SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the new legislative redistricting maps into law on Friday, setting up a bitter court battle in the coming months.
Republicans accused Pritzker of breaking his 2018 campaign promise to veto a redistricting map drawn by partisan politicians or their staff. After he took office, he softened his stance to say he would veto an unfair map, and modified his definition of fairness to include a map that was drawn by politicians, so long as it preserved the collective voices and voting power of Black and Brown communities.
“When JB Pritzker was a candidate for Governor, he made a lot of promises,” Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) said in a statement. “He told us he was different, that he was a reformer, and that he would veto any map drawn by lawmakers. Today he broke his promise to voters and joins the all-too-long list of Illinois politicians who promise one thing and then do another.”
Democrats celebrated the passage of the maps as a win for diversity.
“Today was a win for the people of this great state,” House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) said in an emailed statement. “With Governor Pritzker’s signature, people of Illinois can be confident in a legislative map that is reflective of the diversity that we see in every corner of our state.”
On Thursday, Governor Pritzker sat down one-on-one to discuss his views on the redistricting maps. The transcript below was recorded for an interview that is scheduled to air on Sunday:
Mark Maxwell: The maps are on the way to your desk. When are you going to sign them?
Gov. J.B. Pritzker: Well, I’m still evaluating the maps and, uh, so…
Maxwell: Are they fair?
Pritzker: and I’ll let you know as soon as I can.
Maxwell: Are they fair to Republicans?
Pritzker: Still evaluating that. That’s not the way to judge things, right.
Maxwell: That’s the way they’re judging it. They say it screws Republicans.
Pritzker: Well, I get it. You know, Tim Butler stood up at a press conference and said that the definition of a fair map is one that elects more Republicans. Does that sound like the definition of a fair map to you? The fact is that fairness is about the Voting Rights Act in Illinois, making sure that’s been followed, the Voting Rights Act of the United States, and the Supreme Court rulings that have been made about mapmaking. And then finally the, you know, reflection of the diversity of the state of Illinois,
Maxwell: We’re pushing back a primary election. Senate President Harmon said that we’re waiting for census data to do the congressional maps. Why wait for census data to do congressional maps if not for the state legislative maps?
Pritzker: Well, we have a constitutional requirement to get that done by June 30.
Maxwell: If Democrats want complete control of the process.
Pritzker: No, that’s to avoid what is clearly not a democratic process where you’re pulling a name out of a hat to determine what map you’re going to do. This is something that the Republicans should have participated in, did not put forward their own map. Note: they did not put forward their own map. So I have nothing to evaluate the current map up against that we could have had in the state of Illinois. I would hope that, you know, whatever map we end up with in the state is reflective of the census data when it does come out. But we needed to get a map. Now, I still have to evaluate that map.
Maxwell: Republicans have said, though — you mentioned pulling the name out of a hat — there are other ways. That bipartisan commission, that would probably have gridlock, that might go to the hat, could adopt a map drawn by an independent commission. They said they would do that. They said if you go to that process that they would. Do believe them?
Pritzker: They’ve said a lot that isn’t true.
Maxwell: You yourself gave that idea before.
Pritzker: I wanted an independent commission. I still want an independent commission, but I think that we should have an amendment to the constitution that says that we have an independent commission. They didn’t do that. That’s not what we ended up with in the state of Illinois. So it seems to me I’m gonna have to make a decision about whether these maps are fair. But I will say that I do think that there may need to be adjustments made, if, when we do get a map based upon the census data that comes in
Maxwell: Is that a little bit of leverage there over this energy debate? The holdout between the Senate and the House?
Pritzker: [Shakes head no]
Maxwell: No? Okay.
You can watch the one-on-one interview with Governor Pritzker this Sunday on Capitol Connection.