Illinois General Assembly redistricting committees have rolled out their second proposal to remap the state’s congressional districts, and it’s a doozy.
If it’s approved, it would force both Democratic and Republican incumbents to compete against one another in the name of creating at least a two-seat Democratic pickup statewide and a second district for Latinos.
Under the plan, released late Saturday, the homes of GOP Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Darin LaHood would be in the same district, as would the homes of GOP Reps. Mike Bost and Mary Miller. The state’s fifth Republican incumbent, Rodney Davis, would be given a snakelike district of his own stretching from south of Bloomington northwest to the Wisconsin and Iowa borders, as was the case in the first version of the map proposed a week ago.
The fact that Democrats would seek to force Republicans to eat the loss of one seat due to the 2020 Census and give up control of another district is not news. The news is on the Democratic side, and it’s far from clear how the new proposal will be received.
Under the proposal, the homes of Democratic incumbent Marie Newman of Chicago and DuPage County resident Sean Casten would be put into a new district from the southwest suburbs northeast into central DuPage. Former Rep. Dan Lipinski, who has talked about running again, also reportedly lives in that district.
That clears the way for creation of a second, primarily Latino district on the North Side that has no incumbent. It wouldn’t be very Hispanic, only 47% in terms of population and 44% by voting population. But it would meet the demands of some Latino leaders.
That could work to the advantage of state Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee. He told WBEZ he’s considering running in the new 3rd District, which is colored orange and runs from the Humboldt Park area in the city west past O’Hare International Airport to heavily Latino area in DuPage.
“These new proposed congressional boundaries are historic and reflect the great diversity of our state,” Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, chair of the House Districting Committee, said in a statement. The proposed new Latino-influence district will “enhance minority representation,” she said.
The proposal does somewhat embellish the prospects of another Democratic incumbent, Rep. Lauren Underwood, who would get a better map than under the first proposal.
On the other hand, Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s new 4th District would be just 62% Hispanic in terms of voting-age population. And of the state’s three Black members of Congress—Bobby Rush, Robin Kelly and Danny Davis—only Rush’s district would be majority black in terms of voting-age population, and just barely. Davis’ 7th District would be just 40% Black, with Kelly in between her two colleagues but given a district that stretches south of Interstate 80.
It’s far too soon to say how this will play out. None of those members of Congress had yet commented as of last night. But there could be a very negative reaction—unless the proposal is changed yet again. Under law, someone does not have to live in a district to run there. The only legal requirement is state residence.
The mapmakers said they expect a final vote later this week, when the Legislature reconvenes its fall veto session. A map requires the signature of Gov. J.B. Pritzker to become law.