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Paul Ryan joins former GOP speakers to push for more gerrymandering

Former House Speakers Paul Ryan, John Boehner, and Newt Gingrich want to ensure that GOP mapmakers, rather than voters, chose who sits in Congress for the next decade.

By Josh Israel - December 13, 2019
Paul Ryan

The Republican State Leadership Committee announced Friday that three of the four living former Republican speakers of the House of Representatives will advise its efforts to push for GOP-friendly gerrymandered legislative maps after the 2020 elections.

Former speakers Paul Ryan, John Boehner, and Newt Gingrich will lead the committee’s Speakers Advisory Council. “In these key advisory roles,” the group said in a press release, “each of the Speakers will provide critical support to the RSLC’s recently-launched ‘Right Lines 2020’ initiative to protect Republican legislative majorities ahead of the decennial redrawing of federal and state district maps.

A Democratic group, backed by Barack Obama and Eric Holder, has been pushing to ensure fair maps in the next redistricting. But rather than follow their lead to independent redistricting commissions and maps that accurately match the partisan composition of the states, the RSLC is focused on ensuring Republicans get to draw Republican-friendly maps.

In many states, the 2020 legislative and gubernatorial elections will determine who draws both state legislative maps and congressional district lines for the next decade. The RSLC hopes to ensure that — as they did in 2010 — they put Republicans in a position to gerrymander themselves into the majority for years to come. “Expert, public estimates have revealed that winning as few as 49 state legislative seats could determine as much as a 146-seat swing in the U.S. House for the next 10 years,” the argue, so they plan to push to hold the majorities legislatures in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Wisconsin. The group has pledged to spend millions on this project.

In the 2012 election, a majority of Americans voted for Democratic congressional candidates. But with the help of Republican gerrymanders in states in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and other states Obama carried, the GOP won the overwhelming majority of those House districts and kept its majority. One estimate found that Democrats would have needed to win the popular vote by more than 7 points to gain a House majority. The RSLC bragged openly that its 2010 efforts made that happen.

The maps allowed Republicans to easily hold House majorities until the 2018 elections — after courts struck down some of the GOP gerrymanders in places like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. But even as the blue wave helped Democrats gain 41 seats, none came in still-gerrymandered swing states like Ohio and Wisconsin.

“The RSLC is leading the fight to protect state and congressional districts from liberal gerrymandering, and I am proud to lend my full support to their mission of winning races up-and-down the ballot,” Ryan said in the press release.

Boehner warned that “President Obama and Eric Holder failed to transform America into a socialist utopia when they were in office, but they’ve clearly not given up just yet. They’ve recruited liberal billionaires, labor unions, and left-wing activist groups to join them in a coordinated program to rig our nation’s legislative boundaries in favor of Democrats.”

Gingrich predicted that if “Republicans don’t win in the states next year, the keys to Congressional majorities for the next ten years will be in the hands of the same do-nothing Democrats that are there right now — it’s just that simple.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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