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Madigan Enters Redistricting Hall of Fame

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Madigan Enters Redistricting Hall of Fame
Jack Higgins
Madigan Enters Redistricting Hall of Fame

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In western Illinois’ 17th District, which now reaches into Rockford and Peoria, ambitious Democrats are already queueing up to run against freshman Rep. Bobby Schilling. According to the Quad City Times, state Sen. Dave Koehler is running.

Former Rock Island Mayor Mark Schwiebert, former state Rep. Mike Boland and East Moline Alderwoman Cheri Bustos all have said they’re considering candidacies. Also, Porter McNeil, who used to be the spokesman for former state comptroller Dan Hynes, said Friday he’s considering it, too.

If a Democrat wins, you can be sure he or she will express proper gratitude to the man who drew such a friendly map. 

Illinois’ new Congressional map, which was designed to threaten the careers of all five Republican freshmen, may ensure Michael Madigan a place in history as one of the greatest gerrymanderers since Elbridge Gerry himself. POLITICO puts Madigan’s map in the partisan redistricting Hall of Fame, along with five other maps that helped determine which party would control Congress.

With a muscular and mostly invisible back-room display that forged a Democratic redistricting plan that likely will gain his party a handful of House seats and end the careers of several GOP incumbents, the longtime speaker entered the pantheon of state power brokers whose efforts rippled well beyond their state capital and helped reshape Congress, for better or for worse.

Madigan’s masterstroke, and its expected effect, ranks him with other storied pols whose mapmaking exploits have become the stuff of political legend.

Madigan’s peers include Rep. Phil Burton, who drew a 1981 California map that added six seats to the Democratic Party’s majority, thus guaranteeing a check on newly-elected President Ronald Reagan and Rep. Tom DeLay, draftsman of the notorious 2003 Texas mid-term redistricting, which added six Republican seats.

Those maps had one thing in common with Illinois’ map: They were drawn in the home state of the incumbent president. Clearly, Madigan hopes to help President Obama win back the one branch of government he doesn’t control: the House of Representatives. Having the home-state president at the top of the ticket should help Madigan’s cartography achieve its maximum effect.

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