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*** UPDATED x2 - Jackson: This is about Latinos, not blacks - MJM office responds *** Black delegation takes step back from new map

Thursday, Sep 22, 2011

* Trouble in paradise

Democrats hailed Illinois’ new Congressional map as a work of redistricting art earlier this year, but now the three black Democrats in the delegation are raising serious objections.

Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr., Bobby Rush and Danny Davis have concerns about whether the new map adheres to the Voting Rights Act. The trio is also hesitant to help Democrats defend the map in court against a GOP lawsuit.

“I have serious concerns that are likely to be aired in the legal process between both sides,” Jackson said Tuesday evening.

Earlier this month, the lawmaker penned a letter to the president venting his frustration with the Justice Department. Last week, he went ballistic in a Democratic delegation meeting, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

“He was, in his own way, boisterous and bombastic and perhaps inappropriate in that meeting,” one of the sources said. “It seemed like a strange time to discuss that. There were several meetings when the map was being discussed in the first place.”

At the meeting, Democrats discussed how to pay for as much as $500,000 in court fees to fight a GOP lawsuit challenging the new lines. The Illinois Democrats were asked to chip in $10,000 each from their campaign funds. But Davis said that he, Jackson and Rush refused to pay.

According to the last census, Chicago lost about 180,000 black people. The African-American population also dropped in suburban Cook and almost all the collars. Several people have contended that the census numbers were inaccurate and should’ve been challenged, but we didn’t hear much out of the state’s congressional delegation about that.

* The Congressman appears to be upset that the three African-American districts are all just barely over 50 percent black. But when the region loses that many black people, it’s pretty tough to draw three completely solid black districts. Jackson’s current district was based on the 2000 census total of 62.4 percent black. His new disrict is about 54 percent black.

Democrats probably could have done some more squibbling with the lines and put more black people into these three districts, but that would’ve meant seriously undercutting party strength in a couple of “competitive” districts.

Of course, if Jackson, Rush and Davis decide to actually challenge this map in court under Section 2, the Republicans will have a field day

Section 2 of the Voting Right Act of 1965 prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate based on race, color or membership. It’s used frequently as an argument in redistricting lawsuits when one party does not believe the map accurately gives minority groups voting representation.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Congressman Jackson just sent me this statement. I’ve highlighted a couple of paragraphs that may be a surprise to Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who fought hard to limit Latino districts to just one. Either way, this is a big boost to the Republican challengers of the new map because the GOPs based much of their complaint on this very same argument about one Latino district…

Redrawn maps after the 2010 census in the 1st, 2nd and 7th CDs remain essentially unchanged under the Democratic Party’s and the Republican Party’s maps. The only issue is whether Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) was properly taken into account in the redistricting process.

To gain a Democratic majority and partisan advantage, some Democrats may be prepared to tamper with and possibly violate the VRA, rather than support strict enforcement of its provisions. Congressman Rush, Davis and I are not prepared to do that. There is another way. Instead of abandoning the fight against racism and discrimination, both Democrats and Republicans should fight for fairness - political and economic inclusion for all.

For some, partisan advantage may be more important than fighting against discrimination. But not for us. African Americans and Latinos have a memory of a history of discrimination that predates either party.

We want to make it very clear that the 1st, 7th and 2nd CDs - that are presently represented by Bobby Rush, Danny Davis and me respectively - remain essentially unchanged under either proposed map. So our arguments are not driven by self-interest. The potential problem is in the 20-year-old court ordered 4th CD represented by Luis Gutierrez.

In 1990 the Democratic legislature drew a map that did not include a Latino district. In 1991 the Republican Party filed a lawsuit that did include a Latino district and their map prevailed in court, which elected the first Latino congressman in the history of Illinois, Luis Gutierrez, who has represented the district with great distinction.

In 2011, with Illinois losing a congressional seat under reapportionment and the Latino population being the only minority population in the state to increase, the Democratic-controlled legislature has drawn a map that may deny Latinos a second CD in Congress. According to Thornburg v. Gingles, historic discrimination is enough to establish a violation. Therefore we hope Democrats, for the 2nd time, have not denied Latinos their fair share of representation. We hope that the Court does not rule that the Democrats intentionally discriminated against Latinos for a second time and we are concerned that we could a party to that argument.

With national attention on issues like immigration and high unemployment, we want to make sure that neither side’s arguments over the redrawn maps are depriving Latinos of legitimate and deserved representation in Congress.

Again, all of the African American CDs - under either map - does not essentially change. So this is not an issue driven by our self-interest but by our interest in strict enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act that is under attack in multiple jurisdictions around the country.

We believe that President Barack Obama and his Justice Department are equally committed to seeing that Section 2 and Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act are strictly enforced.


*** UPDATE 2 *** There’s not much to it, of course, but here’s the response from House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman…

“The new Illinois reapportionment law meets all the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act and the related requirements.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 8:14 am:

    Jackson has probably figured out that Halvorson could pose a serious threat. He also realizes that he has NO future beyond his congressional district. So, after years of trying to pretend that he is “beyond race” so that he could position himself for that planned “step up”, he is now playing the race card. Nothing surprising here.

  2. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 8:19 am:

    ===Jackson has probably figured out that Halvorson could pose a serious threat.===

    I kinda doubt that. 54 percent black VAP translates into a huge percentage of black votes in a Democratic primary.

  3. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 8:25 am:

    –The trio is also hesitant to help Democrats defend the map in court against a GOP lawsuit.–

    If nothing else, their “concerns” give them an out for ponying up money.

  4. - anon - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 8:25 am:

    doesn’t this likely have a lot more to do with Debbie Halvorson threatening to run against Jackson, and the district forcing him to run in more Will County areas….

  5. - Anon - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 8:27 am:

    Why wouldn’t the new map be designed to protect Jackson, Davis and Rush? This is the old guard and have been loyal to the party for years.

    I certainly can see this as a snub

  6. - TimB - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 8:38 am:

    The real shame is, this map is supposed to provide fair representation to the citizens that reside within its boundaries and divisions. It should not be about whether one politician “poses a serious threat” to the re-election of another. Something about dontating $10K from a “campaign” fund to “defend” a map deliniating representative districts doesn’t sit well with me.

    Isn’t drawing a map to include one group of people as racist as drawing a map to exclude a group?

    I know, my naivet’e is showing.

  7. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 8:41 am:

    ===Isn’t drawing a map to include one group of people as racist as drawing a map to exclude a group?===

    No. It’s the law. And for good reason.

  8. - phocion - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 8:46 am:

    Rich is right - it’s the law. But the Congressmen may be getting too clever by half. With a shrinking black population, it would be difficult to draw three districts that comply with super-majority Voting Rights Acts requirements. Could have been done if the number went down to two, and add a super-majority Hispanic District to account for that community’s growth in Illinois. But I guess everyone always wants more, whether they’re legally entitled to it or not.

  9. - Bill - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 8:58 am:

    ==54 percent black VAP translates into a huge percentage of black votes in a Democratic primary.==

    Don’t assume that Jr will get all those black votes.

  10. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 8:59 am:

    I believe Wordslinger has all the rights word:
    “If nothing else, their “concerns” give them an out for ponying up money.”

    I’m just not sure about the order of those words.

  11. - Skeeter - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 9:19 am:

    Interesting that Danny Davis cares about the map. He never seems to care much about his district or about doing the work in Congress. He should be more concerned about the map for the next office is he going to run for. Other than State Rep., he’s floated his name for just about every office during the past five years. How knows — maybe he really wants to be an Alderman.

  12. - just sayin' - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 9:20 am:

    If by some miracle the GOP did prevail in court, it’s going to upset the GOP in all the other states, like Texas, which drew very favorable R maps. Democrat lawsuits there will get a big boost and everything will be up in the air.

    But of course since when did any Republican official in IL care about anyone else beyond their own skin.

  13. - reformer - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 9:28 am:

    Every black state legislator voted for this map. By attacking the map as bad for their community, Jesse, Bobby and Danny are by implication criticizing every African-American senator and representative.

    The trio come across as completely self-centered. None of them would be at risk in their new districts. It sounds as if they want to remove any reason for campaigning at all — at the expense of losing adjacent districts. What a pathetic display.

  14. - View from the Cheap Seats - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 9:42 am:

    In case you’ve fogotten this gem from Chicago Tonight -

  15. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 9:51 am:

    Reformer, the trio doesn’t “come across as completely self-centered,” they are completely self-centered. And by whining, Davis, Jackson, and Rush are undermining their fellow black legislators, albeit ones who are in the statehouse, not the U.S. capitol building.

    Is it possible that the three amigos fear a divisive primary now or in the future where a non-black is able to scoot by a two or more black candidates?

    Something else strange about this is that these folks could end up undermining the three black districts and wind up with an end result that creates another Latino district, which would come much to the chagrin of other black politicians since presumably, such a district would come at the expense of the black congressmen.

    I guess Rich can say “I told you so” about challenging the Census numbers.

    And if you want to talk about fancy mapmaking, I used a tool some months back to create 12 definitively Democratic districts in the state, with at least 3 competitive districts that leaned Democratic. One of the caveats though was paying zero attention to where incumbents (of both parties) lived.

  16. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 9:58 am:

    How much money do Jackson and Davis need to shut them up?

    Would $10K make it OK? $50K? Does the Democratic Party have to hire some relative that can’t hold a job?

    Davis and Jackson knew the map was being negotiated. They are big enough fish, they could have gotten into the process.

    Why didn’t they participate at the time? And don’t even tell me Davis was “too busy” in Congress. He could disappear for weeks at a time and not be missed.

    Davis has become a bitter old man who won’t accept that he got to Congress and couldn’t do much with the position.

    Richie Daley cut a deal with Dick Gephardt to keep Davis off committees with real power for Davis’ first 10 years in Congress. This limited Davis’ fundraising potential.

    Davis eventually figured out that he got played and he’s a tad bitter now.

    What would be best for the district, the City of Chicago and the Illinois delegation would be if Davis retired.

    Of course, Davis hasn’t really groomed a successor, but that’s the Danny Davis way. Even after pursuing President of the Cook County Board in 2006 and ‘10, Davis has not groomed anyone to succeed himself.

  17. - train111 - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 10:02 am:

    A high black primary turnout in Il-2 doesn’t necessarily translate to votes for JJJ. Mayor Moseley-Braun has lots of comments to that regard I’m sure.
    JJJ, Rush, and David–grow up already. Your districts are still safe. The fun comes in 10 years if the AA population continues its trend, to see which one of the majority AA districts gets popped.



  18. - anon - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 10:06 am:

    Is Jackson afraid of an actual (i.e., legitimate) contested campaign?

  19. - Chester J. Lampwick - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 10:10 am:

    Bottom line is these THREE districts are all almost certain to elect a black legislator. Why are they complaining? They all have districts to run in and maximize their numbers in Congress.

    Would they rather have two districts with a black VAP over 65% and elect only two individuals to Congress?

    For these three to be upset about the map makes absolutely zero sense. In all reality, I think they are being incredibly dumb. If anyone has a legitimate beef with the map, it would be the Latino community and Luis Gutierrez.

  20. - Shore - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 10:13 am:

    Is it that they want some other favor on some other issue (city council redistricting), that they actually are saying what they mean or that they don’t want to fork over $500k so that tammy duckworth can get a new job in dc and schakowsky can screw kennilworth?

    It would also seem like $500k wouldn’t be that hard to raise given their home state president is trying to raise $1 billion and they have an ex white house cos/dccc chief/new chicago mayor with nothing to do politically right now.

  21. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 10:26 am:

    I am going to be quite cynical here and allege that these three gentlemen don’t want to contribute to the defense of the map. Unlike not contributing money to Obama’s campaign or Nancy Pelosi’s leadership PAC or the DCCC, there is likely no reason that JJJ, Danny Davis or Bobby Rush would be punished for not contributing to the map defense. However, on the flipside, the GOP’s own map isn’t so kind to members who either aren’t playing by the rules or maybe aren’t wanted.

  22. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 10:55 am:

    $500K to defend the map? I should have gone to law school.

  23. - Bman - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 11:04 am:

    The whole thing is ridiculous. it is all a ploy to maintain the kleptocracy in Illinois.

  24. - Ghost - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 12:08 pm:

    it seem to me that Jackson, Davis and Rush run a considerable risk that a new map would have only 2 districts with majority of blacks; particuarly fiven the latino population increase and push for expansion.

    When somone hands you a free steak do you really want to complain the it came with mashed potatoes instead of a baked potato? You stand to lose the whole meal.

  25. - J - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 1:33 pm:

    I can’t stand these 3, and I don’t buy that this is actually about Latino representation. Unless I’m mistaken, to create a 2nd Latino district you’d have to tweak the new 3rd CD. Doing that throws off all of the other suburban districts. ie Rep. Jackson’s brand new district. I’m not sure that he’s vulnerable, but I’m definitely sensing an ulterior motive.

    Also, Luis Gutierrez is not shy about speaking up when he disagrees on something, if this is such a big issue why has he endorsed the map?

  26. - Nice Kid - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 1:45 pm:

    JJJ is as phony as a $3 bill. He cares about himself only, and serves his own interests by claiming to be looking out for Hispanics. Nobody will buy it, and he shouldn’t be selling it. I know some republicans who will be pulling democrat ballots for Debbie Halvorson.

  27. - DoubleDown - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 1:47 pm:

    Peotone here, JJJ is not even my Congressperson yet. My future rep is already playing shenanigans with the district.


  28. - QRBNST - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 2:49 pm:

    Aside from Debbie Halvorson’s looming congressional challenge, I would argue that this is a diversionary tactic and opening of a “second front” in the coming war for the remap of the Chicago city council.

    This is intended to the focus of Chicago’s Latino community away from getting its fair share of seats in the city council remap, by getting them to think that they have been shorted by the General Assembly.

    You might ask yourself, but why would Jackson be so concerned with that? Well, if the the black caucus on the city council loses too many seats, that’s going to seriously hurt Sandi Jackson’s chances at holding onto her job as an absentee-Alderman.

    Make sense?

  29. - agree completely - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 3:24 pm:

    Almost everyone that has posted I agree with - especially QRBNST - they dont want to pay for the defense of the map and the “2nd front” theory of trying to distract latinos away from the ward map.

    I’m in the 7th and have been for 30 years. Cardiss Collins got involved in DC heavily (committee chairmanship) but Davis’ attention has always been towards Chicago. So has Rush. JJJ - well, before the Senate seat fiasco came up he was all about party building, unity, etc. Since then, oh, thats all gone.

    Not that its unusual that some Congresspeople from Chicago pay more attention to the City Council and various local and county races. Historically this has been the norm. (recall Roman Pucinski taking it so far as to leave Congress to come back home and run for city Council.)

    what’s different now is Chicago Congresscritters being so willing to diss the party in support of their main goal.

    Fellas: fine. Don’t pay for the map defense. But please just s.t….(etc) (dont want to spell it out - dont want to get banned)

  30. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 3:43 pm:

    I just saw that David Axelrod called Raja’s entry into the 8th CD race a “mistake”. Thanks, Dave, for trying to quell democracy and force a candidate’s hand. At least he didn’t threaten to beat Raja up.

  31. - Conservative Veteran - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 3:53 pm:

    When the maps were drawn, no one should have considered ethnic groups. When the map-makers consider ethnic groups, they assume that only Blacks can represent Blacks and that only Hispanics can represent Hispanics. However, our country has made enough progress so that we shouldn’t care about a candidate’s ethnic group.

  32. - Its Just Me - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 4:07 pm:

    Can someone please explain to me why they don’t just have a computer draw up a map at random? Oh wait, this is Illinois…

  33. - Allen Skillicorn - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 5:24 pm:

    My Senator Noland’s latest franking letter starts with him bragging about his Co-Chair position on “Most transparent redistricting process in Illinois history”. That’s tough to take seriously when I read articles like “Mapping in the Dark”:

  34. - shore - Thursday, Sep 22, 11 @ 5:37 pm:

    Its just me-iowa did that. Yes a state where michelle bachman won a political event of sorts is better at maps than Illinois.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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