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House Republicans continue to drive Statehouse media coverage

Friday, May 7, 2021

* Yesterday, Assistant House Majority Leader Lisa Hernandez, House Majority Leader Greg Harris, Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, House Deputy Majority Leader Mary Flowers and Assistant House Majority Leader Marcus Evans held a press conference.

Leader Hernandez, who also chairs the chamber’s redistricting committee, led the press conference. Leader Harris gave a rare budget and revenue briefing [subscribers know more]. Rep. Gong-Gershowitz talked about Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and the increase in racist attacks and her legislative efforts to combat it. Leader Flowers spoke about her Statue and Monument Review Task Force. Leader Evans talked about workers’ rights.

It was quite the show. Not the presentations, but the questions, which (except for a couple like “Why are we even in tomorrow?”) almost all focused on the remap

The Democratic majority at the Illinois statehouse is continuing on with their process of drawing new legislative boundaries for the next ten years, despite minority Republicans criticizing the process.

Several leading House Republicans held a news conference Thursday outside of a room inside a building at the capitol complex in Springfield they say Democrats are secretly drawing maps. […]

Later in the day at a separate news conference, House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said they’re looking at all the information brought forth in public hearings. Asked why not invite Republicans to the Democrats’ room, Harris said “we haven’t been invited in their rooms either.”

Spain said Republicans have a map room and they opened it up to the press.

“Which is just a computer screen, the Democrats’ website up, and we’re clicking buttons showing that there’s no public testimony, not data presented, no transparency whatsoever,” Spain said.

That’s quite the framing, by the way. The Democrats should stop doing something just because the GOP complains?

* Sun-Times

Across the street from the Illinois State Capitol in the backroom of a government office building, Democrats are huddled behind closed doors drawing the legislative maps that will be used over the next ten years.

At his first news conference as his chamber’s top leader in January, state House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch called for a “new day” following the decades-long reign of former Speaker Michael Madigan, saying the redistricting process would be “as transparent as possible.”

But less than four months later, Welch is using the same backroom Madigan used ten years ago to draw the maps in secret. […]

“I asked the chair of the House redistricting committee … if she had anything for me. And she said no. So, we have asked to be involved, we want to be involved. But the Democrats won’t let us,” the Springfield Republican [Rep. Tim Butler] said.

That Democratic chair, state Rep. Lisa Hernandez, called the redistricting process “amazing” at a separate news conference Thursday. She noted that the House has held 30 public redistricting hearings, which was 13 more than were held when the maps were last redrawn a decade ago.

“Amazing” is one word for it. Also, the news media treated the “discovery” of that “secret” meeting room as some sort of big news, when, as the Sun-Times notes, it’s been used for that purpose for quite a long time. House Republican staffers were telling reporters earlier this week where the map room was and encouraged them to go check it out and it was treated as a bright, shiny ball.

* Capitol News Illinois

Democrats have not said exactly what data has been used in the mapmaking process thus far. They did, however, point to the House Redistricting Committee’s 30 public hearings on the matter, noting they heard testimony from advocacy groups and the public providing input on the process.

During an unrelated news conference Thursday, Democratic leaders brushed off the Republicans’ criticisms, saying this is the normal process that state lawmakers have used in years past.

“We are just following the process like we always do, (the Republicans are) doing the same thing,” said Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, assistant majority leader and chair of the Redistricting Committee.

She said ACS data is just one source, but not the sole source being used to draw the maps.

Look, I get the “secret” room stuff. But, the Democrats ought to be a whole lot more forthcoming about which numbers they’re using. That’s a far more legitimate issue than a super-majority party locking out a super-minority party from the remap process.

* SJ-R

“Politicians should not be allowed to select their own voters,” Spain said, looking down the hall at the locked door on the room Democrats had used. “Today, we actually get to see exactly where it happens. It is completely an injustice to democracy that we bear witness to this kind of action.

“This is the doorway to further corruption in the state of Illinois, and it needs to stop,” Spain said.

Added Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, another Redistricting Committee member, “This map has huge consequences for the next 10 years, and if we see this kind of backdoor process play out, that is not one that empowers voters.”

Kudos to the HGOPs for once again winning the media cycle.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - anon2 - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:41 am:

    If there’s no map by June 30, then it goes to a draw. If the GOP would win the draw, have they committed to the kind of bipartisan, cooperative process they are now demanding?

  2. - Former Downstater - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:43 am:

    Are the Republicans not meeting at all internally to discuss the map? Or are they doing it in the hallway, completely open to the public, and I’ve missed coverage of it?

  3. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:46 am:

    I wish I could have been a fly in the wall on those closed door remap hearings. Would be interesting to see what they proposed for especially for the Springfield and west central Illinois areas.

  4. - Joe Schmoe - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:47 am:

    Republicans are winning the PR battle on this one…

  5. - RNUG - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:47 am:

    These days winning the media news cycle is almost as good as winning, period.

    Under MJM the D’s pretty much didn’t have a media project. I was hoping for more communication (and disclosure) under the new leadership.

  6. - Roman - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:48 am:

    == Kudos to the HGOPs for once again winning the media cycle. ==

    No doubt. They’ve won repeatedly. That and $2.50 will get them a ride on the Red Line.

  7. - Homebody - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:54 am:

    Winning media cycles is easy when you don’t actually want to govern. Governing is hard. Governing requires making tough choices on things like budgets and balancing competing but often equally legitimate priorities.

    It is far far easier to just complain.

  8. - Socially DIstant Watcher - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:56 am:

    ==But, the Democrats ought to be a whole lot more forthcoming about which numbers they’re using. ==

    The Dems don’t need to use a single set of numbers. They could draw maps and evaluate them based on several sets of numbers. Why should they commit now to one dataset?

  9. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:57 am:

    ===Why should they commit now to one dataset?===

    I didn’t say that, dummy.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:58 am:

    === Kudos to the HGOPs for once again winning the media cycle.===

    It got my attention. I mean, Maxwell’s visuals, the HRepublicans couldn’t have edited it better.

    I still liken it to “Geraldo Rivera and Al Capone’s” silliness, but that’s one aspect, getting media to cover it and get the cycle on their side, that won the day.

    But… you can only reveal “Al Capone’s Vault” once.

    It’s not the HRaunerites are engaged in governing. Heck, they’re complaining their being shut out from doing “anything”.

    Might as well win the day. Geraldo did.

  11. - Curious citizen - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:02 pm:

    It’s May, and Statehouse reporters are still in love with the ILGOP’s never-ending “Democrats are mean to us” line.
    And why don’t reporters ever point out that reps like Tim Butler are in non-competitive districts? His seat will have a Republican in it no matter how the lines are drawn.

  12. - Responsa - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:08 pm:

    “Politicians should not be allowed to select their own voters,”

    This is a great line.

  13. - RIJ - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:15 pm:

    The Democrats should just do what the want and ignore the whining, obstructionist Republicans. I might care once Republican gerrymandered North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Utah, Texas, Ohio draw fair districts. Liberals are always too willing to set a good example. Forget that and keep the power.

  14. - Wow - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:20 pm:

    R’s win the media war. D’s win elections.. hence they control the map process.

  15. - Norseman - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:21 pm:

    Yes, the GQP is winning the media cycle. Not a lot of hard hitting work going on by the reporters. Simply accepting the pablum being fed to them.

    In the past the caucuses were allocated money for redistricting expenses. I’d be shocked if they hadn’t for this cycle. Maybe someone should check to see if GQP expenditures from these funds are as empty as their faux map room.

  16. - Joe Bidenopolous - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:27 pm:

    ==Kudos to the HGOPs for once again winning the media cycle==

    Indeed. It’s not winning an election, but hey, baby steps

  17. - The Dude Abides - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:30 pm:

    Right or wrong the Democrats are going to draw the Districts to enable them to stay in power. In GOP controlled states that’s what they are already doing too. They think redistricting will allow them to win back the House in 2022.

  18. - anon2 - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:38 pm:

    Does anyone believe that if the GOP won the draw, they would craft a map with the transparent, bipartisan process they insist the Dems should do?

  19. - Ducky LaMoore - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:38 pm:

    “Politicians should not be allowed to select their own voters,”

    The Supreme Court Justices from his party disagree.

  20. - Anonanonsir - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:42 pm:

    It’s been discussed here how flawed the ACS data were, leading to Trib editorials that were way off the mark. Hard to see credible maps with ACS data.

    The GOP is raising the profile of the issue. Good for them.

  21. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 1:06 pm:

    ===Hard to see credible maps with ACS data===

    The five-year ACS estimates, which the Tribune ignored, were only slightly off.

  22. - thisjustinagain - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 4:26 pm:

    I’m from the Cook County area; is WCIA always this melodramatic? Not that Chicago news stations don’t do this, but if the meeting isn’t subject to OMA, and it’s all preliminary pending actual Census data (see IL Con. Art. IV, Sec. 2(a) and 3(b) which removes any doubt on this point), then as the old Wendy’s commercial said “Where’s the beef?”

    The lack of transparency isn’t surprising, since everything is “preliminary” for now, and in Illinois the public is often treated as “nobody that nobody sent” anyway until the show hearings after decisions have already been made by the Legislature or State agencies to go a particular direction on an issue.

    The Remapping Theater will continue, with the usual roles being played by the usual parties. However, this year the GOP has an opportunity to derail the Dems by challenging any final map done without official Census data, knowing IL already has lost enough population to lose a Federal seat, and some individual Dems are in weak positions for the redistricting.

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