By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a stark reminder to Wisconsin Democrats on Thursday about the importance the battleground state will play in the presidential election less than 11 weeks away.
“No pressure, it’s all riding on Wisconsin,” Pelosi told more than 100 Democrats during a virtual meeting tied to the final day of the Democratic National Convention. “No pressure.”
Democrats, as well as President Donald Trump, have made no secret how essential winning Wisconsin is to the race this year. Wisconsin did not get the national attention it hoped for when the Democratic convention originally planned for Milwaukee moved online. But Trump and his surrogates have flooded the state this week, drawing a sharp contrast with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who decided against traveling to the state to accept the nomination due to concerns over COVID-19.
Still, after Trump’s narrow victory of less than 23,000 votes in 2016, and polls showing another close race this year, Democrats are pledging not to downplay the importance of Wisconsin in Biden’s efforts to defeat Trump.
“The road to the presidency runs through Wisconsin,” said Holder, who was attorney general under former President Barack Obama. “The fate of the United States, the fate of the western world, is on your shoulders. Not too much pressure.”
Holder and Gov. Tony Evers also stressed the importance of denying Republicans the six seats needed in the Wisconsin Legislature to have a veto-proof super majority headed into the once-a-decade process of redistricting next year. Wisconsin has been at the front of the national battle over redistricting, with Democrats taking a challenge of the current maps all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Republicans need to pick up three seats in the Senate and three in the Assembly to have super majorities that could override any Evers veto. That would enable the GOP-controlled Legislature to enact any map it wishes after redistricting next year, just as it did in 2011 when Republican Scott Walker was governor.
Evers and Democrats have rallied around a “Save the Veto” message, with the first-term Democrat saying Thursday he had temporarily suspended fundraising for his own reelection to focus on that effort.
Evers predicted that Republicans would convene “within seconds” to override his veto of the maps if they have the votes to do it.
“That’s what this year’s election is all about for me, and I think for you also,” Evers said. “Sure, it’s about defeating the Trumpster and making sure his brand of nonsense comes nowhere near the White House again. I know Joe is going to win in November, but it’s also about maps.”
Holder said Wisconsin had the most gerrymandered maps in the country.
“We need to make sure that Democrats have a seat at the table,” Holder said. “This is an existential presidential election, I get that. But so are the races happening down the ballot in Wisconsin as well, and across the country.”