Pritzker’s approval of the map was never in doubt after the first-term Democrat earlier this year signed a party-drawn map creating new boundaries for the state’s 177 legislative districts.
The new map has been criticized by Republicans, and with federal lawsuits alleging voting rights violations routine in redistricting legal challenges to the map signed by Pritzker are likely. But the governor on Tuesday defended the map.
“These maps align with the landmark Voting Rights Act and will ensure all communities are equitably represented in our congressional delegation,” Pritzker said in a statement.
Because Democrats control the General Assembly and the governor’s office, no Republican input was needed for the new map. That was also the case a decade ago, resulting in a map where Democrats have a 13-5 advantage over Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation.
News: Gov. Pritzker signs new congressional maps into law. Not unexpected, but notable that he waited until Thanksgiving week to do it. #twillpic.twitter.com/CIU9PrYB3Y
With the pandemic-delayed 2020 federal census showing Illinois’ first-time loss of population over a decade, the state’s representation in the U.S. House is dropping from 18 seats to 17. Democrats sought to draw boundaries that would give them a 14-3 edge in future elections.
The state’s congressional map was seen as critical not only to Democrats in Illinois, but to the party nationally given the narrow Democratic majority that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds heading into next year’s midterms, which normally favor the party out of power in the White House.
Even before Pritzker signed the new map into law, Republicans and Democrats were forced to confront the boundary changes.
Only hours after the map was approved by legislators on Oct. 29, six-term Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon, a vocal opponent of former President Donald Trump and his continued leadership of the party, opted not to seek reelection. Kinzinger had been placed into a district with four-term U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood of Peoria, a staunch Trump supporter.
First-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Marie Newman of La Grange decided to challenge two-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove after being mapped into a heavily Latino district represented by U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Oakland was mapped into a district with four-term U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro. Bost has announced he will seek reelection. Miller has not said what she will do. She could choose to challenge five-term U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, whose neighboring district includes some of her present district.
Members of Congress do not have to live in the district they represent.
Pritzker’s signature also means it will be decision time for Davis, who is in a heavily Republican central Illinois district under the new map. Davis has been exploring a potential run for the GOP nomination for governor and aides said he would make a decision on his political future when the new boundaries become law.
The new map also creates a new second Latino influence district, a reflection of the state’s increased Latino population. The open-seat district stretches from the Northwest Side of Chicago westward to include Latino communities in Bensenville, Addison and West Chicago.
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Chicago Ald. Gilbert Villegas, 36th, has announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the district, and others are expected to run.
Democrats also created a new open seat district that runs from the Metro-East area near St. Louis and goes northeast to include Democratic voters in Springfield, Decatur and Champaign. Former Pritzker aide Nikki Budzinski has announced for the Democratic nomination in that contest.
The new map also attempts to create a Democratic-leaning western Illinois district to maintain a seat held by five-term U.S. Rep. Cherri Bustos of Moline, who is not seeking reelection. The district extends to Democratic areas in Rockford before heading south to try to pick up Democrats in Peoria and Bloomington.
Several Democrats have announced their candidacies to try to replace Bustos. Bustos’ last GOP opponent, Esther Joy King of East Moline, also is running.
When Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Illinois Way Forward Act into law in August, he put the state squarely on the side of a growing movement against the federal government’s vast immigration detention system. The law banned cities and counties statewide from renting out beds in their jails to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and it required counties that already had ICE detention contracts to end them by Jan. 1.