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Race Ratings: Illinois Democrats’ Map Makes GOP Sweat

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Joe Walsh’s (above) home was drawn out of Illinois’ new 8th district. Walsh has said he will run in the 14th district, setting up a GOP primary race with Rep. Randy Hultgren.

It's well-known that Lipinski's father — also his predecessor — is close with state Speaker Michael Madigan. That paid off big time for Lipinski in the redraw.

Earlier this year, wealthy health care executive John Atkinson (D) announced that he would challenge Lipinski because the Congressman voted against the health care overhaul bill.

But Madigan conveniently drew Atkinson's home into a nearby district instead, giving Lipinski a clear path to re-election. Atkinson has since dropped his bid for Congress altogether.

Lipinski will also have to watch the quickly growing Hispanic community that makes up almost 25 percent of the voting-age population of his district. There are several local Latino lawmakers who could mount primary challenges in future cycles.

4th district
Incumbent: Luis Gutierrez (D)
10th term (77 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Gutierrez will almost certainly win re-election. So it's ironic his district proved to be one of the most controversial in the redraw.

Insiders deemed the district "the earmuffs" for its awkward "C" shape around parts of metropolitan Chicago. But the shape of the district didn't change much in the redraw: It's the burgeoning Latino population that's attracted unfavorable attention.

Almost 66 percent of the voting-age population in the redrawn 4th is Hispanic. But Republicans say there are enough Hispanics in the greater Chicago area to warrant a second district. That's the Illinois GOP delegation's primary legal complaint.

It's likely the GOP lawsuit will fail. But Jackson didn't help the Democrats' defense by publicly raising concerns about a second Latino district.

Either way, Gutierrez shouldn't have a problem holding on to his seat.

5th district
Incumbent: Mike Quigley (D)
1st full term (71 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

The current 5th district stretches horizontally from Lake Michigan to the western Chicago suburbs. It includes a diverse mix of affluent lakeshore residents, Wrigley Field, the city's largest gay community and predominantly Polish suburban sprawl.

Believe it or not, Democrats redrew this district to make it even more eclectic — extending it to the border of Lipinski's South Side Chicago seat, adding most of O'Hare International Airport and some eastern suburbs in DuPage County and packing in some Republicans.

Quigley won this seat in a special election after Rahm Emanuel became White House chief of staff.

Democrats drew GOP Rep. Judy Biggert's Hinsdale home into the southwestern end of this district. But Republicans say there's no way she will run for re-election in this mostly urban, heavily Democratic district.

6th district
Incumbent: Peter Roskam (R)
3rd term (64 percent)
Rating: Likely Republican

Roskam is one of the few Illinois Republicans who got lucky with the Democrats' new map — he's the only Member living in this GOP-leaning district west of Chicago.

On the down side for Roskam, he has plenty of new territory. Only 25 percent of his current district is in the redrawn 6th. But it's mostly solid GOP territory. And Roskam is simply a terrific candidate. He's quickly ascended the ranks of House leadership, boasts $1.7 million in the bank and is a strong campaigner. He won't break a sweat winning a fourth term.

7th district
Incumbent: Danny Davis (D)
8th term (82 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

The changes to this district were minimal because it's still based in downtown Chicago. The 7th is nestled in between the "earmuffs" of Gutierrez's predominantly Hispanic district.

Davis' district also includes a black voting-age population of slightly more than 50 percent.

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