WASHINGTON — In a second draft of a new congressional map, Illinois Democratic mapmakers in Springfield carved a second Hispanic district and, in a surprise, threw Democratic incumbent Reps. Marie Newman and Sean Casten together, setting up a potential divisive primary.
The new draft released Saturday still may be revised, with a vote on the final version expected within days. Now that it’s been publicly proposed, it will be politically difficult to impossible for Democrats to drop a second Hispanic district.
The second Hispanic district was created under state Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, the chair of the House Redistricting Committee, and state Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, the chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee.
State Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, up for re-election in 2022, hold all the power in congressional map-making.
Congressional Democrats have no seat at the table. Illinois is one of a few states where Democrats control the entire remap process.
Both drafts set the potential for Democrats to pick up three seats, crucial if Democrats retain the House, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., controls by a three-vote margin.
At present, Illinois sends 13 Democrats and 5 Republicans to Congress.
Because of reapportionment under the 2020 Census, Illinois will have 17 districts, down from 18. Each district must have a population of 753,677.
The Democratic-drawn map is designed to yield at least 14 Democratic and 3 Republican seats.
In Illinois, members of Congress do not have to live in the districts they represent.
2nd HISPANIC DISTRICT: The current Hispanic congressional district, the Illinois 4th, was created only after a federal court fight in the wake of the 1990 Census. In order to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act, the courts allowed Chicago’s two Hispanic communities — on the North and South Sides — to be connected by adding a thin bit of suburban turf to link them together. The district was contorted into an “earmuff” or “C” shape in order to also preserve the 7th as a Black district, also mandated under the VRA.
The Springfield mapmakers on this second try drew a heavily Democratic district designed to send a second Hispanic to Washington by essentially dissolving the current 3rd congressional district represented by the freshman Newman.
It’s recognition that the current 3rd is a remnant of the Mike Madigan era, drawn specifically to protect and preserve former Rep. Bill Lipinski and his son, Dan, whom Newman defeated in the 2020 Illinois Democratic primary.
Under the proposal, the earmuffs are decoupled and a new 3rd district is now anchored on the North Side, heading west to DuPage County.
The current 4th represented by Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who lives in Little Village, becomes a South Side district with a tentacle shooting towards Melrose Park. In a bonus, Garcia, on the House Transportation Committee, would get Midway Airport — now in Newman’s district. She’s also on the Transportation panel.
The Census counts undocumented immigrants who can’t vote, so population numbers may not be an accurate projection of Hispanic strength. According to the new map, the Hispanic voting-age population for the revamped 4th is 62% and only 43.75% in the new 3rd.
“The proposal ensures minorities, as well as the rest of Illinoisans, have an equitable voice in representation in Washington,” Hernandez said in a statement.
NEWMAN/CASTEN — State Democratic legislative mapmakers didn’t care if they sparked an intra-party fight by throwing Newman, a progressive from LaGrange, and Casten, a centrist from Downers Grove, in the same district since it will not impact the Democratic bottom line.
Casten represents the current 6th District. The new 6th, anchored in the western suburbs, takes away Newman’s Southwest Side Chicago and southwest suburban political base.
President Joe Biden won the new 6th by about 12 points, according to an analysis by Scott Kennedy’s Illinois Election Data operation. Casten had $1,049,641 cash-on-hand as of Sept. 30, according to the Federal Election Commission, compared to $437,873 for Newman.
REPUBLICANS KINZINGER/LAHOOD/BOST/MILLER: Dem mapmakers want Republicans to absorb the loss of a seat. Under the latest draft, GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon, vulnerable because of his crusade against Trumpism, is pitted against Rep. Darin LaHood of Peoria. The first draft threw Kinzinger and Newman together.
Reps. Mary Miller of Oakland and Mike Bost of Murphysboro are also tossed in the same heavily Republican district.
UNDERWOOD SAFER: Democrat Rep. Lauren Underwood of Naperville is one of the few Black members of Congress who won in a majority white district. She only won by a point in 2020. This second map is improved for her because it gets rid of Republican McHenry County.
BLACK DISTRICTS: The loss of Black population in Illinois means fewer Black residents in the three districts — all Democratic — created to yield Black lawmakers. Voting-age population is 50.13% in Rep. Bobby Rush’s 1st; 43.75% in Rep. Robin Kelly’s 2nd and only 40.05 % in Rep. Danny Davis’ 7th.
DEMOCRATS HIT FOR TEAM: Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston and other Dem incumbents — Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg, Bill Foster, also of Naperville, and Brad Schneider of Deerfield were stretched north and west in order to absorb GOP turf, and free up Democratic precincts for Underwood.