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More consequences of the Rauner plan

Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013

* A little-discussed aspect of Bruce Rauner’s term limit proposal is that it reduces the size of the Illinois Senate by almost a third

Rauner is heading a petition drive to institute term limits, to make it harder for legislators to override a governor’s veto, and to reduce the size of the General Assembly. His plan adds a handful of members to the Illinois House, but takes away 18 senators.

Rauner says that’ll make elections more competitive.

“By having three House members per Senate district, no one House member already has half the district sort of locked up and have power of incumbency there,” he says. “It’ll allow challengers to take on incumbents.”

* Rauner opponent Kirk Dillard makes a very good point in opposing the idea

“I think it’s a real slap in the face to downstate Illinois to downsize the state Senate because the districts become so geographically large, your chances of having input face to face to your state senator are greatly diminished,” Dillard says.

* Click the pic for a larger image, but it’s easy to see that lots of Downstate districts are already huge…

The 53rd Senate District is well over 5,000 square miles, for example. But it would have to grow much larger if the current 59 seats were reduced to 41.

* Texas has 36 Senate districts, so each has about 724,000 people in them. Those districts have more people than congressional districts. California’s 40 Senate districts have even more people in them, with over 950,000 per district.

So, I guess it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Rauner’s idea comes into being. But things would definitely be different. For instance, if you think the Democratic map spokes Chicago districts pretty darned far into the suburbs now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:09 am:

    Where did Rauner find this shiny thing? There’s no logic to it, and yes, it would whack Downstate pretty hard.

  2. - reformer - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:17 am:

    If shrinking House districts would make them more competitive, then enlarging senate districts would make then LESS competitive. Huge districts would limit the number of candidates who could run competitive races given the couple million dollars it could easily cost. Of course that would favor the self-funders like Oberweis and Rauner.

  3. - walkinfool - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:17 am:

    Who’s telling Rauner this?

    Come out from the shadows, Mr. Wizard. What’s your game?

  4. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:18 am:

    Am I missing something here ? What relevence is the Senate seat to the House seat ? How would having 3 House seats in each Senate district stop incumbency advantage. How will 3 Reps per Senate district allow for challengers any differently than the current system ?

    He keeps coming out with ideas for changes that really aren’t that important in the long run. When is he going to tell us his positions on controversial issues, such as the pensions ?

    ““By having three House members per Senate district, no one House member already has half the district sort of locked up and have power of incumbency there,” he says. “It’ll allow challengers to take on incumbents.””

  5. - Veritas - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:21 am:

    You have to cut Rauner some slack. He just recently learned that there was an Illinois outside of Chicago. This issue is simply a PR gimmick for him.

  6. - Bill White - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    The next map might look like the Japanese “Rising Sun” flag with pie slices radiating out from Chicago in many directions.

    Maybe Kirk Dillard’s current state senate district could extend eastward to Lake Michigan.

  7. - McHenry Mike - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:27 am:

    The legality of the entire effort is still very much in doubt. When Quinn put the single member state representative districting on the ballot, it automatically changed the size of the legislature so it affected the “structure” of the General Assembly as required by the state constitution. However, when Quinn tried to get term limits on the ballot ten years later it was blocked by the state Supreme Court. Rauner is attempting to get around this by tacking on changes in the size of the GA but this is unrelated to term limits. The Court could decide that it is a severable issue and break off the term limits from the rest of the proposal leaving voters only with the question of reducing the size of the GA. Or, they could decide that it would be unclear of the signers of the petition would have still signed it had term limits not been included and bar the whole thing. It looks like this is primarily a campaign ploy by Rauner. He wins either way. If it makes the ballot he can take the credit. If it fails he can cry foul. Plus he can hide campaign money in the petition effort.

  8. - Downstate Illinois - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:32 am:

    I haven’t seen any mention of this, but would Rauner’s House plan be like the pre-Cutback Amendment, there voters could vote for up to three candidates, but only two would be from the same party?

  9. - warhed - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:38 am:

    Desperate times for Illinois require desperate measures. You boys can keep on fiddling while Rome burns…or change the status quo like Rauner. I have a real sense the tide is rolling in his favor.

  10. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:44 am:

    “your chances of having input face to face to your state senator are greatly diminished”

    It is not like most people have much input face to face with our State Senator now anyway.

    There are arguments against Rauner’s plan, but that’s not one of the stronger arguments.

  11. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:46 am:

    Term limits have always been a dumb idea. We already have term limits and they are called elections. As for his idea to make it harder to override a gubernatorial veto, Illinois already has one of the strongest Governor’s in the country. I guess Rauner wants to up the ante a bit in that regard.

  12. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    I thought the Senate had already been reduced to 40 members.

  13. - Old and In The Way - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:50 am:

    If you really want to open up the elections in Illinois take a look at what California did. They have a single open primary for ALL candidates, including independents. After the primary the top two vote getters run against each other in the general election. Could be Republican vs Republican or any combination. There have been more incumbents ousted in California, effectively a one party state, than there has been in a very long time. We are headed in a different direction in Illinois by limiting both independents and primaries. If you want competition there are ways besides cousin Brucey’s simplistic remapping.

  14. - Chris - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:56 am:

    “How would having 3 House seats in each Senate district stop incumbency advantage. How will 3 Reps per Senate district allow for challengers any differently than the current system ?”

    The theory is pretty plain: that House members run for Senate seats. And if there are 3 House members potentially vying for the one Senate seat, the entry of one into that race is less likely preclude one of the other 2 from also running for the Senate.

    Pretty thin gruel, I think, but not hard to figure out the idea behind it, and the fundamental logic of the idea coming out of economic theories of individual action/decision-making.

  15. - Stones - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 11:57 am:

    Didn’t work back in the day when PQ reduced the size of the legislature and won’t work now. If I recall correctly, part of the argument was the sheer # of bills introduced with 177 members of the house. I think the following year after the reduction, there were more pieces of legislation introduced.

    Truthfully, I think State government was worse, not better after cumulative voting was eliminated.

  16. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 12:03 pm:

    I guess the State Plane will be accessable to all these fewer state Senators to cover their districts?

    - Michelle Flaherty -

    Still cleaning up coffee!

  17. - Ahoy - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 12:05 pm:

    I’m not sure I trust a guy who is running for Governor and supporting a constitutional amendment to make it harder for legislators to override a governor’s veto. I think the current system is great.

    Also, if Rauner is wanting make elections more competitive, why doesn’t he get behind the independent map initiative instead of creating his own goofy proposal?

  18. - Nearly Normal - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 12:23 pm:

    Downstaters would be upset to have fewer senators. The distances in some of these districts would make it hard to get to offices and other meetings. There is enough distance already in some of the southern districts.

    We don’t need to make state senators more remote from their constituents. Still need to pass a bill in both chambers before it gets to the Gov.

  19. - SO IL M - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 12:40 pm:

    A better plan to change the make up of the Senate would be to model it somewhat on the basis of the US Senate which apportions Senators based on geography not population. Where in the US Senate you have 2 Senators per State to give each State and equal voice regardless of size, if each Senate District is comprised of 2 adjoining Counties, you would reduce the size of the Senate to 51 seats, and give each Senate District an equal voice in that Chamber. This would divide power across the State more evenly, so will be ridiculed by those in Cook County.

  20. - Will Caskey - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 12:54 pm:

    SO IL M that would also egregiously break one-man one-vote and would thus never pass judicial review.

  21. - Veritas - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 12:55 pm:

    With Daley dropping out - don’t forget that term limits was Quinn’s idea first - thus neutralizing that issue for Rauner. The only issue to debate would be who is more of a Democrat and Rauner couls claim that crown due to his contributions to fellow Dems.

  22. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 1:07 pm:

    –A better plan to change the make up of the Senate would be to model it somewhat on the basis of the US Senate which apportions Senators based on geography not population–

    Really, you think that would be a good idea down in Southern Illinois, lol?

    Why is it a good idea to transfer representation from people to corn stalks?

    And what do counties have to do with anything?

    I suspect the 575,000 residents of Wyoming think its swell that they have the same representation in the U.S. Senate as the 38 million residents of California.

  23. - Ray del Camino - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 1:15 pm:

    States are limited to the “one person-one vote” makeup of their legislatures, no matter which house. The US Senate is not.

    And the answer to the problem is not term limits. It’s independent maps.

  24. - Norseman - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 1:16 pm:

    Michelle deserves a drink for a great comment.

  25. - skeptical spectacle - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 1:18 pm:

    as for me, I like the California model

  26. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 1:20 pm:

    ===apportions Senators based on geography not population===

    Dude, this isn’t a college dorm in sophomore year. Grow up or go away.

  27. - Concerned GOPer - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 1:36 pm:

    How about stop wasting time, and circulate a petition to get on the ballot? He’s got at least 5k signatures to get in a couple of months and doesn’t even have a LG candidate yet.

    Has anyone not recognized that all Madigan has to do is introduce 3 Constitutional Amendment proposals to appear on the ballot, and this will knock any Amendment off the ballot Rauner is proposing, regardless if he gets enough signatures? Doesn’t anyone remember the redistricting push in 2010 that never happened?

    This is PR and political placating…nothing of substance. When will we get some substance from this guy?

  28. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 1:49 pm:

    …and after spending half the campaign explaining his elaborate plan to alter Illinois state government, Mr. Rauner revealed his next plan - buying a million square miles of rock, dirt and building a mountain range from Rockford to Dixon and naming the new mountain range after Ronald Reagan.

    …then he spent a month discussing how, as governor, he’d let Michael Madigan buy the Reagan Mountains to offset the state debt.

  29. - Concerned GOPer - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 2:08 pm:

    I don’t think the “[I’m so rich] I can’t be bought by union bosses and special interests” is going to work. Backhandedly bragging about his wealth will backfire with the populist mindset in Illinois.

  30. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 2:27 pm:

    What about the incumbent Senators ? Even if this works, it would only be for the first election cycle. After that they would all be incumbents, having the same power of incumbency that exists now.

    “The theory is pretty plain: that House members run for Senate seats. And if there are 3 House members potentially vying for the one Senate seat, the entry of one into that race is less likely preclude one of the other 2 from also running for the Senate.

    Pretty thin gruel, I think, but not hard to figure out the idea behind it, and the fundamental logic of the idea coming out of economic theories of individual action/decision-making.”

  31. - Old and In The Way - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 2:31 pm:

    What Rauner’s proposal reveals is a lack of ANY real political knowledge or experience. His notion of how reps challenge senators is not only simplistic but its wrong! He also reveals his lack of knowledge about downstate Illinois. He fails to understand the culture and mindset of downstate Illinois. As popular as term limits poll, the reality is that downstaters tend to like and reward long serving legislators. Further, any proposal, like this one, that feeds into the myth that downstate is under represented (which they are not) will also be viewed as suspect. Both Rauner and Daley suffer from priveledged white man syndrome! Both suffer under the delusion that because they are rich they are politically savy and generally smarter than the rest of us.

  32. - lincoln's beard - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 3:10 pm:

    Why not eliminate the IL Senate entirely and move to a unicameral legislature? It’s not clear to me that there’s any advantage to having two houses in the first place. Combine the House and Senate into a single body!

  33. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 3:11 pm:

    ===move to a unicameral legislature===

    Spoken like someone who hasn’t seen the GA up close. One chamber? I’ll pass, thanks.

  34. - Norseman - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 3:14 pm:

    *** Author: Rich Miller
    ===move to a unicameral legislature===

    Spoken like someone who hasn’t seen the GA up close. One chamber? I’ll pass, thanks.***

    Rich has that right.

  35. - skeptical spectacle - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 3:56 pm:

    I think that any positions challenging the status quo in Illinois government, which has clearly been a massive failure, should be seen in a positive light. Whether they become law or not is another story. It is the entrenched forces who don’t want anything changed because it would threaten to diminish their special interests that attack new ideas.

    We need more new ideas, not all them will be good ones, but we new fresh air and sunshine in this state. It smells like a junior high boys locker room in springfield.

    Candidates who exude such a spirit are on the right track and they can expect to be attacked by those want to maintain things as they are currently, which though they are bad for that state as a whole, they benefit a few powerful and organized groups.

  36. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 6:48 pm:

    McHenry Mike makes a good point.

    Under Rauner’s legal theory, you could propose any Constitutional amendment as long as you tack on a provision changing the structure of the legislature at the end.

    That does not seem kosher to me…certainly not what the framers intended.

  37. - mokenavince - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 7:56 pm:

    As a died in the wool RINO I like his plan cut State government. An easy way to save money.

  38. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Sep 17, 13 @ 10:12 pm:

    Because the last cutback to the GA worked out so well.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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