There are two types of Democrats: Those that talk tough, and those that are actually willing to fight. There are far too many of the former already, and unfortunately, we know that at the very least, new Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers does not belong in the latter camp.
Yesterday, the newly elected governor drew cheers and many, many upvotes when he said that he would be ignoring at least some of the ridiculous, restrictive laws passed by Republicans during a dirty lame-duck session last month. He had won a lawsuit against the power-grab that Republicans had enacted against him when he was the state’s school superintendent, so this didn’t seem like that unusual a statement for him.
Turns out, when he said that he expected to be sued, he didn’t mean for non-compliance. Instead, he says he was suggesting that outside groups might sue the state (ie him) to lift the restrictions on his power (something he’d welcome, but won’t do himself). Via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
“I have no intent of breaking the law,” Evers told reporters at a news conference Thursday.
The incoming Democratic governor said he believed he would be sued not by detractors trying to force him to follow the laws passed in a lame-duck session but by supporters who want to get him out from under the laws. Provisions of those laws will limit his ability to write state rules and oversee economic development.
“I personally have reviewed (the new laws) and reviewed them with attorneys and other legal staff,” Evers said. “We haven’t decided what to do personally. It’s just that in my experience that when this happens, it likely will happen from the outside.”
This comes after (expected) Republican backlash to his comments. Perhaps he’s trying to make peace before the legislative session, or maybe not show his hand (or, pull it back, as it were). Either way, he will follow the laws, he says, until a court strikes them down.
Already, there are lawsuits flying over the lame-duck legislation. Eric Holder’s group is behind one of two lawsuits challenging the restrictions that Republicans put on early voting, and other groups have threatened to sue over the restrictions on the executive branch’s ability to respond to lawsuits, control the reviled Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., and other crucial tasks they were more than happy to have Scott Walker perform.
As I noted yesterday, the upcoming Supreme Court elections in Wisconsin will be crucial:
Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has two big elections these next two years, which could make a big difference in how the lawsuits over executive power are decided. This spring, liberals will defend the seat of a retiring justice, and in 2020, a conservative seat will be open for the taking.
In this spring’s election, the stakes will be especially high; though it’s technically non-partisan, Republican-backed candidate Brian Hagedorn was Walker’s chief legal adviser before Walker appointed him to the District 2 Court of Appeals. His Democratic-backed opponent, Lisa Neubauer, also sits on the court.
Evers does have an ambitious agenda, whether he challenges/ignores the lame-duck laws or not. As the Journal-Sentinel outlined yesterday, he wants to “expand health insurance coverage under the ACA; allow illegal immigrants to qualify for driver’s cards; give immigrants who came to the state illegally as children the chance to pay in-state tuition; and allow property taxes to rise by more than they have in the past.”
Keep an eye on Wisconsin for some true fireworks.
For more stories like this one about state politics, progressive activism, and crucial updates on policies that matter, subscribe to the free Progressives Everywhere newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t bombard your inbox!