Lines Redrawn: Quinn OKs U.S. House District Map
Down the Middle
Peoria Republicans living south of War Memorial Drive will experience a change in leadership when the new districts take effect a little over a year from now. The 18th District governed by congressional representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) will no longer include his entire hometown of Peoria. New district lines split the city in half, weakening his home base and cutting him off from a majority of his 92nd District constituents who helped him get to Washington. Businesses and residences of downtown Peoria and across the river into parts of East Peoria as well as those along most of Sterling, University, Sheridan, Knoxville, Wisconsin and Prospect will fall within the boundaries of the 17th District currently governed by Republican Bobby Schilling of Colona. The new lines bring the 17th District into South Peoria and across the river into Tazewell County and extend the 18th District into Bloomington and west to the Mississippi.
Peoria residents hold mixed views on the new law.
“I think Governor Quinn is doing what he thinks is best for the people of Peoria and Illinois,” says long-time Democrat Sandra Woods. “Schock’s new district is predominantly Republican. It helps both sides. It’s a fair map.”
“What’s obvious to me and what should be obvious to everyone is that Democrats saw their opportunity to gain seats in Washington, and they took full advantage,” says Republican Kathy Moore. “I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a bipartisan map when either one party or the other is in charge. That’s just how it is with lawmakers either here or in Washington.”
Jesse Manner, currently an 18th District resident in East Peoria, will end up in the 17th District providing lawsuits prove useless. “Am I upset by the change? I can say that I’m not surprised by it. I expected things to turn out this way. I’ll support Bobby Schilling or anyone else if they seem to be looking out for my best interests.”
The Top Ten
The new map places five Republican representatives, four of whom are first-term members, into districts where they will run against incumbents in the 2012 election. In a statement, the ten Illinois Republicans filing the lawsuit claim that in spite of Governor Quinn’s expressed desire for “openness and fairness, he “instead rewarded his democratic allies by approving this highly partisan map that tears apart communities and disrespects the will of Illinois voters as expressed in last fall’s election.”
Republicans also expressed disappointment that the Governor failed to allow room for hearings. State lawmakers unveiled the map on a Friday and passed it on a Monday leaving no time for hearings, the statement reads, which Quinn said were a necessity in order to pass a fair and unpartisan map. “Governor Quinn said that the way in which district lines are drawn contributes to the success of our democracy. Yet the map he approved seeks to reverse the results of a democratic election,” the statement said. “Governor Quinn advocated for a fair and open process. Instead, he has guaranteed an unfair and closed one.”
But in a statement Quinn released, the Governor said “the people of Illinois provided input at public hearings for both congressional and state legislative maps. This map is fair, maintains competitiveness within congressional districts and protects the voting rights of minority communities.”
In their statement, Republicans said they are confident the map will not prevail against their lawsuit, citing the map as “flawed.” Republicans say the new map does not support Quinn’s claims for a nonpartisan outcome.