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Sunday, April 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 73.0° F  Overcast
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Democrats expect GOP to rush through Wisconsin redistricting plan

Kessler: Republicans 'are going to get greedy.'
Kessler: Republicans 'are going to get greedy.'
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State Rep. Fred Kessler has his eye on the cookie jar.

Any day now, he expects the Republicans to reach deep inside of it.

"They're going to get greedy, and they might try to take too much," Kessler says. "And that opens them up to challenge."

What Kessler (D-Milwaukee) and other Democrats expect the Republican leadership to do is introduce a redistricting plan while they still control the Legislature. Overseeing the redistricting plan could allow them to hold onto power beyond the next election cycle.

"I've actually heard that [Rep. Jeff] Fitzgerald has maps in his office he's been showing to people," says Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Madison). "He hasn't shown them to me, obviously."

In an attempt to forestall the rumored plan and ensure a fair process, Hulsey and others are sponsoring(PDF) legislation that would turn the redistricting over to the Legislative Reference Bureau and the Government Accountability Board.

"It's implausible for a doctor to perform surgery on themselves," Hulsey says. "This is basically what the Legislature is doing now with redistricting."

A spokesman from Fitzgerald's office did not return a phone call for comment.

The redistricting process traditionally starts from the ground up, as counties and municipalities redraw local voting wards. These maps are then given to the Legislature, which uses them as the basis for legislative districts.

When the legislative power is divided between the parties, the process usually ends up being decided in court, says Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which filed an open records request Tuesday for all redistricting plans in the works.

"We've never had redistricting done this early," McCabe says. "There's only one reason they'd jump the gun and do it this early. It's to retain total control of the redistricting process. And they may lose total control in just a few weeks" with the Senate recall elections.

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