Suburban senators get a look at new political map plan

  • AP file photo Political boundaries are being redrawn in Springfield.

    AP file photo Political boundaries are being redrawn in Springfield.

  • Ron Sandack

    Ron Sandack

  • Christine Radogno

    Christine Radogno

  • Kirk Dillard

    Kirk Dillard

  • Michael Noland

    Michael Noland

 
 
Updated 5/20/2011 9:10 AM

SPRINGFIELD -- Senate Democrats' proposed changes to Illinois' political map could cause some headaches for some suburban Republican senators during the 2012 election and could open opportunities for some new faces to enter the fray.

It's a contentious process politicians in Springfield have to go through every 10 years: When new census data comes out, lawmakers have to redraw political boundaries accordingly. With population growth in the suburbs, the map changes can significantly alter the districts that lawmakers represent.

 

The Senate's plan includes a district that would force DuPage County Republican Sen. Ron Sandack to either run against Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont or move and run elsewhere.

Sandack, who just finished a stint as mayor of Downers Grove, said he likes his job and wants to run again.

"Nothing about today's events changes that," Sandack said.

Radogno's reaction was cautious.

"I'm just trying to evaluate it," she said. "I'm not alarmed by it."

Democrats could intentionally be targeting a top Republican with the move, drawing a district assuring that either Sandack or Radogno will lose, not run, or have to move elsewhere for the 2012 election.

Sandack and Radogno both indicated Thursday that this might not be the final map.

The Senate plan also includes a district that contains incumbent GOP Sens. John Millner of Carol Stream and Tom Johnson of West Chicago. But Johnson has said he doesn't plan to run in 2012, likely avoiding a primary clash between the two.

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The plan details two districts in the suburbs that would have no incumbent senator, leaving the election wide open for either party to take advantage. One would be mostly west and north of Elgin, extending north into McHenry County. The other would be mostly in Kendall and Will counties, south of Naperville and Aurora.

Other changes were more subtle, like in Sen. Mike Noland's district.

"Here's the thing. My feeling on all of this is it didn't matter on how things shaked out," the Elgin Democrat said. "If we're doing our job, I would think we'd be more likely to be re-elected."

The House could release plans for the state's political boundaries as early as Friday. That plan could be slightly different, meaning some of the Senate proposals could change before they become law. And a new map for Congress could come soon, too.

The map has to be approved by the General Assembly and Gov. Pat Quinn. Democratic control means they can do so without Republican input. The GOP sounded off about the plan and made observations Thursday, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I think that DuPage County will continue to have excellent representation and we continue to be a force and Senator (Don) Harmon from Oak Park has always had a little bit of DuPage," said Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican. "It looks like that may continue in the far northeast part of the county."

Statewide, the plans reflect an Illinois that has seen a huge growth in its Hispanic population. It creates five Senate districts where there's a majority of Hispanic voters. There are four now.

And the number of districts that have a majority of African American voters drops from eight to seven.

Lawmakers will vote on the maps soon. If Democrats want to approve them without GOP input, they have to do so by May 31.