Democrats issue revised congressional map – Chicago Tribune


Illinois Democrats have unveiled a revised congressional map that sets up the potential for a second Latino district, two primary matchups featuring Republican incumbents and, surprisingly, a one-on-one primary battle between Democratic incumbents.

Unlike the first version of the map, the revision appears to more solidly entrench a 14-3 Democratic advantage over Republicans as the party seeks to maintain its solid majority in the U.S. House for the next decade.

The new map was released on Saturday afternoon, when Democrats could be assured little attention would be paid to the once-every-decade redistricting of the state’s U.S. House boundaries that could shape Illinois and Washington politics.

Marie Newman, U.S. representative from Illinois's 3rd congressional district, speaks as the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights holds a rally to

Marie Newman, U.S. representative from Illinois’s 3rd congressional district, speaks as the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights holds a rally to “demand a pathway to citizenship and an immediate halt on deportations” at the Thompson Center, Thursday, July 8, 2021. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

Reflecting a growing Latino population in the state, the new map would create an opportunity for a second Latino district in Illinois along with 4th District now held by U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

The proposed 4th District would see much of its Northwest Side Latino population moved into a new district that stretches into the west suburbs to capture growth in the Latino community in Cook and DuPage county suburbs.

One prominent resident of the proposed 3rd District, which goes from the Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago westward to include parts of Wheaton, Winfield and West Chicago in the suburbs and would likely become a second Latino district, is Chicago Ald. Gilbert Villegas, 36th, who chairs the City Council Latino Caucus.

With Democrats holding a narrow U.S. House majority, Illinois Democrats were under pressure to try to maximize their advantage over Republicans in the delegation in drawing new map lines

Still, Democrats created a one-on-one Democratic suburban primary pitting two-term U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove against freshman Democrat Marie Newman in a revised 6th District that runs from Lombard on the north to include the southwest suburbs that had been part of Newman’s current 3rd District.

Newman would lose Chicago communities that would be moved into districts now represented by Democrats Garcia and Danny Davis of Chicago, and Robin Kelly of Matteson. Bridgeport residents testifying about the initial map complained that they were being split up, dividing Southwest Side and south suburban areas with common interests.

Newman also had complained about the original reconfiguration of her district in the map that was released Oct. 15. That map removed several city neighborhoods from her district and stretched westward to include rural areas along Interstate 80 around LaSalle and Ottawa. The district as originally drawn also put her in competition with six-term Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon.

With Illinois’ population loss hitting downstate rural areas hardest, the revised map now puts Kinzinger and Darin LaHood of Peoria in a sprawling district that stretches from the Wisconsin border south to include areas around Rockford, Peoria and Bloomington and east to Morris.

LaHood, a four-term congressman and staunch conservative, has been a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump. Kinzinger, a six-term congressman, has been an outspoken critic of Trump and his continued leadership role in the GOP, voted for the former president’s impeachment and sits on the Democratic-led panel reviewing the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The Democrats original map had put LaHood in the same district as Mary Miller, a controversial freshman Republican from Oakland in east central Illinois who has embraced the far right elements of the Republican Party. Miller now finds herself mapped into a district which extends into deep southern Illinois area represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro, a four-term congressman.

In the city, Rep. Bobby Rush’s district would run from parts of Bronzeville south and southwest to include Braidwood and Bourbonais. Kelly, the state Democratic chair, would be in a district running from North Kenwood south to Danville in east central Illinois.

“These new proposed congressional boundaries are historic and reflect the great diversity present throughout the state,” said state Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez of Cicero, the Democratic chair of the Illinois House Redistricting Committee. “The proposal ensures minorities, as well as the rest of Illinoisans, have an equitable voice in representation in Washington.”

Democrats are expected to approve the new map when state lawmakers reconvene in Springfield this week for the final week fall session — though it is possible the lines could change before a final vote.

The current U.S. House delegation makeup is 13 Democrats, five Republicans, but the state will only have 17 House districts for the next decade because federal census data showed Illinois losing population for the first time in state history.

Democrats control the legislature and the governor’s office, meaning no Republican votes are needed to pass a map.