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Could Illinois Do A Mid-Census Redistricting?

By vouchey in News on Mar 4, 2005 3:52PM

Cong. Jan SchakowskyFor the fourth straight presidential election Illinois went solidly blue in 2004, labeling our state "Solid Democratic". Since Democrats control the statehouse and the governor's office too, there's talk in Washington of taking advantage of that shading by redrawing Congressional district lines so more Democrats could take Republican districts.

It's called "off-year redistricting", and North Shore Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-9) wants Illinois to take a page from Texas' Republican governor and legislature. In 2002, Texas Republicans took advantage of their new control of state government by braking political tradition and redrew their state congressional map in a non-census year. Until 2002, state legislatures waited for the decannual census to redraw maps. After Texas' unusual remap, five Democrat congressmen lost their seats, including legendary Blue Dog moderate, Charlie Stenholm.

Democratic partisans are hopping mad about the remap, calling it unfair, and a betrayal of unwritten rules. But Republicans don't seem to care, since they're now pushing California Republican Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger to do a GOP-favorable remap there too.

The whole point of conducting a national census every ten years was to force Congress and states to redistribute and redraw the district lines of Congressional seats throughout the country. The results became like national political clockwork. Every decade there would be a census, and two years following each census there would be new Congressional maps across the country. Some states would gain seats, some lose, and state legislatures would wrestle with drawing the lines to gain advantage for each political party.

The Gerrymander of 1812This process was named Gerrymandering, after a series of unusual Congressional district lines drawn in Massachusetts by then-Governor Elbridge Gerry. A political cartoon of the first great Gerrymander of 1812 is at right.

Back in Illinois, Capitol Fax reports that Illinois Senate President Emil Jones has pushed the idea of an off-year remap, while Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan has resisted the idea. The X-Factor is Governor Rod Blagojevich: What does he want to do?

As we mentioned last week, it's clear he wants to run for President, which means ruffling as few feathers as possible. But then, for the moment he's a darkhorse candidate without a whole lot of national exposure or ties to national leadership. Creating a few more Democratic Congressmen could help in that regard.

Images via Cong. Schakowsky's office and Wikipedia