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See the new maps: Illinois Democrats propose new congressional boundaries

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Illinois Democrats on Friday unveiled their first draft of proposed new congressional boundaries, a plan aimed at increasing their advantage over Republicans in a downsized delegation.

The proposed map draws 17 congressional districts, down from 18 due to population shifts in the 2020 federal census. Census results showed that for the first time ever, Illinois lost population statewide.

The current congressional delegation is made up of 13 Democrats and five Republicans. With the House currently split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, Democrats — including the party’s national campaign committee — had pressed Illinois party leader to draw a map that offered the best opportunity to pick up seats.

Though more progressive Democrats argued for a map that could elect 15 Democrats and leave only two Republicans, Democratic leaders said privately they sided on a plan to ensure a more likely outcome of 14 Democrats and three Republicans.

The map would put Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon, an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump and his continued leadership of the national GOP, and first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Marie Newman of La Grange into the same district, one with a heavily Democratic tilt.

Kinzinger has said he intends to seek reelection to Congress rather than run for another office. Several potential GOP primary challengers who have pledged their allegiance to Trump have surfaced.

The map also pits freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Oakland against four-term GOP U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood of Peoria in a heavily Republican district. Miller has been an outspoken and controversial conservative who has aligned herself with the far right movement in the Republican Party. LaHood, who also has backed Trump, also is strongly conservative.

The map would put Republican U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis of Taylorville and Mike Bost of Murphysboro into their own districts, though Davis’ district would lean Democratic.

Davis, a five-term congressman, has said his political future would depend on the map they produced by Democrats. Davis has been exploring a potential run for the Republican nomination for governor to challenge first-term Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker if he believed his new district was unwinnable.

Despite calls from Latino voting rights activists for a second Latino-majority district, the plan keeps only one.

Democrats are expected to adopt a new congressional map during their scheduled six-day fall session that begins on Tuesday.

Democrats control the Illinois House and Senate as well as the governor’s office and can dictate the new map without any Republican input. The party did this earlier this year with the adoption of new state legislative boundaries.

But it is also likely the congressional map could undergo some slight changes before it is finally approved.

Regardless, redistricting and reapportionment maps, part of the once-every-decade process of drawing new political boundaries following the federal census, traditionally are subject to legal challenges over federal and state voting rights laws and issues of ethnic and racial fairness.

Such is the case with the state’s legislative maps, which are under a federal court challenge from the state’s Republicans as well as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Illinois House Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, a Cicero Democrat who chairs the chamber’s redistricting panel, called the plan “an excellent first draft that amplifies diverse voices and gives every person in our state a say in government.”

Illinois state Sen. Elgie Sims of Chicago, the Democrat who chairs that chamber’s remap panel, said the proposed map “is an effort to ensure every community across our state receives fair and equal representation in Washington.”

Each chamber’s redistricting panels has scheduled a Wednesday hearing on the new map with other hearings planned before a final vote, likely at the end of the legislature’s six-day session.

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