Downstate Dems would be protected in proposed new House, Senate maps
New proposals for Illinois House and Senate districts could mean changes are ahead for many Springfield-area lawmakers and different ballot choices for voters in 2022.
State Sen. Doris Turner, a Springfield Democrat, likely would have an easier path to retain her seat in 2022 under the Illinois General Assembly redistricting map proposed by super-majority Democrats.
Much of Springfield would be included in the proposed new 48th Senate District, rather than part of the city. Turner no longer would represent southern Christian County, part of Montgomery County and other rural areas south of Sangamon County.
State Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, also would seem to benefit from the proposed House map. The proposed new 96th District would include a larger swath of Springfield and Decatur and less of the rural areas between the two central Illinois cities.
Scherer would represent more residents in downtown Springfield and areas around Washington Park. The Springfield portion of her existing district largely consists of the city’s east side and part of downtown.
Scherer said the proposed new district would be good for communities in Springfield and Decatur that usually have few representatives in public office.
Turner didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.
Democrats issued a news release on Friday saying the maps “comply with federal and state law and ensure the broad racial and geographic diversity of Illinois is reflected in the General Assembly.”
House and Senate Republicans, where they are in the super-minority, continued Monday to criticize details and timing of the proposed maps. Democrats released the redrawn map proposals for the 118 House and 59 Senate seats Friday night. All the seats are up for election in 2022.
Slightly more than a week remains in the spring session of the General Assembly, with May 31 scheduled as the adjournment day.
Republicans said they fear Democrats will rush to use their political power to approve the maps with a simple majority and send them to Gov. JB Pritzker, a Democrat, for his signature.
“The Democrats hit a new low,” said House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, chiding Welch for promising a “new day” of cooperation with Republicans and transparency after the departure of Chicago Democrat Mike Madigan as speaker in January.
“That ‘new day’ is worse than what we witnessed under Madigan,” Durkin said.
Jaclyn Driscoll, spokeswoman for House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, said Republicans apparently haven’t examined Democrats’ proposed maps in-depth.
“We are focusing on and looking forward to good-faith discussions in our bipartisan redistricting committees this week,” Driscoll said.
A spokesman for Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, didn’t respond to inquiries from The State Journal-Register.
State Reps. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, and Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, were drawn into a single House district under the map proposal.
Murphy lives south of Lake Springfield and currently represents the southwest half of Springfield and western Sangamon County in the 99th House District. Bourne represents parts of Christian, Montgomery, and Macoupin counties for the 95th House District.
The proposal would put them together in the 108th House District to represent the western and southern parts of Sangamon County, as well as part of Christian, Montgomery, Macoupin, and Madison counties. The change could force both to make career decisions.
“(The proposed district) shows how the process has been going. Here you go all the way from Springfield down to the Metro East area,” Murphy said. “I don’t take this map seriously. Look at the groups that are opposed to this. That should tell you this isn’t a serious effort.”
Murphy and Bourne say it’s too early to think about their political future and aren’t concerned about being pitted against each other under a possible map.
“This is bad for representation for those in the area,” Bourne said. “Take us out of the picture. This should not be drawn around incumbents. It should be drawn to keep communities of interest together. We’ve got school districts chopped up, communities chopped up, it’s no way to draw a map.”
Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, would be in the same House district as Rep. Randy Frese, R-Paloma, under the proposed map. They would be in the new 99th House District.
Davidsmeyer said the Democrats’ maps are part of “a corrupt process.”
Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield, said situations in which Republican incumbents were placed in the same district likely resulted from efforts to preserve the dwindling number of Democrats holding downstate seats in the General Assembly.
And even though Republicans called upon Pritzker to keep his promise to veto an “unfair” map, Redfield said he suspects Pritzker will approve the Democratic maps, call the maps fair, take the political heat from Republicans and put Democrats in a better strategic position if the maps are challenged in court.
Any changes mandated by courts likely would be based on maps that receive legislative approval, Redfield said.
The Illinois Constitution requires the legislature to approve the map proposals by June 30. If not, the map-making task would go to an independent commission with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans.
If that happens and the commission can’t reach agreement by Aug. 10, the name of an additional Republican or Democrat would be chosen from a hat and be added to the commission.
Such a scenario could give Republicans the chance of controlling the commission that would draw the map and potentially set the stage for Republican control of the legislature or a reduction in the Democrats’ House and Senate majorities, Redfield said.
When asked to respond to criticism of the Democrats’ maps, Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said, “The governor looks forward to reviewing the maps the General Assembly sends to his desk and is also looking forward to hearing input from community members and advocates during the legislative hearings taking place this week.”
Democrats set four hearings at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. for Tuesday and Wednesday to gather public feedback on the maps. The House plans to participate in the 4 p.m. hearings each day in person in Room 114 of the Capitol, but virtually for their Wednesday 6 p.m. hearing.
The Senate is only scheduled for virtual participation. Anyone interested in testifying at Senate hearings can email [email protected]
Under the Democrats’ House map, Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, would represent the 95th House District instead of the 87th district.
The new district would include northern parts of Springfield generally between Clear Lake Avenue and Veterans Parkway, a small section of west Springfield between Chatham Road and Archer Elevator Road, parts of Springfield south of Stanford Avenue, the over to Rochester, parts of Christian County including Taylorville, and rural areas of Macon County.
“I don’t think it’s helpful when you chop up the community like they do,” Butler said. “They just rearranged the partisan lines to take the latest political data to try to figure out what they want to do.
“I plan to run for reelection in whatever district I get drawn into,” Butler said. “I don’t think this is the final district today. I’m not worried about (campaigns) right now. I’m more worried about having maps that are much more fair than what we’ve rolled out than where my district lines end up.”
State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, would still represent the western half of Sangamon County, but his district would no longer proceed to the southwest toward the Mississippi River. Instead, his district would extend south to Madison County, over to Effingham, and north to the southern part of Decatur to include the communities of Litchfield, Pana, and Shelbyville.
State Sen. Sally Turner, R-Beason, would no longer represent part of Sangamon County.
Much of the area north of Sangamon County in Menard County and to the north and west would be in a House district stretching west to the Mississippi River and north near the Quad Cities.
Butler currently represents Petersburg but would lose that community under the proposed House map.
“We had so many people testify at these hearings (say) ‘Don’t carve up my county,’” Butler said. “Petersburg’s House district goes all the way to the Quad Cities now. What does Petersburg have in common with Rock Island?”
Democrats have said the redrawn maps use American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau. They have not released data about individual districts despite House Redistricting Committee chairwoman Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, telling reporters last week that data would be released with the maps.
The use of ACS data has been criticized by Republicans because it does not contain block-level data available in Census data that will be available in mid-August. Some advocates fear the data undercounts under-represented communities.
“Over 20 advocacy groups over the weekend put out a statement talking about how this is an undercount and a slap in the face to fair representation,” Bourne said. “If we aren’t counting all of Illinois’ residents, then the map is inherently flawed and we are not adequately representing them in the legislature.”
Congressional maps will come out at a later date and are not held to the same June 30 deadline as Illinois General Assembly maps.