Proposed Legislative Maps Could Boost Democrats' Chances In McLean County
One Democrat and possibly two could wind up representing parts of Bloomington-Normal if the Democrat-drawn state legislative maps released Friday come to fruition.
The new maps, released late Friday, are not finalized and could change as public hearings are held later this month. There would then be an election using the new maps, which are redrawn once every 10 years following the Census.
The maps appear to show at least one State Senate district and one Illinois House district in Bloomington-Normal in which a Democrat could compete or possibly win. Currently, all of McLean County’s House and Senate districts are represented by Republicans.
One caveat: The maps released Friday are not very detailed, making some of this guesswork.
Bloomington-Normal is currently split between two State Senate districts: Jason Barickman’s 53rd and Sally Turner’s 44th. They are both Republicans, and the districts were not considered competitive.
The new proposed map would keep the 53rd in Bloomington-Normal, but not the 44th.
Instead, the 46th District (currently held by Peoria Democrat Dave Koehler) would stretch east all the way to Bloomington-Normal. By touching two metro areas, a Democrat is more likely to compete.
McLean County is currently split between three House districts. That would increase to five.
The 105th House District, now represented by Dan Brady, would continue to exist in Bloomington-Normal.
However, the 88th House District would not. In fact, the 88th was moved significantly to the east, meaning incumbent Keith Sommer would be drawn out of his own district. The 88th would still include a small chunk of southeastern rural McLean County.
The 91st House District, which is now closer to Peoria and represented by Republican Mark Luft, would shift to the east and include parts of Bloomington-Normal. That might also be competitive for a Democrat.
The 87th House District (now Republican Tim Butler of Springfield) would stretch north to McLean County. The 106th House District (now Republican Tom Bennett of Pontiac) would include much of eastern rural McLean County.
McLean County Democratic Party chair Patrick Cortesi said the 40,000 Democrats who live here are excited about the prospects of being represented in Springfield “for a change.”
“We haven’t had that representation in quite some time,” he said.
Cortesi said Democrats hope to build off the success they’ve had at cutting the Republican majority on the County Board, from 15-to-5 in 2018 to 11-to-9 today. McLean was one of just 77 counties in the U.S. to flip from President Trump to President Biden during the 2020 presidential election.
“I just think this is another sign that we’re slowly turning McLean County blue. We hope to continue the success next year,” Cortesi said.
Democrats said Friday the new maps “ensure the broad racial and geographic diversity of Illinois is reflected in the General Assembly.”
“Redistricting is about making sure all voices are heard, and that’s exactly what this map accomplishes. This is a fair map that reflects the great diversity of our state and ensures every person receives equal representation in the General Assembly,” said Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee. “I’m grateful to all of the community groups and organizations who engaged in this process in a meaningful way and look forward to continuing those conversations in the coming days.”
Republicans were quick to criticize the maps and the process that led to them. Several have called for an independent commission to draw the maps, not the lawmakers themselves.
“Nothing says transparency like releasing new state legislative maps on a Friday night. Is this the fair, transparent process you envisioned, @GovPritzker?” tweeted U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, a Taylorville Republican who has been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2022.
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy criticized Democrats for releasing the maps at 7 p.m. on a Friday, when people may not be paying full attention.
"This new state legislative map, drawn in secret by politicians, has been engineered to maximize the power of the Madigan Machine. The politicians’ map degrades our democracy and fundamentally removes power from the people to fairly choose their representatives. I urge all legislators to vote against the proposed map and call on Governor Pritzker to keep his word by vetoing should it pass.”