July 24, 2014

Obey touts redistricting reform

Democrats taking their redistricting message across Wisconsin were in Marshfield and Wausau Friday. Former Congressman Dave Obey says redistricting is not meant to pile up partisan voters in one district to make reelection easier for incumbents.

“We want a system that has political accountability,” said Obey. “The problem is, that when you draft congressional districts or state legislative districts in a way that makes districts very safe for one party or another, some candidate can be a dead drunk for eight months out of twelve, and still get elected simply because his party is so heavily favored in that district that you couldn’t blow him out of there with dynamite.”

Wausau state Representative Mandy Wright supports taking redistricting away from the majority party, and giving it to the Legislative Audit Bureau. “I personally am convinced that without redistricting reform, those elected officials have less of an obligation to represent the greater good of the public,” Wright said. “They’re far more pressured to represent the extreme sides of their parties, because they know they’ll be primaried if they don’t.”

Obey is calling for a statewide referendum on the issue, which he insists is not partisan. “I don’t trust either party to play it straight,” he said. The Democrat-authored legislation is modeled after the redistricting process that’s been in place in Iowa for more than 30 years, and has garnered widespread support from local governments, and from voters across the Hawkeye State.

Democrats have been holding public listening sessions across the state, because they have not been granted a public hearing at the capital by majority Republicans.

Larry Lee, WSAU