Tag Archives: Illinois

Gerrymandering Wars Ignited

By Jim Ellis
Aug. 27, 2021 — In the past few days, Democratic leaders and news sources in two states, New York and Illinois, are suggesting that the party redistricting strategists will attempt to maximize Democratic US House gains. Republicans will then counter in similar states that they control.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), on her first official day in office after replacing resigned Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), bluntly answered a reporter’s question to the affirmative when asked if she would use her newfound power to maximize Democratic congressional gains through the redistricting process.

Earlier this week, news sources were reporting that Illinois Democratic map drawers, though no preliminary congressional map has yet been released, are attempting to draw a new 14D-3R map that would likely collapse Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) and Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) into a strong Democratic seat for the former and pairing for the latter with another downstate Republican.

Doing this would put added national pressure on Republicans in states such as Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Georgia – places where the GOP has full control of the redistricting process. Here, the states are either adding seats or in position to carve a sitting Democrat into unfriendly political territory.

With New York losing one seat, the prime district for elimination would appear obvious since Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) has already announced his retirement and his 23rd District is the lowest in population among all New York seats. Adjacent Rep. Claudia Tenney’s (R-New Hartford) 22nd CD is second lowest, so combining those two Upstate Republican districts into one appears to be a foregone conclusion. It remains to be seen if the Democratic leaders try to do more. The current delegation breaks 19D-8R but will reduce to 26 seats in the next Congress.

Of Illinois’ current 18 congressional districts, only one, that of Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago), is over-populated and only by 10,986 people. While the Kinzinger seat is 61,125 individuals short of the state quota of 753,677 for the new 17-district map, his is not even close to being the most under-populated. He, however, sits between two Democratic seats that the party needs to protect, those of retiring Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline), whose 17th CD is 79,907 residents under quota, and Rep. Lauren Underwood’s (D-Naperville) 14th, where she had a close call in 2020 but is only 482 people short of quota.

While the 14th does not need many more people, it does need significantly more Democrats and they can be found by dividing Kinzinger’s 16th CD into pieces.

Redistricting is always full of surprises, so this analysis is merely educated speculation. If, however, the Democrats come away with gaining a net three or four seats from New York and Illinois combined, then how do the Republicans retaliate?

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Census by District

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 17, 2021 — We can now see exactly where each congressional district in the country stands in terms of population. The Census Bureau delivered the state redistricting data last week, and the Daily Kos Elections site data team segmented the numbers into individual congressional districts.

Below is a chart of the 38 states that have more than two districts, isolating the CDs that are the most over and under populated. The “High” column depicts the district that is the most over-populated in the state, while the “Low” is the one requiring the most new residents. The “+/-” column shows how many districts in the particular state are over and under populated.

The most robust district is that of Texas freshman Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Richmond). His southwest Houston seat houses just under one million people, at an exact count of 972,309. The least populated seat is West Virginia’s 3rd District (Rep. Carol Miller-R): 326,267 people under quota. With all of the Mountain State seats seriously down, it is clear as to why West Virginia lost a seat in reapportionment.

There are only two states, Colorado and Oregon, where all of the current districts are over-populated. Both entities gain one seat in reapportionment. On the other end of the spectrum, Michigan and Pennsylvania saw all districts falling below their new population quota, and in Illinois, 17 of their current 18 do as well. All three states are losing a district.

It is not surprising that California lost a seat for the first time in history. A total of 35 of their current 53 seats require more population versus 18 that must shed residents. New York barely lost a seat, by just 89 people statewide, which is surprising when seeing 23 of their current 27 districts requiring additional population.

The states are now converting their new data into their redistricting software systems. After that, most will hold hearings for public input prior to district construction beginning.

STATE DIST INCUMBENT HIGH LOW +/-
Alabama 5 Mo Brooks (R) 43,348 4, 3
7 Terri Swell (D) -53,143
Arizona 5 Andy Biggs (R) 86,414 3, 6
2 Ann Kirkpatrick (D) -50,133
Arkansas 3 Steve Womack (R) 86,266 2, 2
4 Bruce Westerman (R) -66,283
California 45 Katie Porter (D) 53,645 18, 35
-1 40 Lucille Roybal-Allard (D) -70,139
Colorado 4 Ken Buck (R) 148,823 7, 0
+1 3 Lauren Boebert (R) 36,543
Connecticut 4 Jim Himes (D) 25,627 2, 3
2 Joe Courtney (D) -21,288
Florida 9 Darren Soto (D) 186,381 21, 6
+1 13 Charlie Crist (D) -41,756
Georgia 7 Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) 94,304 8, 6
2 Sanford Bishop (D) -92,108
Illinois 7 Danny Davis (D) 10,986 1, 17
-1 17 Cheri Bustos (D) -79,907
Indiana 5 Victoria Spartz (R) 50,921 5, 4
8 Larry Bucshon (R) -38,579
Iowa 3 Cindy Axne (D) 61,382 1, 3
4 Randy Feenstra (R) -31,730
Kansas 3 Sharice Davids (D) 57,816 1, 3
1 Tracey Mann (R) -33,697
Kentucky 6 Andy Barr (R) 33,300 4, 2
5 Hal Rogers (R) -57,592
Louisiana 6 Garret Graves (R) 40,173 3, 3
4 Mike Johnson (R) -47,947
Maryland 4 Anthony Brown (D) 26,772 6, 2
7 Kweisi Mfume (D) -68,401
Massachusetts 7 Ayanna Pressley (D) 18,714 4, 5
1 Richard Neal (D) -50,635
Michigan 11 Haley Stevens (D) -17,368 0, 14
-1 5 Dan Kildee (D) -104,476
Minnesota 3 Dean Phillips (D) 24,586 5, 3
7 Michelle Fischbach (D) -39,978
Mississippi 4 Steven Palazzo (R) 37,196 3, 1
2 Bennie Thompson (D) -65,829
Missouri 3 Blaine Luetkemeyer (R) 35,121 6, 2
1 Cori Bush (D) -54,618
Nebraska 2 Don Bacon (R) 47,170 2, 1
3 Adrian Smith (R) -53,152
Nevada 3 Susie Lee (D) 79,374 2, 2
1 Dina Titus (D) -73,332
New Jerseyy 8 Albio Sires (D) 47,314 5, 7
2 Jeff Van Drew (R) -41,606
New Mexico 2 Yvette Harrell (R) 8,181 2, 1
1 Melanie Stansbury (D) -11,264
New York 12 Carolyn Maloney (D) 34,717 4, 23
-1 23 Tom Reed (R) -83,462
North Carolina 2 Deborah Ross (D) 165,703 12, 1
+1 1 G.K. Butterfield (D) -6,238
Ohio 3 Joyce Beatty (D) 23,119 2, 14
-1 6 Bill Johnson (R) -99,512
Oklahoma 1 Kevin Hern (R) 36,806 3, 2
2 Markwayne Mullin (R) -69,793
Oregon 1 Suzanne Bonamici (D) 157,843 5, 0
+1 4 Peter DeFazio (D) 117,399
Pennsylvania 10 Scott Perry (R) -5,379 0, 18
-1 15 Glenn Thompson (R) -90,540
South Carolina 1 Nancy Mace (R) 87,689 3, 4
6 Jim Clyburn (D) -84,741
Tennessee 4 Scott DesJarlais (R) 62,976 5, 4
9 Steve Cohen (D) -77,122
Texas 22 Troy Nehls (R) 205,322 28, 8
+2 13 Ronny Jackson (R) -59,517
Utah 4 Burgess Owens (R) 65,265 1, 3
3 John Curtis (R) -31,190
Virginia 10 Jennifer Wexton (D) 100,750 6, 5
9 Morgan Griffith (R) -87,917
Washington 7 Pramila Jayapal (D) 28,862 6, 4
6 Derek Kilmer (D) -33,730
West Virginia 2 Alex Mooney (R) -275,777 0, 3
-1 3 Carol Miller (R) -326,627
Wisconsin 2 Mark Pocan (D) 52,678 2, 6
4 Gwen Moore (D) -41,320

Census Delays: Some Ramifications

By Jim Ellis

June 1, 2021 — As we know, the Census Bureau has delayed in meeting its public reporting deadlines, which causes ramifications in the political world. As a result, the state officials responsible for redistricting could well find themselves placed behind the proverbial eight ball as the new year approaches.

Reapportionment is the term used to explain the entire decennial process. Reapportionment, as the US Supreme Court defined it in their 1999 ruling on the US Census Bureau v. House of Representatives case, is basically divided into two parts. The first, which was finally completed and released on April 26, is the allocation of congressional seats to the states. The second is the re-drawing of congressional, state, and local district boundaries most often referred to as redistricting.

To complicate matters even further, the delayed allocation proved much different – affecting six seats to be exact – than predictions. It was believed for at least two years that Texas would gain three seats in the 2020 reapportionment and Florida two, with Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon adding one seat apiece. The actual numbers found Texas gaining two, Florida one, and Arizona none. The other one-seat gaining states were correctly predicted.

Conversely, Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia were all expected to lose one seat apiece. The actual report found Alabama, Minnesota, and Rhode Island each retaining the same number of seats they held in the 2010 reapportionment, while the others did lose a single district apiece.

The Census Bureau claims that COVID is largely responsible for their delays, but the state of Alabama, in their pending lawsuit against the federal statistical entity, disagrees. Alabama claims the deadline violations occurred because of the Bureau’s attempt to impose, for the first time in history, differential privacy over the data. This means, under the argument of protecting individual privacy, data would be deliberately scrambled, and certain information not publicly released.

Differential privacy alone would make redistricting extremely difficult for state map drawers because the released census tract numbers, now by definition, wouldn’t equal the state population figures brought forth earlier in the year. The effect would cause political havoc throughout the country. A court ruling on the Alabama case is expected shortly.

Because of a successful legal challenge from Ohio, the Census Bureau has agreed to make the data necessary for redistricting available to the states by Aug. 15 instead of the Oct. 1 date indicated when allocation was announced.

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Rep. LaHood Considering Judicial Bid

By Jim Ellis

Illinois Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria)

May 25, 2021 — An interesting story is breaking in Illinois that involves four-term US Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria). Reports suggest that the congressman is considering running for an open state Supreme Court position next year instead of re-election.

The move would make some sense in that winning the 3rd District Supreme Court position would appear to give Republicans a 4-3 majority on the judicial panel, the only area of power that the GOP would control in the state.

Considering the Illinois congressional map is a heavy Democratic gerrymander (13D-5R statewide) and will likely continue as such under a new 17-seat map (down one from the current 18) to be drawn when the Census Bureau reports the track data to the states, probability is high that the collapsed seat will be Republican and come from Illinois’ downstate region.

Though fewer people reside in the state of Illinois today than 10 years ago, the population loss appears greater outside the Chicago metropolitan area. Democrats, with their wide majorities in both houses of the state legislature, will assuredly capitalize upon the opportunity of collapsing two of the few remaining GOP seats into one. This means despite languishing in a severe minority, Republican congressional strength in the state will likely diminish even further.

Illinois is one of the few states that runs its Supreme Court elections by districts. Justices are initially elected in partisan elections for 10-year terms, and then must stand for a yes-no retention vote to secure succeeding terms. To win retention, a justice must receive at least a 60 percent yes vote.

Third District Justice Thomas Kilbride recorded only a 56.5 percent yes vote in the November election; therefore, he was defeated. His appointed replacement, Democratic Justice Robert Carter, has already said he will not seek a full 10-year term in 2022, meaning the position will be open for election.

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Add IL-17 to the List of Vacancies

By Jim Ellis

May 5, 2021 — Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline), just emerging from her closest re-election victory in November – a 52-48 percent win over Republican Esther Joy King – surprisingly announced Friday that she will not seek re-election to a sixth term next year. Bustos was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair for the 2020 cycle and appeared positioned for further leadership or strong committee positions in the future.

Her absence in the next cycle from a state that is losing a congressional district means her politically marginal western Illinois CD (Trump ’20, 50-48 percent; Trump ’16, 47.4 – 46.7 percent) that stretches throughout the Iowa border region and is anchored in the area known as the Quad Cities, could drastically change in the next redistricting.

For her part, King immediately declared her candidacy for the open seat election. The Bustos retirement coupled with Rep. Charlie Crist’s (D-FL) expected gubernatorial announcement would create 16 open or vacant US House seats, eight from each party.