Guest Comment | mysterious candidate for Congress in Chicago | Guest Comment
Illinois’ new congressional map has the dubious distinction of being one of the most gerrymandered in the nation. Princeton University’s Gerrymandering Project rated it an “F.”
And the new 13th congressional district in central Illinois is perhaps the most gerrymandered in Illinois.
When Governor JB Pritzker signed the final maps into law last year, a News-Gazette article reported that the governor defended gerrymandered districts saying, “These maps align with historic rights law voting rights and ensure that all communities are fairly represented in our Congressional delegation.
The 13th District is a narrow, rolling area representing seven southern Illinois counties. Six of them are each split between two or more congressional districts. The 13th contains only one entire county – the mostly rural Macoupin County.
The six counties divided are Champaign, Macon (Decatur), Piatt rural, Sangamon (Springfield), and the two Metro East counties of Madison and St. Clair.
Mapmakers in Illinois did not limit themselves to carving only townships, cities, and counties. They also divided the neighborhoods.
Constituencies are the smallest electoral unit to be reported. Of the 662 constituencies of the 13th arrondissement, 74 are distributed on the new map. Thus, measuring Democratic election performance will only be accurate after voters cast ballots in the upcoming 2022 primary and general elections.
However, there are rough estimates.
Democratic performance represents the “percentage of votes an average Democratic candidate can expect in an average election year” based on past election history.
Democratic performance estimates for the new 13th precinct range from D+4 to D+11, meaning the Democratic nominee in an average election year could expect a 4 to 11 percentage point advantage over the Republican nominee. .
In 2012, “The Almanac of American Politics” listed the former 13th district as “Even” – meaning a draw for either party.
Since 2012, with Democratic support collapsing outside major cities, Democratic performance ratings in the former 13th District have fallen to Republicans – D-4 in 2020. And Republicans have won every election through 2020 in the former 13th district.
It’s unclear what the new Democratic performance will be in 2022, especially since most political commentators aren’t predicting an “average election” but a GOP landslide.
But one statistic is clear.
According to available data from the 2020 census, minorities in the new 13th arrondissement represent 32% of the population, with blacks in particular representing around 20%. Establishment Democrats also drew the map of the previous Congress. The old 13th District contained only 19% minorities, with blacks making up about 12%.
It is evident that the Democratic mappers pushed the new 13th district to favor the election of a Democratic member of Congress by carving out rural communities while carving out minority communities and thus increasing minority proportionality by more than 50%. Blacks in the newly drawn 13th nearly doubled their representation from the old ward.
Chicago Democrats have ensured that regardless of Democratic performance in 2022, minority turnout will boost Democratic performance in the new 13th District.
However, the radical gerrymandering of establishment Democrats, coupled with the selection of their preferred candidates for Congress, has created a mystery.
Why did the Chicago Democrats draw a heavily Gerrymander 13th District by increasing the minority population, then decide to steal in a White Peoria native (Peoria is not in the district) who worked and lived in Washington, D.C., and had never voted either in the old or new 13th arrondissement?
The mystery contestant is Nikki Budzinski. She comes from a highly respected and politically active Peoria family. Peoria is in the 17th congressional district, which also has an open seat with no incumbent and is well-rated for a Democratic nominee.
So why isn’t Budzinski running for Congress in the 17th arrondissement, which includes her hometown?
In fact, Capitol Fax reported in November that Budzinski “has voted in Chicago for each of the last five elections.”
My experiences as a former Democratic state legislator, Democratic National Convention delegate, and Democratic Party activist for 40 years find that Chicago Democrats have very little respect for voters in the state. Party insiders think they can rig the system, and voters downstate won’t see the difference.
This approach hasn’t worked lately.
In 1990, Democrats held six of Illinois’ eight congressional districts. Today, only one of the six downstate congressional districts is represented by a Democrat, and that Democrat has decided not to run again in 2022.
After the 2022 election, even if Chicago Democrats draw gerrymandered maps, Southern Illinois could very well be left without a single Democratic member of Congress.
Bill Edley of Springfield is a 40-year-old Democratic Party activist and former Democratic state representative, Illinois delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and field organizer for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. He obtained an MA in Economic History from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2012. He can be contacted at [email protected]