Redistricting, Illinois 2021


Illinois Redistricting Maps for 2021 | Photo Credit: Capitol News Illinois

On October 14, Illinois Democrats unveiled their proposed Congressional redistricting map. Redistricting, which takes place once every ten years, has become a political and disputed game. Since 2003, Democrats have held control of both state houses as well as three of the last four governorships. Democrats, with the trifecta, have free will to pass through maps without interference from a gubernatorial veto.

The 2020 Census showed that Illinois lost a significant portion of its population for the first time since 1818. This loss decreases the number of Illinois Congressional seats to 17. Republicans currently hold just five of the 18 congressional seats in Illinois. The loss of a seat gives Democrats an opportunity to challenge a Republican in a left-leaning district.

Adam Kinzinger, presently serving the 16th Congressional district, has become an outspoken dissident of former President Donald Trump. The proposed map would put Kinzinger in the new 3rd district. Democrat Marie Newman currently serves much of the proposed district. The proposed 3rd district would remove the Southwest side of Newman’s district while adding Ottawa and Lasalle. Kinzinger could be in trouble as Newman’s district is left-leaning. However, Adam Kinzinger has quickly made a name for himself. If Kinzinger can appeal to moderates, a race in the new 3rd could be closer than expected. Kinzinger’s current district would be dissolved into Rep. Lauren Underwood, Rep. Cheri Bustos and other districts.

Locally, the proposed map would pit Rep. Mary Miller and Rep. Darin LaHood against each other in the new 16th district. Miller loses much of her current constituency in the change. This looks to be a strategic move by Democrats to remove Miller from the picture. Miller, who is best known for her comments regarding Hitler prior to the events on Jan. 6, will find a tough battle against 10-year incumbent Lahood who has strong ties to the area.

Currently there is no sitting representative who lives within the proposed 13th Congressional district. Rep. Rodney Davis currently occupies the 13th and would lose his hometown of Taylorville in the proposed map. Davis can still run in the 13th Congressional district, but the representative faced a series of tough elections against Democrat Betsy Dirksen-Londrigan. While emerging victorious in both elections, Davis’ new district is left-leaning. In addition to Champaign-Urbana, the proposed 13th congressional district includes parts of Decatur, a majority of Springfield, Alton, East St. Louis, Belleville and Edwardsville.

The proposed map intends to increase the Democrat elected congressional aggregate to fourteen leaving just three seats for Republicans. That said, the proposed map from Democrats is a flimsy one. Rep. Mike Bost’s seat has only been strengthened through the new map, consuming nearly all of southern Illinois. Rep. Rodney Davis would need a strong Democrat with staunch fundraising power to challenge in 2022. LaHood has the clear advantage over Miller currently and should be considered a lock through the primary. Kinzinger’s race is a bit of a toss-up. Kinzinger has fundraised handsomely in response to condemning former President Trump’s fraudulent election claims as well as the GOP for spreading COVID-19 vaccine propaganda. Rep. Cheri Bustos, Democrat, of the current 17th congressional district recently announced that she would be retiring in 2022. Bustos, who won by less than 13,000 votes last election may be leaving an open playing field in her absence. Bustos’s district saw minimal changes in the proposed map.

Both Davis and Kinzinger have signaled interest in running for governor of Illinois. This would prove to be a tough task as relatively solid  approval ratings, wealth, coupled with polarization in the Republican party makes J.B. Pritzker a tough opponent.

Current maps are subject to change. On October 21, a federal court threw out Democrats’ proposed map on the state legislature from June 2021 claiming it violated the “one-person, one vote” principle. The case was brought by the Democratic Mexican Legal Defense and Educational Fund as well as the Republican Party of Illinois.