Congressional map sent to Quinn amid GOP protests
A map drawn by Democrats that could reduce Republican representation in Congress by stretching and skewing suburban district boundary lines was sent to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk Tuesday.
Following a 34-25 vote in the state Senate, the proposal joins a General Assembly map sent to the governor late last week.
The map has been sharply criticized by Republicans as a partisan document aimed at taking power rather than making sure citizens get proper representation. And, it's clear the party is planning a legal challenge to the map.
"This congressional map is a national embarrassment," said state Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican.
Meanwhile, one state Senate Democrat cast the sole vote against party lines on the plan Tuesday, saying it divided Kane County unfairly.
"Anyone who believes that coming down (to Springfield) I'm going along to get along with Chicago Democrats, this should dispel that myth," said Sen. Michael Noland, vice chair of the Senate redistricting committee.
Noland said that while overall the map is "fair and balanced," he voted against it because he believes Kane County will lose out on millions of federal dollars by being split up into three different congressional districts.
The state's political lines are redrawn every decade after new census numbers are released. With only slow population growth, Illinois is losing a congressional seat, moving from 19 districts to 18. While the growing suburbs gained a seat, going from six to seven, Chicago — long a Democratic stronghold — held steady at six despite declining population.
Democrats, in charge of the legislature and governor's office, are in full control of the process this time and do not need Republican cooperation for passage.
"Redistricting is the most partisan political act the General Assembly does," Roosevelt University political science professor Paul Green said. "He or she who holds the pencil holds tremendous power."
The proposed map calls for some big changes for Republicans, drawing several incumbent congressmen into the same district boundaries and significantly altering the scope of many districts.
The plan puts Rep. Randy Hultgren, a Wheaton Republican who defeated first-term Democrat Bill Foster in November, and fellow Republican Rep. Joe Walsh, a tea party freshman who defeated three-term Democrat Melissa Bean of Barrington, into the same district.
Republican Rep. Robert Dold of Kenilworth would be in the same district with Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Evanston Democrat.
Meanwhile, Foster formally announced a bid Tuesday for what would be the new 11th Congressional District, which has no incumbent and includes portions of Aurora, Joliet, Naperville and Lisle, under the proposed map.
His former district — also Dennis Hastert's seat for two decades — would now be split into two at the Kane and McHenry County border.
And the proposed map creates another district with no incumbent that's roughly centered in Schaumburg, a district created by parts of several primarily Cook and DuPage County districts.
Already, one Democrat has announced plans to run for Congress there. Hoffman Estates resident Raja Krishnamoorthi, who lost a bid for state comptroller, says he'll run.
In DuPage County, a traditional Republican stronghold, the map shows some of the biggest changes, with six Democratic districts instead of the current three.
Republican Rep. Judy Biggert of Hinsdale would see her district carved up five different ways. The new district she would call home is where Chicago Democrat Rep. Mike Quigley lives and is largely considered to be much more Democratic leaning than Biggert's current district.
Yet, not all Republican seats were jeopardized by the plan.
The DuPage County congressional district held by Wheaton Republican Rep. Peter Roskam since 2006 would lose portions of Elk Grove and Hanover Townships, picking up portions of largely Republican Barrington and Ela townships.
Roskam is the House chief deputy whip and a key party fundraiser, with $1.4 million already in his campaign war chest.
He's largely considered "impossible to beat in any district," Green said. "He'd be tougher to take out than the newcomers."
Republicans Tuesday continued the criticism they've lobbed at Democrats for days, saying their constituents hadn't had enough time to review the politically partisan map before lawmakers voted for it.
Republicans also charged, perhaps in an effort to bolster a lawsuit, that the map ignored the best interests of Hispanic voters.
But Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat and sponsor of the legislation, noted the map was drawn to "stay in compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act, equality in population and the traditional redistricting principles."
The Illinois GOP Tuesday continued to call on Quinn to veto the map.
If he doesn't, GOP spokesman Jon Blessing said, the party is prepared to file suit.
• Daily Herald state government writer Mike Riopell contributed to this report.
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