MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The GOP-controlled Wisconsin Senate on Tuesday approved legislative maps proposed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, a move designed to prevent the liberal-controlled state Supreme Court from implementing maps that They could be even worse for Republicans. .

The Assembly was expected to pass the bill later Tuesday, which would then send it to Evers. Last week, he promised to sign his maps into law if the Legislature approved them without changes.

The political stakes are high in the presidential battleground state, where Republicans have had firm control of the Legislature since 2011, even as Democrats won statewide elections, including for governor in 2018 and 2022.

Democrats said the Wisconsin Supreme Court should be allowed to implement the maps, arguing against adopting the Democratic governor’s proposed maps. Republicans said voting for Evers’ maps, rather than waiting for the state Supreme Court to install maps that could be even better for Democrats, was the last best option they had left.

“Republicans were not caught between a rock and a hard place,” Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard said in a statement. “It was about choosing between being stabbed, shot, poisoned or taken to the guillotine. “We choose to be stabbed so we can live and fight another day.”

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said at a news conference before the vote that approving the maps would be the end of costly litigation.

“I think our members realize that we have been handed a very difficult situation,” Vos said. “I have said from the beginning that I believe we can win under the maps presented because we have better candidates, a better message and the ability to get hardworking people to explain across the state why it is better to have Republicans in charge of the Legislature. for Wisconsin.”

But Democrats who voted against adopting Evers’ maps expressed concern that Republicans were trying to mislead them. In particular, they noted that the bill’s text would not put the new maps into effect until the November general election, rather than immediately.

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Wisconsin’s current maps are unconstitutional,” Democratic Minority Leader Dianne Hesselbein said in a statement. “Republicans have an illegitimate majority and should not influence new state maps. Their motives today, like their actions over the last decade, are ill-intentioned and selfish.”

This is the second time in less than a month that the Legislature has attempted to enact new boundaries for the Senate and Assembly before the court issues its order drawing the boundaries. Evers vetoed the Legislature’s latest attempt, which relied on maps he proposed but made changes to protect Republican incumbents.

This time, the Senate approved Evers’ maps without any changes to the lines.

Under the bill, the new maps would not go into effect for any special or recall elections before the November election. That means that if the effort to force a recall election for Vos is successful, the vote would be held under the current map and not the new one.

“We don’t have clarity on this,” said Democratic Senator Mark Spreitzer. “Someone is going to have to go to court for that.”

The Senate approved it 18-14, with one Democrat joining 17 Republicans in favor and five Republicans joining nine Democrats against.

The action comes after the Wisconsin Supreme Court in December threw out the current maps drawn by Republicans as unconstitutional. He said if the Legislature couldn’t adopt new maps that Evers signed into law, he would elect new maps. Evers, the Legislature and four others submitted maps for the court to consider.

Consultants hired by the court last week said maps submitted by the Republican Legislature and a conservative law firm were manipulated. They raised no concerns about any of the four maps drawn by Democrats, including one submitted by Evers, but left the question of constitutionality to the state Supreme Court.

Analysis of Evers’ maps shows they would likely greatly reduce Republican majorities in the Legislature, which are 64-35 in the Assembly and 22-10 in the Senate.

According to Evers’ maps, there would be 15 incumbents in the Assembly who would be forced to run against another incumbent and six such pairs in the Senate. Only one of the Assembly’s peers would pit one Democratic incumbent against another. In the Senate, the only Democratic pairing includes an incumbent who has already decided not to run this fall.

The state election commission has said new maps must be ready by March 15 to meet deadlines for candidates running for office in November.

Litigation continues in more than a dozen states over U.S. House and state legislative districts that were enacted after the 2020 census.

___

Associated Press writer Todd Richmond contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that under Evers’ maps, there would be 15 incumbents in the Assembly, not 16, who would be forced to run against another incumbent.

By Sam