Competition on Upswing in Legislature

In this update: 1. Fierce fight brewing for control of Capitol 2. Regional reform network looking for director 3. War against ’judicial activism’ begets judicial activism Competition on Upswing in Legislature

Email date: 7/7/08

In this update:
1. Fierce fight brewing for control of Capitol
2. Regional reform network looking for director
3. War against ‘judicial activism’ begets judicial activism

The close of business tomorrow is the deadline for filing the necessary paperwork to run for the state Legislature. It is already apparent that more people are running this year. In fact, it looks like the largest crop of candidates in more than a decade.

One reason for the upsurge in candidacies is that both houses of the Legislature are up for grabs. Democrats only need to gain three seats in the Assembly to take control of the lower house for the first time in a decade and a half. Republicans only need two to regain control of the Senate.

Control of the Legislature always is a much sought-after prize. But that’s particularly true at the end of a decade. Who controls the Legislature at the turn of a decade controls how legislative districts are redrawn. Controlling redistricting gives a party a leg up on controlling the Legislature for the next 10 years.

Redistricting is already very much on the minds of the politicians. Which is why it needs to be on the minds of citizens. The Brennan Center for Justice just released an excellent primer on redistricting that can help voters navigate what has long been an arcane insiders’ game. And not a moment too soon.

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The Midwest Democracy Network, a five-state regional alliance of reform groups that includes the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, is in the market for an executive director.

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Voters were told the last two state Supreme Court elections were about two things: fighting crime and ridding the court of "activist" judges who legislate from the bench. You’d have thought we were electing a sheriff or district attorney with all the emphasis on street crime in the last two high court campaigns, even though conducting criminal trials and sentencing convicts has never been the Supreme Court’s job. As for ending the supposed scourge of judicial activism, the new traditionalist court is proving adept at the very thing we were told would stop - legislating from the bench.

The irony and hypocrisy in the war on "activist" judges is the subject of our latest Big Money Blog.