Illinois Democrats gerrymander new Congressional maps to shrink GOP delegation by two seats

Illinois Capitol News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — After internal party strife spilled from behind the scenes out onto the House floor and nearly derailed the redistricting process until January, House Speaker Chris Welch and his office narrowly reached a deal to approve a new Congressional map late on Thursday night, though it will likely force at least one incumbent Democrat out of their seat in Congress.

First-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-Illinois 3rd District) was drawn into a new majority-Latino district with two-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia (D-Illinois 4th District). Federal election law allows Illinois residents to run in any district in the state, but most candidates opt to run in the district where they live.

In moving Newman into Garcia’s home district, statehouse Democrats took her home address out of U.S. Rep. Sean Casten’s (D-Illinois 6th District) district in the western suburbs. Newman slammed the new map in a written statement.

“The most recently proposed map is a clear attempt to appease one person and a small handful of affluent insiders at the expense of workers and working families on Chicago’s Southwest Side and suburbs,” she said.

Newman could still opt to run against Casten instead, but would have to challenge him on his home turf.

State Rep. Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar (D-Chicago), who replaced former Speaker Mike Madigan in the 22nd District, slammed the Democratic-drawn map on the House floor, claiming it excluded or diluted Latino voters. “I’m no longer respected,” she said. She and Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) were the only two Democrats who did not back the new map boundaries.

“Obviously, the loss of a congressional seat following the 2020 Census loomed large over this process,” Rep. Lisa Hernandez (D-Cicero) said. She and other top Democrats, including Governor J.B. Pritzker, have repeatedly said they value diversity in the new redistricting maps.

“I do really believe that this map really reflects the diversity of this state, and it expands access for Latino opportunity representation,” Hernandez said.

The new map also creates a vacant majority-Latino district, and threatens to shrink Republicans’ Congressional delegation from five members down to three. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Illinois 18th District) is drawn into the same district as U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois 16th District), and U.S. Rep. Mike Bost (R-Illinois 12th District) is drawn into a seat against first-term U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (R-Illinois 15th District).

“Democrat politicians have been huddling behind closed doors for months picking the voters they want in their districts,” Rep. Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) said on the House floor. “Your maps make a farce of democracy, and your process is a charade.”

Democrats drew the hometown of U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Illinois 13th District) out of the district he represents now, tilting the 13th District more in favor of Democrats. Nikki Budzinski, a former senior adviser to Governor Pritzker and the former chief of staff in President Biden’s Office of Management and Budget, is running for that seat where Biden won by double digits. Taylorville, where Davis lives, is now drawn safety into a new sprawling district with no incumbent that voted 69% for former President Trump. Davis had been considering a potential run for Governor, but said he would wait until the map lines were drawn to make his final decision.

“It’s pretty easy to figure out,” Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) said of the Democrats’ gerrymandering efforts. “You have a high ranking former member of the Governor’s administration who has decided to move to Springfield and run for Congress and announce against the guy who got thrown out of that district.”

The new map lines also create another new vacant seat that sweep up college campuses and urban city centers in Rockford, Moline, Peoria, and Bloomington, to pack voters into a district that leans Democratic. Biden won the new 17th Congressional District by 7.6%, according to analysis by Illinois Election Data.

Republican Esther Joy King is running for that seat again after losing to outgoing incumbent U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos in 2020. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which Bustos used to lead, has promoted Jonathan Logemann, a Democratic alderman from Rockford, for the seat. Other notable Democrats who live in that district include state Senator Steve Stadelman, a former TV anchor, and former state Representative Litesa Wallace, a primary candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 2018.

The 2022 Illinois primary election is scheduled for June 28th. Candidates can begin circulating nominating petitions to appear on the ballot in January.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories