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Good Government/Reform Tue May 31 2011

Drawing the Partisan and Protective Map

For political junkies like myself there is little better than watching politicians subvert the electorate every ten years through the process of redistricting.

It happens every ten years after the constitutionally mandated census and requires states to reapportion Congressional districts. Watching how this ritual plays out suggests that maybe allowing elected officials to draw their own districts is not the best idea. They carve out neighborhoods and towns like turkey, looking for the juiciest bits of meat.

With Democrats controlling both chambers of the legislature as well as the Governor's mansion, the state party has redrawn the proposed map to benefit themselves. That is, after the 2012 elections.

The map below is from Rich Miller at Capitol Fax:

View Larger Map

Illinois loses one Congressional seat moving it down to 18. As a result it provides an opportunity to combine incumbents into one district. Illinois Democrats did this with unlucky incumbents.

No one currently elected Representative would live in the newly drawn 8th, 10th, or 11th districts. Freshmen Joe Walsh, Bob Dold and Adam Kinzinger move into the 14th, 9th and 2nd districts respectively. Longtime Representative Judy Biggert would share the 5th district with Mike Quigley. Walsh joins Randy Hultgren, which will set up a nice battle between who is more conservative.

Illinois' new map presents the Democratic party an opportunity to snag upwards of five Congressional districts and will likely see an infusion of national cash as the 2012 election nears. Needless to say, the redrawn map is garnering criticism.

Chicago's burgeoning Chinatown neighborhood should be in one congressional district, rather than fractured into three separate federal voting districts. That's the consensus of a coalition of Asian-American organizations that are calling on the Illinois General Assembly to "fine tune" the state's new map of congressional districts.

Or on the other side of the aisle:

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the Illinois map is how it puts 10 of the state's 11 congressional Republicans into districts with other incumbents. Not content to simply make their home districts more difficult, Democrats are forcing those incumbents to either run against fellow incumbents or run in districts where they don't live.

One aspect being forgotten is in the last election Republicans swept three Democratic controlled seats and won another open seat that leans blue. In a Presidential election more people turn out to vote and those people tend to be Democratic voters. That means that swing districts have a better chance to move into the Democratic side.

In the meantime Chicago area representatives will be in a frenzy to see how the pieces may fall. Will Adam Kinzinger run against Don Manzullo? What will Bob Dold do against Jan Schakowsky? Will we see the return of Bill Foster in the exurbs? And what the hell does John Atkinson do now that he lives in the proposed 11th district by two blocks?

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