As the unveiling of the new redistricting map for Illinois happened, everyone knew there was going to be controversy. Republicans would be up in arms with a state governor and both the state senate and general assembly with Democrat majorities making a Democrat-friendly map. That and also Illinois losing a congressional seat due to the population, the likely result would be to merge two districts to have two Republicans face off one another. But what came to be a major shock was recently when Chicago-area Democrat Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. said that he, along with two other Illinois congressional Democrats, would not support the new map.
First to the Republicans, as mentioned that due to the Illinois population growth rate being slower than most other states it has lost a seat to bring the state’s congressional seats number down to 18. Recently, the freshman Congressman Joe Walsh (R-North Barrington) of the 8th District announced that he would be running in the 14th District, the district currently occupied by fellow conservative freshman Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-Winfield). Comparing the current map with new proposed map here, the “new” 14th has essentially become half of what was the old 14th in most of Kane, most of Kendall, and part of DeKalb and a sliver of DuPage counties in addition to a small chunk of Will; and half of the old 8th with most of McHenry and part of Lake counties. The “new” 8th includes Elgin, Carpentersville and the surrounding areas in northeast Kane, the northwest of Cook County with Schaumburg, Streamwood and Hoffman Estates plus northern DuPage County which heavily makes the district even more Democrat-friendly. Raja Krishnamoorthi and Tammy Duckworth will be running as the Democrat nominees in the new 8th while there have been no confirmed candidates for the Republican side.
Congressman Walsh has become well-known not only on the Illinois stage but on the national scene appearing in many TV interviews, blasting President Obama over the administration’s handling of the economy and spending. Congressman Hultgren has had a relatively quieter term although he was vocal over the debt ceiling debate and voted against Speaker of the House John Boehner’s plan. In a statement from his campaign website, Walsh stated “I’ve decided to run for re-election from the district in which I live and where I represent most of my current constituents,“…“I will be running in what is the new 14th district.” Hultgren responded on his own campaign website, “The residents of the 14th District are looking for responsible leadership for the long haul, and know that if we are to turn this country around, fix our economy, and put Americans back to work we won’t be able to do it through political grandstanding, sound bites, and name calling.”
Although it is anybody’s guess at this point, in the new 16th district, Congressman Don Manzullo (R-Egan) and his district stretches from Winnebago and Boone Counties bordering Wisconsin down south and east to Iroquois County on the Indiana border. Much of the southern areas of the district were of the old 11th district’s freshman Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Manteno). As of now, Kinzinger has not decided whether he will be running in the 11th or 16th.
With the Democrats, what was once the original belief that all the Democrats, from the congressional to the state levels of government, were in unity supporting the new maps came not to be. Cold water was splashed over this belief when Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Chicago), along with fellow Chicago-area Democrat congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny Davis, announced they were against the new maps. “I have serious concerns that are likely to be aired in the legal process between both sides” said Congressman Jackson Jr. responding to the battle between the Democrats and Republicans in court over the map.
What once looked like a fight largely symbolic by the Republicans to fight the maps created by Democrat-majority in the governor’s office plus state senate and general assembly in a traditionally blue state, has started to pick up traction now with backlash from three prominent Democrat congressional officials. In the end, the map proposed by the Illinois state Democrats will likely prevail, and it appears that the Walsh vs. Hultgren battle for the 14th will ensue, potentially a duel between Manzullo versus Kinzinger in the 16th if Kinzinger indeed does run in that district, and even perhaps former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson from the 11th district may run against Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. in the 2nd. Oh, and next November just happens to be a Presidential Election year on top of all that. Hold on to your seatbelts, the road to 2012 is going to be a very bumpy ride!