Illinois’ Redistricting Bloodbath

The redistricting process is well underway around the country, and whether you like it or not, this process affects who will represent you in state legislatures, and in Congress.  Most people think that it’s their votes that send a person to Congress, but that’s where they’d be wrong.  Individuals’ votes only account for perhaps 40% in the decision of who goes to Congress.

Illinois Redistricting 2011

The other 60% of the decision is split into these categories:

  • 30% – Redistricting – how are the lines drawn?
  • 20% – Money – face it, money plays a big part in politics these days
  • 10% – Personality – how else would goofballs like Anthony Weiner and Dennis Kucinich get elected?

OK, maybe I’m a bit cynical…

Redistricting Control
Anyways, back to redistricting.  There are several battleground states in this round of redistricting (which happens every ten years), and Illinois is one of those battlegrounds.  In 2000, Republicans controlled the Illinois governor’s mansion and the Illinois state Senate, while the Democrats controlled the state House.  This made for a much more civil redistricting process, as the maps had to make everyone happy (or be thrown to the courts to draw a map).  Since 2002, Democrats have controlled all three entities of state government.

This time around, the Democrats control the entire process (Governor’s mansion, state House, state Senate), so they’re using their one big opportunity in the country to kneecap the state’s Republican members.

They really took the Republicans to the slaughterhouse.  Many of the GOP incumbents no longer live in their old district, and the Democrats did as much as they could to put GOP incumbents in districts where they would have to run against another Republican in a primary.

New Districts
The new districts in Illinois look like most of them emanate from Chicago.  This is done in an effort to put a pool of Democratic voters in each district, even as the City of Chicago is waning in population.

Representative Judy Biggert (my representative) was the representative whose district was eliminated (because of low population growth in the last ten years, Illinois is losing a congressional seat), and her district was split into four different districts.  This will push her into a primary fight with a fellow Republican.  This might be Peter Roskam, who ran against her in a primary in 1998, but lost.  This time around, though, he’s unlikely to lose a primary, because he’s gained a lot of stature in the state and in Congress since his election in 2006.

Democrats drew eight safely Democrat districts, five safely GOP districts, and five competitive or swing districts:

Eight safe Democratic seats: Bobby Rush (1st), Jesse Jackson (2nd), Dan Lipinski (3rd), Luis Gutierrez (4th), Mike Quigley (5th), Danny Davis (7th), Jan Schakowsky (9th) and Jerry Costello (12th).

Five safe Republican seats: Peter Roskam (6th), Randy Hultgren (14th), John Shimkus (15th), Don Manzullo (16th), and Aaron Schock (18th).

Five competitive seats: Joe Walsh (8th), Robert Dold (10th), Judy Biggert-Open (11th), Tim Johnson (13th), and Bobby Schilling (17th).

Joe Walsh may switch districts and run in the 14th district against Randy Hultgren.  Adam Kinzinger may switch districts and run against Don Manzullo in the 16th district.  There’s potentially six Republicans that the Democrats could un-seat in 2012 by redistricting: Biggert, Walsh, Dold, Kinzinger, Schilling, and Johnson.

Danger, Democrats!
The Democrats are running a great risk in their new map, however.  By diluting the Democratic votes of Chicago, they may be making short-term gains, but could mean long-term problems for the Democrats.  The Republicans made this same mistake in the 2001 redistricting in Pennsylvania, with disastrous results.

Where do I live now?  Well, I am a block into the new 6th district, which should be fairly safely Peter Roskam’s district.  Just down the block is the new 11th district, which has no incumbent who lives in it.  The district houses much of Aurora and Joliet, which make it more Democratic in nature, and will make the district more competitive.

Find out where you live in the new map by clicking here.

Questions: What do you think of the Democrats’ gerrymandering job in Illinois?  Does Illinois (and other states) need a new way of redistricting?  You can leave your comments by clicking here.