Illinois Democrats Unveil Updated Congressional Maps

Illinois Democrats have unveiled updated congressional maps that propose a second Latino-leaning Chicago area district and could mean primary matchups for two Democratic incumbents in the suburbs and in two other races featuring Republican incumbents.

Democrats, who control state government and redistricting in Illinois, released the revised maps Saturday. The maps come weeks after their first draft of boundaries that were also aimed at giving Democratic candidates an advantage in elections as the party fights to keep control of the U.S. House in 2022.

State legislators are scheduled to meet in Springfield on Tuesday and Wednesday to consider the maps, which are redrawn every decade based on census data. Illinois, which currently has 18 U.S. House members, will lose a congressional seat because of population loss.

Under the new maps, a proposed congressional district would connect Latino populations on the northwest side of Chicago with the city's West Side and western suburbs for a second Latino-leaning district, in addition to the one currently represented by U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Chicago Democrat.

“The changes made in this updated congressional map will help ensure the diversity of Illinois is reflected in Washington,” state Sen. Omar Aquino, a Chicago Democrat who is chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee, said in a statement. “We appreciate the many advocacy groups and individuals that continue to guide our work with passion and dedication, as we remain focused on the creation of a fair map that will provide equal representation for all.”

The new proposed maps also mean some potential incumbent matchups next year. The Illinois primary is in June.

First-term Rep. Marie Newman of LaGrange and two-term Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove, both Democrats, would be in the same suburban Chicago district. That's different from the first version of the maps in which six-term Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon, one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump, was drawn into Newman's district. The revised maps would put Kinzinger's hometown into the same sprawling district as four-term Republican Rep. Darin LaHood of Dunlap, a strong Trump supporter.

The revised map also means a potential GOP primary matchup between first-term Rep. Mary Miller of Oakland and four-term Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro.

The Illinois Republican Party and advocacy groups have blasted the mapmaking process as partisan and lacking transparency. Democrats held several public hearings, but almost all were without any draft maps for the public to comment on and were attended mostly only by lawmakers.

Illinois GOP spokesman Joe Hackler on Sunday called the latest maps an “even more aggressive” plan to protect Democrats.

“As we said for the last version of the map, Illinois Democrats, led by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, have made it clear that they are willing to disenfranchise Illinois voters and break repeated campaign promises to do the bidding of (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and (Washington) D.C. power brokers," Hackler said in an email.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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