The new political maps proposed by Gov. Tony Evers and enacted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court will likely help Wisconsin Democrats claim a few new legislative seats, but an analysis by WisPolitics.com found the new district lines will also force some Republican lawmakers to run against each other for re-election.
Sens. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield); Reps. Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego) and Cody Horlacher (R-Mukwonago); and Reps. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) and Barb Dittirch (R-Oconomowoc) will be moved into the same legislative districts, WisPolitics found.
In Wisconsin, lawmakers must have a primary residence within the district they represent by the time they take office, and remain living within their district while they are elected. Because of this, three of these suburban Milwaukee lawmakers will have to overcome each other in addition to a presumptive Democratic challenger to stay in office, while the other three will be forced out of a job.
When Republicans redrew the political maps heavily in their favor in 2011, they made drastic changes, forcing 11 pairs of lawmakers into the same districts.Those maps cemented Republican control of the Legislature for a decade by packing Democrats into as few districts as possible while putting likely Republican voters into as many districts as possible, a process known as gerrymandering.
Zimmerman Still Won’t Live in His District
While a handful of lawmakers will be moved into new districts, the same cannot be said for Rep. Shannon Zimmeran (R-River Falls).
As has been the case since 2016, the house Zimmerman has claimed as his primary residence on tax forms will continue to be outside of the 30th Assembly District that he represents, an apparent violation of a state law that requires state elected officials to live in their districts.
According to the new election maps, the $600,000 home in the Pierce County town of Clifton that Zimmerman lists as his primary residence is not part of the Assembly district to which he was elected.
Zimmerman uses a $200,000 home in River Falls, within his district, as his address for political purposes. He said he resides there with his adult son, but many people in his district contend he lives in the Clifton home across the street from a winery he owns.
Zimmerman presumably won’t be forced to change his primary residence outside after the Wisconsin Elections Commission last year dismissed three complaints alleging that he did not live in his district. He called the complaints against him “frivolous.”
Whether Zimmerman lives in his district has been up for debate since shortly after he was elected to the Assembly six years ago. He has identified his out-of-district home in Clifton as his primary residence for nearly two decades, and his wife, Angela, uses that home as her address for voting purposes. In addition, the couple listed their Clifton address as their home in paperwork filed in Florida for condominiums there.
Sarah Yacoub, a Hudson attorney who lost to Zimmeran in the 2020 election, said Republicans’ claims about election fraud in the 2020 presidential election are ironic given the fact that Zimmerman is allowed to flout the law.
“Even with the new maps, Shannon still does not reside in the district in which he votes and represents,” she said.