Updated 3:20 p.m. | It’s not even 2016 yet, but the filing deadline for candidates in Illinois came and went on Tuesday. Democrats failed to recruit top-tier candidates in two competitive districts, which means the map Democrats drew after the last census will fall short of its desired intent once again.
In the last round of redistricting, Democratic majorities in the state Legislature redrew the congressional map to favor Democratic candidates, and the party controlled two-thirds of the delegation (12 of 18 districts) after the 2012 elections. The only Democratic or swing district that Democrats didn’t win was the 13th, where Republican Rodney Davis won a narrow victory.
But after a terrible set of midterm elections in 2014, the Democratic share of the Illinois delegation is down to just 56 percent (10 of 18 districts).
It looks like Democrats have only one takeover opportunity in 2016: the 10th District. GOP Rep. Robert J. Dold looks likely to face off against former Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider for the third consecutive cycle. Schneider won in 2012, Dold in 2014, each by about 2 percentage points. Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering is running against Schneider in the Democratic primary.
At this stage in the race, there is no reason to believe this cycle will be any different. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call continue to rate the race as a Tossup.
In the 12th District, Democratic insiders haven’t been enthusiastic about attorney C.J. Baricevic for much of the year, but he is the only Democrat to file against Republican Mike Bost. Baricevic raised $178,000 through September and finished the month with $103,000 in the bank. That’s a mediocre total for any congressional candidate.
Democrats under-estimated Bost for much of last cycle, yet he defeated Democratic Rep. Bill Enyart, 53 percent to 42 percent. Now, the Republican incumbent will be difficult to unseat. The congressman had $650,000 in the bank on September 30, in a district that can be difficult for candidates to raise money.
It looks like Democrats will wait for Bost to lose the race, instead of trying to help Baricevic win it. We’re changing the rating from Republican Favored to Safe for Republicans.
In the 13th District, Democrats had high hopes for their challenger last cycle, but Davis defeated former judge Ann Callis, 59 percent to 41 percent. Former Macon County Board Member Mark Wicklund was the only Democrat to file this cycle, and he didn’t even announce his bid until about a month ago. Meanwhile, Davis had $875,000 on hand at the end of September.
But the most complicating factor might be David Gill. He came within less than one-half of 1 percent of defeating Davis in 2012 in an open seat race, without much help from the Democratic party establishment. But now Gill plans to run as an independent. If he gets on the ballot, it’s probably impossible for Davis to lose.
The 13th District remains Safe Republican.
Illinois is an example of why Democrats are such long shots to win back the House next cycle. If they can’t maximize their gains in Illinois, they’ll have to make up for it elsewhere, likely in less friendly territory to net the 30 seats necessary for a majority.
And Illinois is also a good example of how candidates, campaigns, and cycles matter, even when a party draws a congressional map with certain partisan intentions.
Correction: An earlier version of the story misstated the partisan makeup of the delegation after the 2010 elections and Wicklund's current position.
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