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Term limits and redistricting reform

Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014

* Bruce Rauner said recently that his term limits proposal group had already collected 250,000 signatures. 300,000 signatures are needed to get this on the ballot. He said he’d like to collect 400,000 by the May 4th deadline to make sure he has enough valid signatures.

Back in November, Rauner said his group had gathered 150,000 signatures.

Of course, his proposal will also likely have to be vetted by the courts first.

* Rauner’s term limit comments start around the nine-minute mark

* Meanwhile, we’re coming a bit late to this, but former Gov. Jim Edgar has joined up with those pushing redistricting reform

Today I want to announce my support for redistricting reform in Illinois. Now is the time for Democrats and Republicans to come together to get it on the ballot.

I served as your governor from 1991 to 1999. The process of drawing state legislative maps was broken even then, but partisanship has now reached an extreme. It harms communities across the state and creates a system where we, the people of Illinois, are no longer choosing our representatives. This is a bipartisan problem, and it calls for a bipartisan solution.

* Matt Dietrich

Edgar is well steeped in the intricacies of the Illinois map-drawing process — which really is more a lottery than anything else. As a young staffer, he was the point person for the Illinois Senate Republicans in the map-drawing talks that followed the 1970 census.

That was the only time since the adoption of the 1970 state constitution that Democrats and Republicans actually worked to forge a compromise on a map. In 1981 and 1991, the parties deadlocked. When that happened, the right to draw the map went to the party that won a drawing. In 1991, the Republicans won, and drew a map that helped them remove Michael Madigan as speaker of the house for two years. Democrats have controlled the map since then.

“I did redistricting for the Senate Republicans in ’71. I was the point guy. And that was the first time where the constitution actually worked; where you had a compromise because nobody wanted to go to the draw. Nobody ever thought they’re ever be that foolish to take a chance on the draw but they proved them wrong. . . .

“And I think whatever party’s out of power, like the Republicans right now, they’re in favor of something like that. I am convinced that if they got back in power they would not be in favor of it. But it’d be nice because we have too many districts now where there’s not a general election. I think what results then is you get members who are very far to the right or far to the left because there’s no need to reach over and be able to deal with people in the other party.

“I’ve never wanted to be Don Quixote and go tilting at a windmill. I think if you’re going to rely on the Legislature to give that up, you’re tilting at a windmill.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        


25 Comments
  1. - Johnny Q. Suburban - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    GOP obviously couldn’t campaign on this back in 2012 because it would look like sour grapes, but it’s the rare issue in Illinois in which they’re clearly in the right and the public overwhelmingly agrees with them.


  2. - onevoter - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    I still find it INTERESTING that this petition only covers the General Assembly, and not the Governor’s Office. I guess we have to trust the Baron to limit himself, if elected


  3. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:38 pm:

    Wouldn’t sign a petition for term limits. It’s a bad idea. We have elections. Those are sufficient term limits for me.


  4. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    ===and not the Governor’s Office===

    There’s a very simple explanation for that which requires you first be cured of Rauner Derangement Syndrome.

    Read the Illinois Constitution. You can’t change the governor’s term of office by constitutional amendment referenda.


  5. - Nick - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:47 pm:

    I like term limits, but I don’t like reducing the size of the senate. For that reason, I am not supporting the proposal.


  6. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:50 pm:

    We need to either do term limits or raise the age to run for office to 85.

    I’m OK with either.


  7. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:54 pm:

    I’m obviously not a Rauner fan for a lot of reasons, but the dude’s got game.

    Don’t dismiss him as some Blair Hull self-funder.

    He ain’t a self-funder: he’s a rich guy who’s built an incredible fundraising network. His spots are solid and he can do the retail politics better than any first-timer I’ve seen. He’s a salesman, and it shows.

    Barring something crazy, he’s going to roll through the GOP primary like Sherman through Georgia.

    PQ, you better get on the phone and start raising money, now. And pack a lunch, because beating this guy is going to be an all-day job.


  8. - tominchicago - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:56 pm:

    I wonder how many petition signatures can survive a challenge? Suffice it say the signature gatherers that I have encountered did not exude signature collection experience. Looked to me like the Rauner campaigned cleaned out the Pacific Garden Mission for a couple of days.


  9. - train111 - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 1:57 pm:

    Party out of power is always in favor of redistircting reform and term limits
    Party in power wants to sweep both under the rug because it threatens the status quo.

    Decreasing the State Senate size is a bad idea. Sen Sullivan’s district is already bigger than Connecticut.


  10. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    Liberal groups want people to send them money and I am skeptical they put it to good use.

    These liberals have social events and invite legislators. They talk to legislators about their ideas–some worthwhile, some pointless.

    The legislators smile and agree.

    Then the legislators go meet with Madigan and the bosses.

    The legislators come back with the excuse that Madigan or one of the other bosses vetoed the idea.

    Legislators take money but come back with excuses about how it’s Madigan’s fault.

    If you accept excuses, you’re going to get excuses.

    The map is a small part of Madigan’s influence. Most of the influence come from money and campaign workers.

    The main problem is that most members of the General Assembly don’t raise their own money or organize their own volunteers.

    This map proposal is a distraction.


  11. - Anon - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:15 pm:

    “I served as your governor from 1991 to 1999. The process of drawing state legislative maps was broken even then”

    Glad that you want to fix now that you are out of power and can’t do anything about.

    Thanks, Ace.


  12. - Capitol View - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:24 pm:

    we don’t need a constitutional amendment to get the legislature to do the right thing on redistricting — just have public opinion demand that district boundaries more closely reflect city and county borders.
    There is a problem due to the court insistence on the absolutely same number of voters per district, so the district boundaries will always be a bit shabby.
    We should not amend the constitution unless absolutely necessary. A little maturity, please, legislators. You know what you should be doing.


  13. - Bill White - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:24 pm:

    Generally, I favor using independent commissions for map-making. The CA League of Women Voters recently completed a massive study of the CA independent commission process that can be found through this link:

    http://www.lwvc.org/announcement/2013/may/when-people-draw-lines

    But don’t think that gets the politics out of things. Arizona’s independent commission had a wild ride when Governor Jan Brewer came to dislike the maps under discussion and asked the GOP controlled state senate to fire the independent commission chair, only to have the commission chair reinstated by the Arizona Supreme Court.


  14. - PoolGuy - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:37 pm:

    i still feel elections are effective term limits. i was all about Newt and CWA in ‘94. then i realized people do get fed up and vote you out. Rosty with a felony may not be best example, but watching Flanagan win 5th CD had to shake a few boots.


  15. - Bill White - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:48 pm:

    What I would most like to see is the California open primary system, used in WA & LA as well.

    Hold the General Assembly and state senate primary in September (8 days after Labor Day) and if no one gets over 50% the top two candidates have a run off in November.

    As it stands running for the lower house is a never ending task. Petition signing for 2014 opened in September 2013, followed by the March primary, followed by a November general election.

    If you win in November, you maybe have a short break for Thanksgiving and New Years and then its only nine months until the next petition signing season opens up.


  16. - Bill White - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:51 pm:

    In other words, for IL General Assembly mushrooms, active campaigning extends 14 months out of 24.

    Petitions started in September 2013 with a November 2014 general election, followed by petitions starting again in September 2015.


  17. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 2:56 pm:

    Bill, you know what happens in CA right? People run under the other party’s banner. For example four people are running, two from party 1 and two from party 2. Then a couple folks from party 2 represent themselves as party 1. Party 1 splits its vote four ways. Party 2 splits it just two ways. Voila, those spoilers mean you get the choice between two candidates from party 2 in the general. It is extremely susceptible to shenanigans, and that is the reason it was put in place. Imagine how many “republicans” Madigan would run in each district.


  18. - Bill White - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 3:12 pm:

    @Jimbo Interesting point. Off to Google, when I next have some free time.

    Maybe I will somewhat amend that position.

    Nonetheless, to have active campaigning extend 14 months out every 24 months is ridiculous. IMHO.


  19. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 3:16 pm:

    I am totally with you there Bill. Would be nice if we could do it as fast as they do in England.


  20. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 3:48 pm:

    “Gerrymander” was named after a member of the original founders’ United States Constitutional Convention. It’s been part of American politics since the first election.

    If we want to reform Congressional maps, the time is now, since as the decade goes along, the likelihood that pols will game the next election in their heads, increases.

    However, the national Republicans gained at least 25 extra seats, maybe more, in the present Congress due to gerrymandering in Republican- controlled states. Seats where voters would have chosen Democrats with fairer maps.

    For Illinois to do it without equivalent efforts in those other states, or without a Federal mandate, would be the Dems shooting themselves in the foot on the national level.

    That is why the GOP likes the idea right now.


  21. - Commonsense in Illinois - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 4:44 pm:

    The word gerrymander (originally written Gerry-mander) was used for the first time in the Boston Gazette on 26 March 1812. The word was created in reaction to a redrawing of Massachusetts state senate election districts under the then-governor Elbridge Gerry (pronounced /ˈɡɛri/; 1744–1814). In 1812, Governor Gerry signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party. When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a salamander.[1] Gerrymander is a portmanteau of the governor’s last name and the word salamander.


  22. - low level - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 5:28 pm:

    Funny - he wasn’t saying that from Jan 1995 - Jan 1997 when he, Pate and Lee were in total control.

    For those not around then, look up “Illinois Agenda”. Also the number of bills during that time period that had a Democrat as the primary sponsor. N=0.

    Before someone starts with that “both sides” silliness, contrast that with Jan 2003 - present, where at least in the House about half of the bills have a Republican as the primary sponsor.


  23. - Nick - Tuesday, Feb 18, 14 @ 5:36 pm:

    ===And pack a lunch, because beating this guy is going to be an all-day job.===

    Actually with Quinn, I think it will be an all day and night job. Just like pension reform.


  24. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 8:06 am:

    Excuse me Former Governor Edgar, but when we had the once-in-a-generation chance to reform, update and improve the Illinois State Constitution, you went out of your way to make a public appeal to squash that effort.

    At a time when a lot of us were eager to make the kinds of changes and reforms we needed - including term limits and redistricting - you, in your capacity as a non-felonious Illinois governor, went publically against us.

    So shut the hell up.


  25. - Chi - Wednesday, Feb 19, 14 @ 8:33 am:

    Anyone see that Nursing Home ad about Rauner this morning? Devastating. Not sure anyone will be able to take advantage, but that is one effective ad.


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