Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

2nd District Now Belongs To Suburbs

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Jackson announced his candidacy for Illinois’ Congressional seat in September of 1995. He easily won the primary with the highest voter turnout as the favored candidate in the special general election.

    Phil Kadner, a columnist for the Southtown Star, a newspaper circulated in the south suburbs, does not want to see another Chicagoan in Congress. 

    Writes Kadner:
    "If suburban political leaders don’t get behind a candidate to fill Jesse Jackson’s former congressional seat, the Unholy Trinity of Chicago will.

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel, state Democratic Party leader Michael Madigan and Cook County Democratic Party chairman Joe Berrios know an opportunity when they see one.

    As I pointed out in Sunday’s column, 75 percent of the voters who cast ballots Nov. 6 in the 2nd Congressional District contest live outside Chicago.

    Voters in Suburban Cook County accounted for nearly 153,964 of the votes in that race; Chicago 76,506 ballots and Will and Kankakee counties another 66,000 votes combined.

    With less than 20 percent of those voters casting Republican ballots, the next congressman from the 2nd District should be a suburban Democrat."
    The 2nd District used to be more Chicago-centric, but was extended into the suburbs by Madigan, as part of his attempt to maximize the number of Democratic congressional seats in Illinois.
    If that happens, there will only be only four congressmen living in the city of Chicago -- Danny Davis, Mike Quigley, Luis Gutierrez and Bobby Rush. Reps. Peter Roskam, Jan Schakowsky and Dan Lipinksi all represent part of the city, but live in the suburbs. That would have to be an all-time low. In the mid-1960s, when Illinois had 24 congressional seats, and Mayor Richard J. Daley’s influence was at its pinnacle, nine congressmen resided in the city.
    Kadner makes a very good point regarding the Southland's claim on the 2nd District seat: “Chicago political leaders have spent the past two decades driving the poor out of the city and into the south suburbs.” Suburbs such as Blue Island, Harvey, Phoenix, Dixmoor and Homewood have filled up with former Chicagoans exiled from public housing and poor neighborhoods. Although the Loop nearly doubled in population during the 2000s, the city lost 200,000 residents, most of them poor blacks. As the price of our efforts to make the city more comfortable for the creative classes, we may now lose yet another seat in Congress.
    So far, four of the announced contenders for Jackson’s seat are suburbanites -- former Rep. Debbie Halvorson of Crete, state Sen.-elect Napoleon Harris of Dixmoor, postal worker Marcus Lewis of Matteson, and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields. The only Chicagoan is state Sen. Donne Trotter. 

     

    This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $9.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.