UPDATE: 52 of 99 Assembly candidates face no major party opposit - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: 52 of 99 Assembly candidates face no major party opposition in November

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Come next January, more than half of the seats in the Wisconsin Assembly will be filled by state representatives who are already done campaigning for the year.

52 of 99 Assembly candidates are facing no major party challenger on November 4th.  That is double the amount of unopposed candidates from just two years ago.
  
"The real losers are voters, because there's not a real choice," said Jay Heck, Executive Director of the citizen advocacy group Common Cause Wisconsin.  "And this was the result of the 2011 redistricting process, which was the most partisan, gerrymandered system in Wisconsin's history."
   
Heck, who has long advocated for non-partisan redistricting, told 27 News it is actually surprising the Republican gerrymandering didn't result in more uncontested seats.

"Only 15 of the 99 Assembly seats and roughly 4 of 33 (in the Senate) are truly competitive, if you had candidates filling both Republican and Democratic," said Heck.

But at least in the Senate, only three candidates are running without major party opposition this fall.

Democrats are not blameless on the issue.  They had a chance to put non-partisan redistricting in place when they controlled the Governor's office and both houses of the legislature in 2009-10.

"The arrogance of the Democratic leaders in 2010 was such that - 'we're going to control this after these elections and we want to be in charge of the redistricting process,'" said Heck.  "But that doesn't make it right that the Republicans would follow suit."

But follow suit they did, and the chances of changing the process look slim to none.  Senate and Assembly Democrats both put forth bills during the last legislative session that called for establishing a non-partisan state redistricting board, but Republican leaders refused to give those bills a public hearing.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- More than half of the candidates running for State Assembly will not face a general election opponent in November.

52 of the 99 districts feature candidates from only one party, with 29 Republicans and 23 Democrats running unopposed. 

It is that type of uncompetitive democracy in Wisconsin that has several different groups calling for redistricting reform, including Common Cause Wisconsin.  Executive Director Jay Heck has repeatedly asked legislative leaders to pass a bill that would create a non-partisan redistricting board.

In Wisconsin, the state legislature controls the drawing of new legislative and congressional district maps every ten years.  After gaining a majority in both houses in 2010, Republicans were able to redraw the maps to be more in their favor in 2011.

Separate Assembly and Senate bills introduced by Democrats in the last legislative session never got a public hearing from Republican leaders.  But in 2009, Democratic legislative leaders declined to pass a similar bill.

The State Senate is far more competitive, with only candidates in three of 33 districts running unopposed.  But critics have argued more equitable maps would allow most of those districts and the state's seven congressional districts to be more competitive.
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