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Marie Newman to challenge Sean Casten after Illinois Democrats pitted her against Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia

“Since the beginning of the redistricting process, I have never wanted to see friends run against friends,” Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill. said in a statement.

Rep. Marie Newman will run against Rep. Sean Casten under the new congressional map drawn by state Democrats.
Rep. Marie Newman will run against Rep. Sean Casten under the new congressional map drawn by state Democrats.
AP file

WASHINGTON — Hours after Democrats in Springfield approved a congressional remap putting Democratic Reps. Marie Newman and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the same district, Newman announced Friday she will instead run against Rep. Sean Casten.

Newman, a freshman from LaGrange, will run in the new 6th District, which contains about 40% of her current 3rd District, including portions of the 19th, 14th, 23rd and 13th wards in Chicago.

Casten, from Downers Grove, also announced on Friday he will seek another term, running from same new 6th District, setting up a potentially divisive and expensive June Democratic primary.

Congressional candidates in Illinois do not have to live in the district they want to represent. Newman’s home is only about four blocks away from the new district line.

“I am proud to announce that I am once again running to represent the residents of Chicago’s Southwest Side and our neighbors in the surrounding west and southwest suburbs. The lion’s share of this new district is made up of the communities and residents I represent today, and I look forward to continuing to serve them in Congress,” Newman said in a statement.

Casten said in a statement, “Since the beginning of the redistricting process, I have never wanted to see friends run against friends.”

When Casten first ran in 2018, he won the Democratic nomination with only 29.51% of the vote. The field also included five women. In an interview Friday with the Sun-Times, Casten said, “if you can show by your record” what “you stand up for, then the best candidate will come through and gender does not matter.”

The map the Democratic-controlled Illinois General Assembly is sending Gov. J.B. Pritzker to sign put Newman and Garcia together in a majority-Hispanic district.

State lawmakers made a priority of creating a second district in Illinois where a Hispanic member could likely be elected, not caring if a byproduct of carving out a new district was a Democratic primary between incumbents.

In an earlier version of the map, Newman and Casten were tossed into the same district. Casten lobbied hard in Springfield the past few days and when the fourth draft map — the one that was approved — materialized late Thursday, Casten found himself in a district by himself.

His victory was short-lived, less than 24 hours.

Newman will challenge Casten and avoid a primary against Garcia; he and Newman are leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Newman also understood a political reality: It would have been politically unthinkable to run against Garcia, only the second Hispanic member of Congress from Illinois.

According to an analysis shared with me, the new 6th was created by taking 40.6% of Newman’s existing district; 23.4% of Casten’s current turf; 16.7% from Bobby Rush; 8.6% from Raja Krishnamoorhi; 6.9% from Bill Foster and 3.7% from Mike Quigley.

The portion of the district Casten retains, even though smaller than Newman’s, has more Democratic potential, according to the analysis. President Joe Biden won Casten’s area by 20.2% compared to 3.8% in the area Newman keeps.

On Thursday night, Newman, referring to Casten, castigated Springfield mapmakers for making a “clear attempt to appease one person and a small handful of affluent insiders.”

On a second try in 2020, Newman beat Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., in the heavily Democratic district where winning the primary basically clinched the seat. The current 3rd District was custom-drawn under the watchful eye of then-Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, to favor Lipinski, son of his ally and Dan’s father, former Rep. Bill Lipinski, D-Ill.

Casten moved to the Chicago area as an adult. Newman’s statement noted that: “As someone born and raised on Chicago’s Southwest Side and a lifelong resident of its surrounding suburbs, fighting for workers, small businesses, and the middle-class in these communities is in my DNA, and that fight is not going to stop now.”

“Last year, we made history by bringing together a coalition of neighbors, working families, volunteers, and voters from every corner of our communities to stand up against decades-old Machine politics, billionaires, and deep-pocketed special interests — and, we are doing it again.”

As of Sept. 30, Casten’s main campaign fund had $1,049,641 cash-on-hand; Newman’s balance was $437,873.

Under the remap, Democrats are aiming to elect 14 Democrats and three Republicans. Illinois lost a seat due to reapportionment after the 2020 census.