Republicans 2010 victories in President Barack Obamas home state of Illinois may not be enough to stave off redistricting problems for the GOP in 2012.
The defeats of Democratic Reps. Melissa Bean, Bill Foster, Debbie Halvorson and Phil Hare will limit Democratic-held seats to the Chicago area in the 112th Congress, with the exception of Democrat Jerry Costello in the southwestern corner of the state. But Democrats held the majority in both chambers of the state Legislature, giving the party the upper hand in redistricting.
At least one of the ousted Democrats will be watching how state lawmakers redraw the district lines as he weighs another run for Congress.
Hare said he would make a decision about whether to run by late spring. He represented one of the most gerrymandered districts in the country, a squiggle on the map designed to send a Democrat to Congress, but he lost this month to Republican Bobby Schilling, a pizzeria owner and first-time candidate.
My guess is with [Republican Rep. Don] Manzullo having to lose population and the former Halvorson and Foster districts having to lose population, theres some very good territory, he said. Hare said he would want to represent the Quad Cities again and wouldnt shy away from a rematch with Schilling.
Democrats also controlled the state Legislature during redistricting following the 2000 census, but the advantage didnt cut into the GOP Congressional delegations numbers in the 2002 elections. In fact, Illinois lost a seat in the reapportionment, and it was a Democratic-held district that was eliminated. The Democrat, two-term Rep. David Phelps, then lost a race against Republican Rep. John Shimkus, and the Illinois House delegation went from 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats to 10 Republicans and nine Democrats.
Illinois is expected to lose another seat to reapportionment after the 2010 census, and Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, said he expects Springfield Democrats to draw a partisan map without much Republican input this time around. Theyll shove this thing right down our throats, and theyll put a smile on while they do it, and we understand that, he said.
Its a charge Democratic state Sen. Kwame Raoul denies. Raoul, who represents a strip of Chicagos lakefront, chairs the Senate Redistricting Committee and will likely retain that job in the next legislative session.
Having won both chambers and the governors race, we could say, Oh well, to hell with transparency and so forth, but thats not what were doing, he said. Thats not what we were elected to do.
Efforts were made in 2010 to change Illinois redistricting process, but they fell short. Both Democrats and Republicans offered variations on creating an independent commission to draw the lines, subject to the state Legislatures approval. The concept stalled over disagreements about how to form the commission and who should be on it, among other problems.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.