* All but one Congressional Republican (Tim Johnson) and a fundraising group they formed called the Committee for a Fair and Balanced Map have filed suit against the new congressional map. Read the lawsuit by clicking here.
It alleges the new map, aimed at reversing GOP gains in last year’s mid-term elections, denies Latino voters adequate representation, lacks compactness in the new districts and doesn’t protect communities of interest.
A joint statement issued by 10 of the state’s 11 GOP members of Congress contended “an impartial review of the facts in court will expose the serious defects in this map and reverse the naked partisan power-grab contemplated by Democrats.” The lone Republican congressman not part of the suit is Rep. Tim Johnson of Urbana, who has already said he doubts a court will overturn the map.
The plan, approved by the General Assembly in late May and signed quietly into law by Gov. Pat Quinn late last month, violates the First Amendment as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, the lawsuit says.
“(The map) as a whole and several individual districts in particular represent a flexing of Democratic political muscle in Springfield aimed at creating a Democratic majority in the Illinois Congressional Delegation, regardless of the actual preferences of the electorate demonstrated only nine months ago,” the lawsuit reads.
The plan dismantles traditional areas of Republican influence such as DuPage County, diluting that influence across multiple districts, many carefully connected to traditional areas of Democratic strength.
That blueprint — stretching and skewing suburban boundaries lines to protect Democrats’ traditional Chicago base — could reduce Republican representation in Congress by as many as five seats, political experts say
The lawsuit alleges that the current ear-muff shaped West Side and suburban district held by Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez was packed with additional Latino population to the detriment of giving Latinos an additional district or more influence in neighboring districts. Illinois saw a growth in Latino population of more than 30 percent.
The Republicans contend it was part of a move to protect a southwest side and suburban district held by Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski and a district held by North Side Democrat Rep. Mike Quigley. Quigley’s new district would now go from the lakefront westward into Elmhurst in DuPage County, a traditional GOP bastion, and south to Hinsdale, the current home of GOP Rep. Judy Biggert.
* GOP files lawsuit over Illinois congressional map
* 8th wars: Splitting the baby: 8th District Democratic Candidates Raja Krishnamoorthi and Tammy Duckworth are now tussling over the support - or more accurately, neutrality - of big name Dems Melissa Bean and Debbie Halvorson. In mid-June, we, along with a number of other political blogs ran a statement Bean, of Barrington, had released in support of Raja, noting she’d supported Raja’s candidacy financially with $1,000 cash donation and a $2,000 in-kind contribution of office equipment left over from her previous campaign.
* Editorial: Joe Walsh has a loud voice, but nothing to say
State Senator Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) announced today that her current term will be her last. She will serve out her term to completion and retire from public office in January 2013.
“After much soul-searching, I have decided that the time is right to move on. I am confident there will be qualified candidates to vie for this open seat, and that will give voters the opportunity to choose an excellent replacement,” Garrett said.
“I have worked hard to do my best for almost fourteen years, providing the citizens of my district with fair and proactive representation. My underlying philosophy has always been to make government more open and accountable. I am a believer that citizens should have every opportunity to participate in local, state and federal government by providing input to their elected representatives, and I set up my office to encourage that process at the state level.”
“Serving the citizens of my district as a state representative and state senator has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I am a public servant at heart,” Garrett said.
Garrett began her political career in 1997 when she announced her campaign for the Illinois House in the 59th District - one of the most economically diverse districts in Illinois. In 2002 she was successful in winning election to the Illinois Senate. She was re-elected in 2004 and again in 2008 when she was appointed Majority Caucus Whip.
“Many people may want to know what my intentions are for the future. All I can say is that I will be totally engaged and focused on my Senate responsibilities until 2013. I want to thank everyone for the wonderful privilege to serve in the General Assembly. It has been an incredible honor,” Garrett added.
Reps. Karen May and Elaine Nekritz won’t run for the seat. Garrett has also ruled out a congressional bid.
Attorneys for both sides will return to court next week to determine a schedule moving forward. The union has filed a separate lawsuit with a federal court in Springfield seeking to force Quinn to pay the raises.
“Funding these raises would force the disruption of core services for the people of Illinois, including children, the elderly and those with special needs,” Quinn’s office said in a statement Friday afternoon. “Illinois’ taxpayers have already paid for more than $280 million in raises under the current labor contract. We cannot afford $75 million in additional pay raises this year.”
But union officials argue Quinn can honor the raises and ask lawmakers for more money down the road, noting Quinn’s office acknowledges in court filings that even without the raises, many of the agencies impacted won’t have enough money to operate for the full budget year.
* This freaking awful heat wave has prevented me from doing a whole lot during my week off except rest and visit with good friends. I’ve also spent countless hours reading the New York Times’ excellent daily blog chronicling the entire Civil War start to finish, Disunion. I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you’d like to start at the beginning, way back in October, click here and scroll to the bottom. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.