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New proposed Illinois Hispanic district is far from majority Hispanic

State Democrats drafting the new congressional map are poised to sacrifice either Marie Newman or Sean Casten, both Democrats, to make room for another Hispanic district.

Proposed Illinois congressional remap

WASHINGTON — State Democrats drafting the new congressional map are poised to sacrifice either Marie Newman or Sean Casten, both Democrats, to create a new so-called Hispanic district with so few Hispanics in it that there is no assurance Illinois will send another Hispanic politician to Congress.

Lawmakers in Springfield are expected to make their final revisions on the draft after legislative hearings Tuesday and Wednesday. Votes in the state House and state Senate are expected by the end of the week.

Some changes are expected but the draft released Saturday is pretty much the outline of the finished product.

Let’s think about what’s about to happen.

Newman, the LaGrange freshman, and Casten, the Downers Grove resident in his second term, were thrown into the same district in order to create room for a second Hispanic district.

Both popular, their politics are in sync with Illinois Democrats. Newman is a progressive leader and Casten is a leader on climate change, his central and defining issue.

It’s certainly an irony that in Illinois, one of the few states in the nation where Democrats are in total control of mapmaking, the remap will knock out a Democratic incumbent.

Because of reapportionment based on the 2020 census, Illinois House seats drop to 17 from 18.

The new 6th Congressional District proposed by Springfield tossing Newman and Casten together takes suburban real estate from six Democratic members.

According to an analysis shared with me, the proposed 6th overlaps 39% with Newman’s current district and 25% with Casten’s.

Some 16% was clipped from Bobby Rush’s district; 9% from Raja Krishnamoorthi; 7% from Bill Foster; and 3% from Mike Quigley.

Heads up, Springfield: By setting up a potential brutal, multimillion-dollar divisive Democratic primary in the 6th, you may create an opening for a Republican, that is, if a non-Trump Republican could get through a primary.

The new 6th is one of the least Democratic districts Springfield mapmakers drew.

Here’s an analysis from fivethirtyeight.com of how Democratic or Republican each proposed district is and the incumbent or incumbents in the district.

1. D+40. Dem Rush.

2. D+38 Dem Robin Kelly

3. D+35. New Hispanic District. The Dem primary will clinch the seat.

4. D+41 Dem Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, at present the only Illinois Hispanic in Congress.

5. D+38 Dem Quigley

6. D+7 Dems Casten and Newman

7. D+70 Dem Danny Davis

8. D+12 Dem Krishnamoorthi

9. D+38 Dem Jan Schakowsky

10. D+21 Dem Brad Schneider

11. D+10 Dem Foster

12. R+46 Republicans Mike Bost and Mary Miller

13. D+7 open

14. D+8 Dem Lauren Underwood

15. R+42 Republican Rodney Davis

16. R+27 Republicans Ray LaHood and Adam Kinzinger

17. D+5 Open.

I heard Garcia successfully lobbied to keep the lone Hispanic district, the 4th, intact in the first draft. The 4th connects Chicago’s North and South Side Hispanic populations.

Something changed within a very few days.

The draft 2nd map out on Saturday created the new Hispanic district. Garcia’s revised 4th is now anchored on the South Side. His district has a 62% Hispanic voting age population.

The census counts undocumented immigrants who can’t vote.

Even if you knock a few points off of Garcia’s district, it’s still a majority-minority district.

It’s different for the new 3rd — with only a 43.75% Hispanic voting age population, it is barely a minority district. One estimate from a Democratic political operative — discounting for folks who can’t vote and youths who don’t vote — put the number of Hispanics who will actually vote in the new 3rd at 37%.

A Democratic primary with multiple Hispanics will divide the Hispanic vote, leaving the door wide open for a non-Hispanic candidate to claim the seat.

Three candidates are already mulling bids.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas, (36th) told Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman on Monday he is “seriously considering” a bid.

Sun-Times politics writer Rachel Hinton reports that Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, said in a statement she’s “carefully” considering a run for Congress. State Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, the chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee, is also expected to look at a run.

More are expected to jump in once the map is finalized. This could be a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

Former Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the first Hispanic politician Illinois sent to Congress, kept the seat from 1993 to 2019, followed by Garcia, the second.

Under this map with a weakly constructed Hispanic district, it’s not certain there will be a third.