(The Center Square) – In the wake of Illinois Democrats releasing their latest version of the state’s congressional district map, a House redistricting hearing Tuesday was dominated by those in opposition.
Democrats, who control the redistricting process in Illinois, released the latest version on Saturday. The latest version includes a second Latino district, two primary matchups involving Republican incumbents, and surprisingly, a primary battle between Democratic incumbents.
At the onset of the hearing, Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, brought attention to the late notice that was given regarding the hearing.
“There’s all the talk about transparency and trying to do all we can with all the hearings but I do find it amazing that this hearing today did not get posted until late yesterday afternoon,” said Butler. “This is a hearing that could have been posted six days ago.”
Nearly all who testified were opposed to the latest version of the map, except for Democratic activist Andy Ellison.
“There are going to be winners and losers, and the goal should be to make everyone about as happy as possible as you can, and I think this map strives in a way to make as many people as happy as possible,” said Ellison.
The new proposed map pits U.S. Rep. Marie Newman of LaGrange and U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove, both Democrats, in a potential primary. That is different from the first version, which had Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon drawn into Newman’s district. The revised version would put Kingzinger’s hometown into the same district as Republican U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood of Dunlap.
The revised map also means a potential GOP primary showdown between U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Oakland and U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro.
Several districts wind through various parts of the state on thin strips of land. That includes the 13th district, which runs from Champaign to the north to Belleville in the south, making its way westward and including several downstate cities along the way.
Military veteran and former congressional candidate Joel Funk testified the map divides communities throughout the state.
“This map puts Americans in not just opposing political tribes but competing economic interests as well,” Funk said. “It expands the rural-urban divide. This is not a path we want to continue to go down.”
Republicans and advocacy groups have blasted the mapmaking process as partisan gerrymandering and lacking transparency. The Democrats first version was given an “F” grade by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, which grades congressional maps on partisan fairness, geographical compactness and other factors.
“These maps do one thing only, they give Democrats a partisan advantage,” said state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon. “They pit voters against each other, they dilute the impact that voters in different communities around the state of Illinois can hope to have for their elected officials. It’s a sham, it’s unfair, it’s undemocratic, and it should not happen in this Capitol.”