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Illinois Democrats Target GOP Freshmen With New Map

File Photo
Illinois' new map puts freshman Republican Reps. Joe Walsh (above) and Randy Hultgren in the new 14th district.

Illinois Democrats released an aggressive new Congressional map Friday, appearing to have made every effort possible to not only win back the four seats they lost in November but also create additional potential gains for the party.

Illinois is considered to be a major redistricting prize for Democrats, who are shut out of the mapmaking process in many key states that are either gaining or losing seats. But Democrats, who control the state Legislature, drew up the new map for Illinois — which is losing one House seat in 2012 — and the result is new Congressional boundaries that either eliminate or drastically alter districts represented by current GOP Members.

The state Legislature is reportedly expected to vote on the new map this weekend, just a couple of days before the Tuesday deadline to finish the map before the legislative session. However, national Democrats warn that there also might be additional tweaks to the map before it comes up for a vote.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the major changes in the new map:

The non-competitive 1st district, currently held by Rep. Bobby Rush (D), did not change greatly. It's still a heavily Democratic district.

But the 2nd district, held by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D), changed substantially and now stretches south to include parts of Will and Kankakee counties — the latter of which is the home of freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R).

If both Jackson and Kinzinger opt to run for re-election in the 2nd, the two would set up an incumbent matchup in a Democratic district, so the Republican might be better off moving and running in a more Republican district. Kinzinger’s closest option is the new 16th district, which stretches from Rep. Don Manzullo’s (R) base in Rockford to the state’s eastern border.

The partisan nature of the 3rd district in southeastern suburban Chicago did not change greatly under the new map. The 3rd is held by four-term Rep. Dan Lipinski (D), and his re-election prospects might have even improved as a result of some creative line-drawing.

As state Speaker Michael Madigan’s (D) closest ally in the delegation, Lipinski likely had a lot of say in what his new district would look like — and it shows. Wealthy businessman John Atkinson had already announced he would challenge Lipinski in the Democratic primary in 2012, but his current residence of Burr Ridge has conveniently been moved into the new 11th district where no incumbent Member of Congress currently resides.

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