Heard on the Hill

Ugly Gerry wants you to know the ‘ugly’ truth about gerrymandering

Two guys in Chicago are drawing their weapons in D.C. politics

Gerrymandering activists gather on the steps of the Supreme Court as the court prepares to hear the Benisek v. Lamone case on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ben Doessel is “not a huge picture guy,” he told me when I asked if he had any photos with his creative partner — and the other guy behind Ugly Gerry — James Lee.

But pictures of oddly-shaped congressional districts? He has twenty-six of those.

Doessel and Lee are a couple of the creative minds behind the website housing a downloadable font inspired by “gerrymandered” congressional districts. Rounding out the entire alphabet, each letter has been assigned a political pin on the map. Doessel and Lee claim the letter “U” — Illinois’ 4th District.

Although he admits he cheated, at times morphing two political districts into one letter, he’s not sorry about it. “We figured there was some lawlessness with the politics, why can’t there be some lawlessness with the font as well?” he asked (rhetorically, of course).

The pursuit of finding the 4th District's alphabetical brethren launched after seeing “funny shapes” resembling letters formed by some districts, but the “passion” part of their project ignited around late June when a divided Supreme Court decided that unfair partisan lines aren’t the highest court’s priority.

“It’s a topic that’s easily ignored,” Doessel says. “This seemed like a way to get people to look at it and spread it like graffiti.”

Appropriately, the images, resembling something of an ink-blot, could pass for graffiti, while the project’s Twitter account @UglyGerry is gaining followers. They’ve been shamelessly tweeting at congressmen since late July. From Democrat Rep. Kurt Schrader in Oregon to Florida’s Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, no member on either side of the aisle — or country — is safe from their graphic wrath. Doessel says the project’s popularity took off on Thursday after what he calls a “press push.”

Although no members of Congress have drawn their weapons in return, Doessel is “gonna see where it goes.” “A tweet from AOC would be the holy grail,” he says wishfully.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.