SPRINGFIELD, IL — With the latest U.S. Census data released last week, Republicans expect Illinois’ majority Democrats will produce a partisan map where Illinois loses a seat at the table.
U.S. Census Bureau’s James Whitehorne was part of the announcement last week when the agency released the data “that states may choose to use in redrawing their state’s legislative and congressional districts,” he said.
“These data provide the first look of at the demographic characteristics of the nation by state, county, city, down the individual Census block,” Whitehorne said.
The Illinois legislative maps Democrats approved in June are being challenged in the courts with Republicans saying they’re based on estimates and out of whack with unequal districts.
Proposed maps for seats for the U.S. House of Representatives have yet to be released. Illinois will lose a seat in Congress as a result of the state’s declining population.
State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, expects Democrats will try to reduce Republican districts.
“So obviously Illinois lost a seat, we’re only one of three states in the country that lost population this last time, which really is an indictment on the way that we’ve managed this state over this last decade,” Butler said. “This is a process that is going to be very partisan and my guess is at the end of the day the Democrats will try to get through a map that continues to reduce the Republicans in Congress and that’s unfortunate.”
Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch’s office Monday said experts are reviewing the data, but didn’t have any immediate updates. Senate President Don Harmon’s office didn’t return messages seeking comment.
State Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee, and state Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, vice chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee, said if changes need to be made, they are willing to make those changes.
“While we continue to analyze the information released by the U.S. Census Bureau, our commitment to the people of Illinois remains the same: we support a fair map that reflects the broad racial and geographic diversity of Illinois,” they said in a statement. “As we go through this review process, if it becomes clear that updates need to be made, we will take the appropriate steps to do so. This has been a unique Census, and it’s important we take time to fully understand the data. This includes the impact of ‘differential privacy,’ which is used by the Census Bureau to protect identities of respondents but may also result in inaccuracies, especially in more ethnically and racially diverse communities.”
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis has held a seat for five terms. He said he wants there to be what he called a fair map “that represents 40% of the overall electorate in the state of Illinois that are Republicans.”
Davis said he is waiting to see what the map looks like before deciding his next political step.
“Hold on to your seats, we’ll see what kind of political gerrymandering they put forward, and then we’ll all make decisions based upon that battlefield,” he said.
Davis’ name has been floated as a potential gubernatorial campaign, although he’s made no such pronouncements.