House approves new congressional map

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House approved a new congressional map Monday that increases the amount of representation in the suburbs and aims to cut Republican incumbents’ future election success.

Democrats drew the map and faced heavy criticism from Republicans led by Rep. Mike Fortner of West Chicago.

He said the plan isn’t ideal for the state’s growing Hispanic population, wasn’t opened up to public scrutiny and was unconstitutional.

While the map was released for public scrutiny Friday, some changes to the proposal weren’t released until just before the House’s vote.

Fortner said for a process that only happens once every 10 years, more time and discussion needs to take place.

“The map we have before us I think has a number of flaws,” Fortner said. “There are a lot of questions we need to probe more deeply on that require more time.”

The map passed the House 63-54. The vote went along party lines with the exception of Marengo Rep. Jack Franks who was the only Democrat to vote against it.

Though Fortner raised concerns about minority representation, Sen. Don Harmon said he believed the Hispanic population would increase throughout the state during the next decade and become a larger presence in multiple districts.

The Oak Park Democrat was on the Senate committee that approved the House’s revised map, setting it up for a vote in the full Senate Tuesday.

“I think it’s a very strong map and a much better map than the map the General Assembly adopted 10 years ago,” Harmon said. “Most importantly, the map follows the law and would hold up to any legal challenge.”

If the map passes the Senate Tuesday, some suburban congressmen could run into difficulties in the 2012 elections.

The proposed map could force GOP Reps. Randy Hultgren of Winfield and Joe Walsh of McHenry to run against each other in a primary election. It also could pit freshman GOP Rep. Bob Dold of Kenilworth against Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston in a district that could favor Democrats.