SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — The House and Senate are coming back for a single day of special session on Tuesday to re-draw legislative political maps three months after they drew the last versions. The new revisions could have major implications in a pending court case and will influence which political party has the upper hand in elections for the next decade.
Don’t expect statehouse Republicans to support the second round of legislative maps coming up for a vote in the General Assembly on Tuesday. The newly revised redistricting plans will spell political doom for up to eight incumbent Republicans in the legislature, or at the very least could pressure them to seek a different office than the one they hold now.
According to an independent review of the new legislative redistricting data, 14 House Republicans will have to face off against one of their colleagues in a primary next year or seek another office, while two Senate Republicans will face the same primary gauntlet to re-election.
Experts who reviewed the map lines said the partisan gerrymandering will likely stack the political odds even further in favor of Democrats who already hold supermajorities in both chambers.
“To no one’s surprise, this is a partisan map,” redistricting analyst Frank Calabrese said on Monday night. “This will guarantee a Democratic supermajority, in my opinion, for the next 10 years. So in terms of a partisan map, this is a very good map for the Democrats.”
Calabrese scraped the data from the House and Senate maps and compiled them in a web app that compares district lines with legislators’ home addresses to reveal which incumbents might get drawn out of the General Assembly in the upcoming 2022 election.
In the House, Democrats drew the following Republicans into the same legislative districts:
- Representatives Mike Murphy (R-Springfield) and Avery Bourne (R-Raymond)
- Representatives Chris Miller (R-Oakland) and Adam Niemerg (R-Teutopolis)
- Representatives Joe Sosnowksi (R-Rockford) and Steve Reick (R-Woodstock)
- Representatives Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) and Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville)
- Representatives Amy Grant (R-Wheaton) and Seth Lewis (R-Bartlett)
- Representatives C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville) and Randy Frese (R-Quincy)
- Representatives Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) and Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich)
Democrats drew Representative Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) into the same district with his colleague Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville), but Caulkins said he plans to re-establish residency in a district next door to attempt to outmaneuver the gerrymander.
The new maps also spared some Republicans who were bracing for primary battles under the maps that were passed in May. Representatives Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) and Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) are no longer paired together in the same district, as well as Representatives Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) and Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport), who will each enjoy the benefit of incumbency in safe districts in the upcoming election.
Calabrese projected the Democrats could pick up six or seven House seats under the gerrymandered maps, but could potentially lose one or two seats in the Senate.
“They’re probably gonna have 80 members [in the House],” he said. “I also have the Democrats actually losing seats in the Senate, because what they did is they really catered to their members. And so there’s like no swing districts in the Senate. The seats are either really Republican or really Democratic.”
Senate Democrats drew Senators Darren Bailey (R-Louisville) and Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) into the same district, though Bailey has already declared a primary run for governor in 2022.
Republicans have filed legal challenges in federal court under the Voting Rights Act which argue the initial maps the legislature adopted in May did not match the required criteria with wild discrepancies in population totals in some districts. The new maps will correct those errors that relied on census estimates.
“I think the maps that were drawn in May are void, that they’re not valid, that they’re not effective, which is the word that’s used in the constitution,” Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) said on Monday.
Democrats said in April and May that the maps they signed would be accurate. When the U.S. Census Bureau published the delayed data earlier this month, it became clear that they were not.
“The Trump administration was unable to get the census done in time,” Governor Pritzker said last Monday. “Following the constitution here in Illinois, a redistricting package was passed and signed, and now that the federal administration has delivered the full census, the legislature is going to look at whether or not it needs to — or wants to — change the lines. And then they’ll deliver a package to me to consider.”
Democrats in the General Assembly plan to push the maps through on Tuesday, with or without support from Republicans or other outside advocacy groups.
Common Cause Illinois, a voting rights group, slammed the process as “pure politics” and publicly announced it would not testify before a committee hearing on Monday night.
“This latest, last-minute hearing provides almost no notice to the public,” Executive Director Jay Young said. “The new maps have been released less than a day before lawmakers vote on them. It’s shameful, and our organization refuses to add any legitimacy to such an undemocratic process.”
“The constitutional deadline was met,” Pritzker said. “There was a redistricting plan that was passed by June 30th. That’s the constitutional deadline. But you’ve seen all around the country that — even during the past 10 years — that there have been changes made to redistricting plans. And so, you know, I imagine that the legislature will consider making those changes now.”
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a federal lawsuit in June that argues the state’s legislative maps violate the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection clause that guarantees “one person, one vote.”
“Latinos are 15% of the population,” Calabrese explained, “so proportionally, they should have more than 10 districts.” However, “Latinos didn’t get anything from this [new map],” he said.
The last maps created 10 House districts out of 118 that included a majority of Hispanic or Latino voters. The new maps did not create any additional majority-Latino voter districts, prompting Calabrese to predict MALDEF would “probably continue their lawsuit.”
Attorneys for MALDEF have not yet responded to requests seeking comment.
“I definitely hear what they’re saying,” Rep. Edgar Gonzales (D-Chicago) said. His 23rd district is comprised of 84% Latino voters, the highest population density of Latinos in any House district in the state. “In the end, [MALDEF] just wants to make sure they have the best map for all Latinos.”
“I think the numbers are there,” Gonzales said. “Latinos, there are huge pockets of them in certain areas, but the way they’ve kind of dispersed across not just Chicago but the whole Chicagoland and Cook County area, even into other collar counties, it has been, to be quite honest, kind of abnormal.”
“If those maps aren’t effective, that means we should be to the bipartisan commission that’s set up under the Constitution, in my opinion, but obviously, the Democrats don’t believe that,” Butler said.
While Democrats hold nearly twice as many seats as their Republican counterparts, their members were spared from primary runoffs against their own colleagues, except for Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park), who would have to face off against Senator Suzy Glowiak (D-Western Springs) under the revised maps.
Democrats are “trying to push out Cullerton,” Calabrese said of the western suburban lawmaker who is fighting federal corruption charges in court. “His cousin is not the Senate President anymore, and he’s not welcome.”