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Big changes for Bloomington-Normal in new congressional maps drawn by Democrats

Davis and LaHood answer questions with a crowd
WGLT file photo
U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis, left, and Darin LaHood currently represent Bloomington-Normal in Congress. They are both Republicans.

Illinois Democrats released their first draft of new congressional maps on Friday.

Bloomington-Normal would continue to be split into two separate districts, including one that leans Democratic. Rural parts of eastern McLean County would be part of a separate, third district. The new maps also make it unlikely U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican from Taylorville, would continue to represent any portion of Bloomington-Normal in the House.

Illinois is an important state for Democrats nationally as they look to maintain control of the U.S. House in the 2022 midterm elections.

Parts of Bloomington-Normal and Peoria are included in the proposed 17th Congressional District, a slender stretch that tracks along Interstate 74 west and takes in much of northwestern Illinois east to Rockford. That seat is held by Democrat Cheri Bustos, who is not seeking a sixth term in Washington. Redistricting expert Dave Wasserman from the Cook Political Report said Friday that's territory President Biden won by 6 points.

Much of south Bloomington and northeast Normal are included in the GOP-dominant 16th Congressional District. That would trigger a Republican primary between Rep. Darin LaHood of Dunlap and first-term Rep. Mary Miller, whose current district includes much of southeastern Illinois. The new 16th District includes territory that Donald Trump won by 31 points in 2020.

LaHood, who now represents parts of Bloomington-Normal, issued a statement Friday afternoon.

"When I served in the Illinois State Senate, I was proud to support a Fair Maps redistricting process because Illinoisans have made it clear that they are tired of politicians picking their voters. Illinois Democrats and Gov. Pritzker have shown with their proposed map that they care more about doing the bidding of Nancy Pelosi than giving Illinois voters fair representation in Washington. The proposed maps are a slap in the face to good governance everywhere. Illinois voters deserve much better than this non-transparent, corrupt process," LaHood said.

Illinois Democrats released a new congressional map on Friday with an aim to increase its 13-5 majority.
Illinois Democrats released a new congressional map on Friday with an aim to increase its 13-5 majority.

The 13th Congressional District, which Republican Rodney Davis has held since 2013, would no longer include his hometown of Taylorville. The district would include Champaign-Urbana, Springfield, the metro east area of St. Louis and narrow stretches of rural Illinois in-between.

Taylorville is instead included in the proposed 15th Congressional District, which covers much of east-central Illinois, then stretches north and west, going all the way to Freeport near the Wisconsin border.

Davis has said previously his plans to run in 2022 could hinge on how the maps are drawn. He has not said whether he will seek re-election or consider a run for governor.

Davis is "far from doomed" in this new 15th District, which Biden won by 11 points, Wasserman said Friday.

“As expected, our lying governor teamed up with state Democrats to draw a shameful, partisan gerrymander in a desperate attempt to keep Nancy Pelosi in power," Davis said in a statement Friday. "This proposed map, along with this entire redistricting process, is a complete joke. It’s clear Gov. Pritzker and the Democrats will stoop to any low if it means they can keep their corrupt system going."

The 18th Congressional District, which LaHood has held since 2013, no longer exists. Illinois lost one congressional district due to population loss in the 2020 census.

Political experts have predicted two incumbent Republicans would likely need to run against each other in a general election in the Democrats’ efforts to eliminate a GOP seat.

Democrats currently hold 13 of 18 seats in the Illinois delegation.

Republicans were quick to slam the proposed maps. GOP chair Don Tracy called the map the “Nancy Pelosi protection plan.”

“It’s appalling that fair representation, keeping communities of interest together, and transparency in the map-making process in Illinois all had to take a back seat to the demands of national politics," Tracy said.

The new maps are only a draft and will be subject to legislative changes as lawmakers return to the Capitol next week for their fall veto session. The congressional maps will be one of the top agenda items as lawmakers return.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.