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WGLT's reporting on the November 2020 election cycle.

LaHood Talks SCOTUS Rulings, Constituent Email Surveys

Mary Cullen
U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood talks with Heartland Community College officials at a visit to Bloomington-Normal on June 28, 2019.

Despite a conservative ruling, one Republican congressman from Central Illinois is “very disappointed” in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on gerrymandering.

The high court’s conservative majority ruled 5 to 4 that gerrymandering is not within federal jurisdiction. U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood of Peoria would have ruled differently.

“For too long in Illinois you have politicians picking their voters instead of voters picking their politicians,” he said while visiting Bloomington-Normal on Friday.

LaHood said he has been a supporter of a fair maps system since his days in the Illinois General Assembly. That’s where a group of non-politicians draw the maps, rather than letting the party majority have their pick.

LaHood said that’s how it should be.

“For far too long gerrymandering has made strong Republican districts and strong Democratic districts. I don’t think gerrymandering is good for our democracy," he said.

With the Supreme Court’s action, gerrymandering is left to the states.

“I’m hopeful that even with this decision that Governor Pritzker and our leaders in Springfield, as we go into the 2020 census and the redrawing of districts, they will do it in a fair way,” LaHood said.

Gerrymandering isn't the only Supreme Court ruling that LaHood has an opinion on. Also Thursday, the court put the census citizenship question back on the lower courts.

Chief Justice John Roberts ruled against his fellow conservatives, halting the process on a tight deadline before the 2020 Census. LaHood said he respects the high court's opinion, but he hopes the lower courts can pull it off.

“We should be able to ask whether someone is a U.S. citizen,” he told WGLT.

Opponents of the question argue it is an attack on undocumented immigrants and could discourage some of the population from participating in the Census.

Polling Constituents

LaHood was recently targeted in a Springfield State Journal Register op-ed for polling constituents without releasing the results.

The congressman has been sending email blasts to gauge where residents in his district stand on hot button issues: abortion, border security, Medicare for All. He told WGLT it’s all for internal purposes.

“I think it serves us well," he said of the results. "It serves the staff that I have well that we know the wants and needs of our district.”

LaHood called his constituents his “bosses,” but admitted those bosses aren’t allowed to see the results of his email polls.

“In this job, there’s some people that are going to agree with me on issues and other people that are going to disagree with me on issues," he said. "That’s part of the job.”

LaHood said he would look into releasing some results in the future, but his team said there are no plans to do so. His team said releasing polling results would only be releasing part of the pie, since not all constituents take part.

“People may agree with my vote or my advocacy on a particular issue and others, they don’t," LaHood said. "That’s why we have elections.”

LaHood said he thinks he is the only downstate Illinois congressman who does surveys, polls, and newsletters to gain insight from his district.

LaHood represents Illinois’ 18th District, which includes parts of Bloomington-Normal.

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