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Redistricting showdown in the House

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010

* Yesterday’s debate over redistricting in a House committee got a bit intense yesterday

Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, even said that if the Democratic plan winds up being added to the Illinois Constitution, Republicans might refuse to take part in the new system for drawing political boundaries.

“Be forewarned, be forewarned. That’s all I’m saying,” Durkin said. “If it comes to a constitutional crisis, so be it.”

So, if 60 percent of voters who vote on the question or a majority of voters who vote in the election approve the proposal, the Republicans wouldn’t go along? Really? Doubtful. Then again, it’s also doubtful that the Democratic proposal will make it to the ballot since the House Democrats don’t have the required three-fifths majority.

* There were some racial fireworks as well

The debate turned heated on how the Fair Map Amendment would protect voting rights for minorities. [The League of Women Voters’ Chris Butler] said he took “strong offense” to the committee “parading as great defenders of minority rights.”

Raoul countered, saying African-Americans did not support the Fair Map Amendment during earlier redistricting hearings.

“Don’t bring tokens out here to defend something like that,” he said. “It’s insulting to my community as an African-American.”


We caught that exchange on video. Watch

* House GOP Leader Tom Cross, however, said he’d be open to changing his proposal, which is backed by the League of Women Voters and others, to provide more protections for minorities

That sorta undercuts the argument by the League that their proposal isn’t strong enough on minority representation. And some wondered why the proposal wasn’t changed after Senate GOP Leader Radogno said she was open to changing it

After the Republican plan was shot down in a Senate committee, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, the sponsor of the amendment, said she would be willing to add more protection for minority populations. That was a major area of criticism from Democrats, and some supporters of “Fair Map” say it could be stronger on this point.

Radogno added that she thought concerns over diversity representation were not the real reason for Democratic opposition. She said Democrats’ true worry was the legislature losing its map-drawing power.

Yet the Republicans did not call what they perceived as the Democrats’ bluff today. The amendment they presented was identical to the one that stalled in the Senate, and many Democrats said their desires to protect minority voters played into their “no” votes.

“The question is, why do you not enhance the ability for communities of interest and minorities … to have their seat at the table,” said Rep. Lou Lang, a Democrat from Skokie.

* The House Republicans are planning to make a stink on the floor today after their redistricting proposal didn’t get out of committee. Speaker Madigan told my intern Barton Lorimor yesterday that he plans to call the Democratic proposal today

* And this is true up to a point

Democrats have accused the League of cooperating with Republicans in exchange for financial support. Both Republican leaders – Rep. Tom Cross of Oswego and state Sen. Christine Radogno of Lemont – have made contributions from their campaign funds. The League’s executive director, Jan Czarnik, defended the organization’s decision to work with the GOP on the proposal.

“In my judgment, and I’ve been around here a long time as a public interest advocate, if the political situation were reversed the Democrats would be supporting our effort and the Republicans would be opposing our effort because this isn’t about ideology,” Czarnik said. “It’s about the power to draw the maps.”

No question that a lot of this is about politics, but the League undoubtedly blew it by not getting its ducks in a row on the minority represenation questions.

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- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - heet101 - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 11:27 am:

    I hate that this has become a racial issue. It isn’t about that, but all you have to do is have a couple black legislators say that it is and then “POOF”, it is. As a white man, I am offended that the Democrats didn’t come and talk to me and my “community of caucasian Americans” before drafting and introducing this Democrat incumbent protection act.

  2. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 11:39 am:

    It is amazing StateWidTom. RxRon and the blowhards are still pushing the Fair Map Amendment after admitting their failure to protect minority rights.
    The question is can StateWideTom absorb the growing humiliation over the redistrict disaster

  3. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 11:41 am:

    So if you’re going to align with someone, why would you go with the political losers, guaranteeing you’d never have the votes to do what you want?

  4. - John Bambenek - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 11:42 am:

    If the US Courts say you can’t redistrict based on race under the Voting Rights Act, you won’t be able to under any state constitution.

  5. - John Bambenek - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 11:43 am:


    Because the political “winners” wanted to maintain or enhance their power under a corrupt system.

    Raoul isn’t insterested in reform.

    He never was.

  6. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 12:04 pm:

    –“Be forewarned, be forewarned. That’s all I’m saying,” Durkin said. “If it comes to a constitutional crisis, so be it.”–

    How dramatic. What’s it to be? Revolution? Secession?

  7. - Conservative Veteran - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 12:09 pm:

    I agree with John. Race shouldn’t be considered, when drawing the maps or choosing candidates. Our state should draw the maps using a compterized program that wouldn’t consider incumbents, parties, or ethnic groups.

  8. - just sayin' - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 12:16 pm:

    Someone please explain to me how letting the Four Tops handpick their own lackeys to a commisssion makes that commission “independent.”

    And how is that “Fair Map” plan superior to the Dems’ plan?

    Seems like a good argument could be made that the Republican/Fair Map plan could lead to more gerrymandering than what we have now.

    Or what am I missing?

  9. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 12:20 pm:

    John, and neither was the league of women voters. The league assured that when they aligned with Republicans. They should have done everything possible to be nonpartisan in an election year on such an important topic.

  10. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 12:26 pm:

    The League probably “aligned with the losers” because working with Madigan was a non-starter: why would anyone think Madigan would agree to a redistricting that he couldn’t control?

  11. - Conservative Veteran - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 3:14 pm:

    The Fair Map plan could help the Four Tops appoint commission members who would help incumbents, of both parties.

  12. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 5:55 pm:

    Rich, I don’t see the contradiction you do.

    If the Fair Map proposal is sufficient in its protections for African-Americans then why fight changing it to make it sufficient but different?

    BTW, while I am skeptical of the Fair Map Amendment, the de-nesting of rep/senate districts should increase the number of districts where Latinos are either a majority or a strong enough minority to wield influence.

  13. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 6:05 pm:

    I think the vision of the Fair Map people is that their either needs to be comity between Dem and GOP leadership or the map gets drawn by a federal court.

    I don’t understand why it’s the top priority of the “professional reformers” to legislate comity.

    It does sort of smack of Republican campaign contributors and Republican-allied editorial boards (e.g. Chicago Trib) making an deal with “professional reformers”.

    In exchange for “professional reformers” casting Republicans as pro-reform and Democrats as anti-reform the Republican donors will contribute to the organizations employing the “professional reformers”.

  14. - Park - Wednesday, Apr 28, 10 @ 8:14 pm:

    Same ol’ same ol’. Nothing’s going to change.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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