Nov. 2, 2021 — On Friday, the Illinois legislature voted to send a new congressional redistricting map to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), altering what they had drawn at the beginning of last week. This third map design came largely because of objections from both Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and Marie Newman (D-La Grange) who had been paired in one Chicago suburban district for the 2022 party primary.
A recent court decision rejecting the Illinois state legislative maps influenced the Democratic leadership to draw a second congressional map. A 10-year argument as to whether a second Hispanic seat should be drawn in Chicago this time became the principle discussion point.
In the 2011 redistricting plan, such a seat wasn’t drawn, and also wasn’t part of this year’s original Illinois congressional map. Seeing the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) already threatening to sue over the first draw even before a final map had been adopted clearly was a factor in creating a second plan that did feature an additional Hispanic seat.
While this new third congressional version did assuage Rep. Casten and MALDEF, such was not the case for freshman Rep. Newman. She remains paired, but now with Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) in an inner city Hispanic district. This is an even more difficult situation for Newman. She appears to be a leadership target likely because she defeated Chicago machine Democrat Dan Lipinski in the 2020 Democratic primary, and this latest map could well be a payback for her challenging the local party authorities.
Another political casualty is Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon). Facing a paired situation with Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) in a Republican primary for the newly drawn 16th District — mostly foreign territory for Kinzinger in a seat that stretches from the Wisconsin border all the way to central Illinois — the congressman announced on Friday that he will not seek re-election to a seventh term.
The Kinzinger move is not surprising. Most of the new 16th District comes from Rep. LaHood’s current 17th CD and, as one of the 10 Republicans to support then-President Donald Trump’s impeachment and a leading vocal Republican critic of Trump, Rep. Kinzinger would have difficultly winning any GOP primary. With Trump targeting Kinzinger for defeat, and opposite a strong incumbent like Rep. LaHood, his chances of winning re-nomination were in the long shot realm at best.
The latest Illinois map, and presumably the one that will be finally adopted, now features two incumbent pairings since Rep. Kinzinger is bowing out. Reps. Mary Miller (R-Oakland) and Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) will battle for a re-configured southern Illinois 12th District, while Democratic Reps. Garcia and Newman are placed in the same 4th District in order to create a second Chicago Hispanic CD.
The latest draw is somewhat better for freshman Rep. Miller. In the original map, she was placed in a seat with Rep. LaHood where the vast majority of territory was from his current district. Now, she faces Rep. Bost in a southern Illinois seat that favors him, but not to such a severe degree as was the case in the originally proposed LaHood pairing.
The Illinois congressional map is designed to elect 14 Democrats and three Republicans, but stretching the plan to this maximum degree could make some of the created Democratic districts weaker. Once political numbers become available for this latest map, which will be shortly, we will be better able to determine just how much of an advantage the Democrats will enjoy within the new 17-member Illinois delegation.