reduce its number of early voting days, restrict gubernatorial influence over a powerful economic agency [Democratic Gov-elect Tony] Evers sought to disband, and require legislative backing for certain decisions traditionally made by the attorney general and governor -- a move that would likely block [Democratic Attorney General-Elect John] Kaul from pulling the state out of a federal lawsuit against Obamacare. The legislature will also be able to hire its own lawyers to defend state law in court, diminishing the attorney general's power."

Make no mistake about what's happening here: Republicans in Wisconsin are trying to undo the results of the 2018 election. They don't like the idea of Democrats being given the same power over the state they enjoyed when they won the governorship and the attorney general's office so they are acting in a lame-duck session to take away those powers.

It's literally the opposite of the democratic process.

That this is happening in Wisconsin is not at all surprising. Despite its Midwestern reputation, there is no state that has become more polarized along partisan lines over the past decade than the Badger State.

It all began with the election of Gov. Scott Walker, the man Evers beat last month, in 2010. A month into Walker's first term, he moved to end collective bargaining rights for public sector unions. The national labor movement immediately mobilized, casting the fight over Act 10 as the defining political skirmish for this generation of unions members. Protesters mobbed the Wisconsin state capitol in an attempt to keep the legislation from passing through the GOP-controlled chamber. Democratic state senators decamped to Illinois to try to keep the bill from going through. Despite all of that, Act 10 became law.

The political consequences were vast. Recall efforts were launched against Walker and the Republican state senators who voted for the bill. Walker, against all odds, won the recall election -- which had become a sort of pre-presidential test for both parties in advance of the 2012 election. (More than $80 million was spent on the contest.)

Walker won, again, narrowly in 2014 -- as the deep partisan riff in the state only worsened. His defeat in 2018 in a quest for a third term (and in his fourth race in eight years) was a massive victory for national Democrats who had grown to loathe the Wisconsin governor not the least of which for his seeming invincibility to their electoral challenges. (Walker, in the middle of his second term, ran a disastrous -- but mercifully short -- campaign for president.)

Add it all up and you get this: There is zero love lost between Republicans and Democrats in Wisconsin. And in that sort of climate, anything goes.

Said state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) about his side's move: "I want people to understand that, that there's going to be a divide between the legislative and executive branch."

Which, said another way, goes like this: I want people to know the state legislature is controlled by Republicans, and the governor's mansion ain't. (Wisconsin Republicans will continue to control the state Senate and state House in 2019.)

The other reason Wisconsin Republicans are doing this is because they believe that, ultimately, voters won't really care. That changing rules of who has marginally more power over various functions of the state government, they clearly believe, isn't the sort of stuff that will blow up in their faces. Or that even if it does, it might be worth making the changes anyway -- given the policy stakes.

Unfortunately, there's both some precedent for this move and some suggestion that the supposition that voters won't care much may be right. Following their loss in the governor's race in the 2016 election, North Carolina statehouse Republicans pushed through legislative measures to curtail the incoming Democratic governor's power. Defeated Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed the measure on his way out of office. And Republicans still control the North Carolina House and Senate. No harm, big foul.

Politics is a copycat game. If something works in one race or one state, you can be sure that someone else in another race or another state will try it. What Republicans are doing in Wisconsin then isn't the final instance of this end-run of democracy. It's likely a progenitor of many more attempts like it to come.

Which is bad. If you like democracy, that is.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
Copiah56615
Leake54819
Jackson53316
Holmes52741
Wayne52112
Washington4969
Lee49316
Oktibbeha48624
Yazoo4736
Leflore47249
Lowndes45311
Warren44317
Lincoln43534
Lamar4197
Grenada3805
Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
Lafayette3524
Newton3289
Sunflower3066
Covington3025
Bolivar27713
Panola2706
Adams26718
Chickasaw25918
Tate2577
Jasper2506
Marion24811
Pontotoc2476
Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
Yalobusha1617
Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 38442

Reported Deaths: 947
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4446
Houston4344
Limestone4090
Cullman4003
Pike3995
Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
Conecuh1804
Bibb1711
Macon1708
Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
Crenshaw1233
Lawrence1010
Washington1007
Cherokee747
Lamar711
Fayette671
Geneva670
Clay582
Coosa551
Cleburne291
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