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Democratic Illinois Trio Voices Ire Over Map

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Last week, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. went ballistic over Illinois redistricting lines during a Democratic delegation meeting, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

Democrats hailed Illinois’ new Congressional map as a work of redistricting art earlier this year, but now the three black Democrats in the delegation are raising serious objections.

Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr., Bobby Rush and Danny Davis have concerns about whether the new map adheres to the Voting Rights Act. The trio is also hesitant to help Democrats defend the map in court against a GOP lawsuit.

“I have serious concerns that are likely to be aired in the legal process between both sides,” Jackson said Tuesday evening.

Earlier this month, the lawmaker penned a letter to the president venting his frustration with the Justice Department. Last week, he went ballistic in a Democratic delegation meeting, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

“He was, in his own way, boisterous and bombastic and perhaps inappropriate in that meeting,” one of the sources said. “It seemed like a strange time to discuss that. There were several meetings when the map was being discussed in the first place.”

At the meeting, Democrats discussed how to pay for as much as  $500,000 in court fees to fight a GOP lawsuit challenging the new lines. The Illinois Democrats were asked to chip in $10,000 each from their campaign funds. But Davis said that he, Jackson and Rush refused to pay.

Earlier this year, Illinois Democrats crafted the most controversial and aggressive new Congressional map so far this cycle. The map dismantled the districts of several Republican Members — the vast majority of whom are suing to overturn the map in court.

In their lawsuit, Illinois Republicans argued the new map does not provide ample representation for Hispanic voters and proposed a new map with a second majority Hispanic district.

But now, Jackson, Davis and Rush are also concerned about minority representation under the new map.

“I’ve been asked by Congressman Rush and Congressman Davis to look into both maps and their implications for Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which all three of our districts are the byproduct of,” Jackson said Tuesday. “And at this time, I have not made a judgment, one way or the other.”

Davis confirmed separately that he is also undecided about how to deal with the map. Rush’s spokeswoman declined to comment.

Davis hinted his concerns might also be aired in the court fight over the GOP’s lawsuit.

“We haven’t made a full determination in relationship to where we’re going to be as we go through the lawsuit,” Davis said. “What we have not done is — we’re not certain we’ve looked at all of the data. We looked at some of the data, especially that which relates to Cook County.”

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