Madison has seen a shift in politics towards more liberal legislation over the past decade despite GOP majorities in the state senate and assembly, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Outcomes of recent local elections include wins for more liberal legislators including candidate for State Senate, Kelda Roys and candidate for State Assembly Francesca Hong. Hong will also be the first Asian American person to serve in the state legislature.
Hong was labeled an “outspoken liberal” by the Wisconsin State Journal, though she said her primary goal is to speak for the underrepresented communities of Wisconsin.
“If it is radical or liberal to speak to the basic needs of our communities like better wages, access to housing, universal health care, small business relief and a demand to have a response to a pandemic that is decimating and disintegrating our communities then so be it,” Hong said.
According to Hong’s policy webpage, she advocates for affordable higher education, climate initiatives and the expansion of Badgercare.
Hong said her first priority will be confronting the COVID-19 pandemic and providing relief to small businesses.
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“There are no other plans being presented by GOP leadership on how to have an economic recovery aside from reopening and continuing to disregard the fact we are in a pandemic,” Hong said.
According to Hong’s website, by combining philanthropic opportunities with economic relief for small businesses in need of long-term financial aid, Hong hopes to reinvigorate the Madison community both socially and economically.
Hong said Joe Biden’s election will mean economic relief for Wisconsin communities.
“With the Biden presidency, I see relief coming to our state and as a legislature, we can decide how those resources are allocated,” Hong said. “Then our local municipalities both at city and county levels have the resources to take care of their communities and start a recovery process.”
According to the Wisconsin State Legislature website, Republicans have held a majority in both chambers since 2011.
Former editor and publisher of the Progressive magazine and Executive Director at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign for the last six years Matthew Rothschild said Madison’s major political shift happened in 2010.
According to the National Governors Association, Democrat Jim Doyle held governorship from 2003 to 2011 and Democrats controlled the state senate and state assembly. Republican Scott Walker then served from 2011 to 2019 and Republicans took control of the state assembly and state senate.
The majority grew in the state senate by two seats in the Nov. 3 election when Democrats gained two seats in the state assembly, but there is still a Republican majority.
Young Progressives of UW-Madison vice president Jack Connors said the state legislature remained solidly red for nearly a decade as a result of extreme gerrymandering.
“After 2010, state legislature Republicans across the nation, but specifically in Wisconsin, gerrymandered themselves into power,” Connors said. “In Wisconsin, they are considered to be some of the worst in terms of ignoring democratic norms, blatant power grabbing, etcetera”
In the 2020 General Election, the GOP pushed to flip the state assembly and state senate to create a supermajority allowing them to overrule the Governor’s veto power.
The GOP fell one vote short in the senate and five votes short in the assembly, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
According to Rothschild, a Republican supermajority would have effectively eliminated Gov. Tony Evers’ power.
The People’s Maps Commission, created by Evers, is pushing for a nonpartisan redistricting commission, comprised of the people of Wisconsin — not elected officials, not lobbyists and not political party officials — who will draw the maps to combat this phenomenon.
Hong believes Wisconsin’s shift from red to blue started with the presidential election in which Donald Trump was elected.
“Wisconsin shifting blue was a product of grassroots organizations and communities of color working to get their communities civically engaged starting in 2016,” Hong said. “They continue to not receive credit for the fact that their votes are the ones that count.”
Rothschild said he believes Biden will help rebuild what he described as a fragile democracy.
“To have Biden there gives us the ability to fall asleep at night knowing that the constitution isn’t going to be shot in the heart while we are asleep,” Rothschild said. “That’s a big thing.”