By Jim Ellis
Oct. 27, 2021 — A legal setback in court at the end of last week over the Illinois state legislative maps has apparently been part of the reason the Democratic leadership issued a new congressional map this Monday. The changes are very significant leading to three sets of incumbent pairings.
The overall partisan goal of creating a 14D-3R map from the current 13D-5R map looks on paper to be achieved, at least using the 2020 presidential race as a benchmark. The statisticians at Dave’s Redistricting App released their quick calculations to support the partisan division, but in previous data sets we saw the underlying races trending more Republican in some districts than the presidential race alone would have suggested.
Under this supposition, thinking the underlying races may show greater Republican strength when they are fully calculated, the new Illinois map may be a bit more competitive than meets the eye.
The big change is the creation of a second Hispanic plurality open seat in Chicago. The Mexican American Legal Defense Foundation was preparing to file suit on the first plan charging that, among other points and for the second time in two decades, the legislature bypassed the opportunity of drawing a second Hispanic seat in the city even though the numbers were clearly supporting such an addition. The various pressure points caused the leadership to draw a new map containing the second Hispanic district.
This draw causes a Democratic incumbent pairing in Chicago. Freshman Rep. Marie Newman (D-La Grange), who defeated former Rep. Dan Lipinski in the 2020 Democratic primary, would be placed in the same district as second-term Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove). Originally, Rep. Newman was paired with GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) in a general election battle that would have favored her.
This new 6th District is one of the seats that could play a bit more competitive than the 55-43 percent Biden-Trump result last November yields. Certainly, the pairing winner, and Rep. Casten is at least considered the early favorite, would have a big advantage in the general election. A strong Republican candidate and a wave GOP election could make even the general election in this district interesting.