chapter  7
22 Pages

The Redistricting Process

The Illinois Democratic Party sensed an opportunity. Coming off a disappointing midterm election in 2010, the party intended to take full advantage of the upcoming redistricting-a process in which state legislative and congressional districts are redrawn after the most recent census. With majorities in both houses of the state legislature and a Democratic governor, the party would control the redistricting process. And control they did. The party made two districts-the 10th and the 17th-that had Democratic leanings but elected Republicans in 2010 more Democratic. They drew another district-the 16th-to encompass the hometowns of two incumbent Republicans who then ran against each other in the primary. They “packed” already strong Republican districts, like the 6th and 14th-with even more Republicans making Democratic candidates competitive in other districts, such as the 8th. Longtime Republican incumbent Judy Biggert saw her district-the 13th-divided into six other districts. She ended up running in the 11th district only to lose to her opponent, Bill Foster. Biggert was not the only Republican to lose after the Democrats implemented their new district maps. Before the redistricting, the Republican Party had an 11-to 8-seat advantage in the state’s congressional delegation. After the redistricting, the Democrats held a 12-to 6-seat advantage.1