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Calabrese shows how to create two Latino congressional districts as group files complaint with Department of Justice over legislative maps

Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021

* I was going to do a piece on this today, but Politico saved me the trouble

There’s an opportunity for state lawmakers to create a second Latino congressional district, according to a remap consultant who testified before the Senate Redistricting Committee on Tuesday. The panel is taking public input before it goes behind closed doors to come up with the new boundaries for 17 congressional districts — one less than the current 18.

Illinois has a larger Latino population than Arizona, which has two Latino members of Congress. Only California, Texas, Florida, and New York have higher Latino numbers, according to Frank Calabrese, who is representing Chicago Ald. Gilbert Villegas, chairman of the Latino Caucus, in calling for a second Latino congressional district.

Calabrese says voter engagement among Hispanics has changed since lawmakers first drew Illinois’ 4th Congressional District, now held by Rep. Chuy Garcia. (The district was nicknamed “the earmuffs” because of its odd shape.)

“The 4th District was created a few decades ago because Latinos weren’t voting at high rates and you had to make it a super-Latino district to work,” Calabrese told Playbook after the hearing. “That’s not the case anymore. You don’t need to have a district that needs to be 70 percent Latino.”

He pointed to New York as a good example. The state has one Latino majority district and three other districts that have a Latino plurality. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s district, for example, is 47 percent Latino, according to the presentation packet Calabrese gave to lawmakers Tuesday.

In Illinois, he told lawmakers, there’s an opportunity to create a second district in addition to Garcia’s district, which encompasses the South and West sides of Chicago.

There are enough Latinos on the North Side of the city and in the suburbs to create a Latino-centric district that would count 50 percent of Latinos — from northwest Chicago, Melrose Park, Franklin Park, Bensenville, Addison, and Des Plaines. Garcia’s district could continue with a supermajority of Latinos, 67 percent. Some of those areas are now part of Rep. Mike Quigley’s 5th Congressional District.

* Click the pic for a larger version of Calabrese’s proposed maps that he sent me yesterday and more explanation

* Meanwhile

The Illinois African Americans for Equitable Redistricting (IAAFER) has filed a complaint with the Department of Justice to ensure that the [new state legislative] maps optimize opportunities for minority voters to elect candidates of their choice. IAAFER also shared concerns regarding prison gerrymandering and how the practice will divert over $800 million from Black communities to prison towns between now and the next Census.

Spokesman Norman Montgomery called the latest version of the maps the most retrogressive redistricting plan in state history, with the lowest number of majority Black districts in 40 years. The number of majority Black representative districts has been cut from 16 in 2011, to 8 in 2021. The number of Black senate districts has been cut from 8 to 4.

“We are back to where we were in 1990,” Montgomery said. “How do you make progress if you lose what you’ve gained over the last 20 years in 20-year increments? You can’t do that.”

IAAFER notes that Black people comprised 14% of Illinois’ population in 2011, and still comprise 14% of the state’s population. However, the number of majority Black districts has been cut by 50%. Whites comprised 60% of Illinois’ population in 2011, and 58% in 2021. Yet, 69% of the districts drawn in the Democrat’s redistricting plan are majority white.

The complaint is here.

Let’s look at the House data. Click here for district demographics. You’ll see, for instance, that House districts 6-10 have between 39 and 49.5 percent Black voting age population. All but one of them had 50+ percent in the last remap. All of the current incumbents in those districts are Black and some are quite powerful, including House Speaker Chris Welch (42.3 percent) and Rep. Sonya Harper, the Joint Caucus Chair for the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (45.4 percent). Population on the West Side is becoming more racially diverse as whites and others move in, so Rep. La Shawn Ford’s new district went from 55.3 percent VAP Black to 49.5 percent this time around.

* Onward to the farcical hearings

But a House hearing on Tuesday lasted only 15 minutes, most of which was taken up by a roll call for attendance and a pro-forma introductory lesson on the redistricting process, given that zero witnesses submitted testimony virtually, or in-person.

State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said the address listed for the Joliet hearing site location was incorrect and led to a literal dead-end; he said he was the only legislator on the committee to physically attend.

House redistricting chair State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, noted that additional hearings are scheduled the rest of this week and encouraged members of the public to participate in them.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

12 Comments
  1. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 10:38 am:

    How can anyone say this process isn’t corrupt? Politicians choosing their voters and going to extreme lengths to hide what they’re doing.


  2. - Jessica - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 10:38 am:

    If two Latino Districts are created, wouldn’t MALDEF have to oppose the Federal map to be consistent with their State Map objections regarding packing in high Latino voting age populations?


  3. - SWIL_Voter - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 10:50 am:

    == How can anyone say this process isn’t corrupt? ==

    The lifetime appointees in the majority at SCOTUS have the final word and they say gerrymandering is hunky dory


  4. - John Lopez - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 10:51 am:

    === If two Latino Districts are created, wouldn’t MALDEF have to oppose the Federal map to be consistent with their State Map objections regarding packing in high Latino voting age populations? ===

    MALDEF would not object to the idea brought forward by Calabrese. The approach is similar to a new stylish trend of “unpacking” supermajority racial/ethnic districts, into majority-minority districts with neighboring district as an “influencer”, with high enough plurality of minorities to have influence in electing the Congress member.

    This similar approach being pushed in Alabama and South Carolina, too.

    Curious if Dave Wasserman of Cook Political Report w/ Amy Walter received this idea, and if he’ll add analysis to it, with his own hypothetical map.

    He published an article in the Atlantic on September 20, “Is It Time to Rethink Hyper-Minority Districts?” which appears to being followed with Calabrese’s idea.


  5. - muon - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 10:57 am:

    Jessica - Packing is illegal if it is used to deny minority voters the right to elect candidates of their choice. If there is a northwest district and there aren’t enough Latino voters on the southwest side to have two districts on that side, then the southwest side district as drawn wouldn’t constitute packing.

    Keeping the northwest and southwest sides together in only one district when two are possible would likely be found to be packing. That’s why a single district would likely be opposed by MALDEF and other groups.

    It’s worth noting that the two districts don’t have to be entirely separate. It’s possible to augment the Latino voting population on the northwest side with some from the southwest side, as long as enough are left on the southwest side to elect the candidate of their choice.


  6. - Jessica - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 12:10 pm:

    John Lopez = MALDEF would not object to the idea brought forward by Calabrese. The approach is similar to a new stylish trend of “unpacking” supermajority racial/ethnic districts, into majority-minority districts with neighboring district as an “influencer”, with high enough plurality of minorities to have influence in electing the Congress member. =

    MALDEF is objecting to Latino Districts with 45% Voting Age Population. The Districts presented here reflect Total Population, not Voting Age Population so VAP for the northside district would be well below 50% because the Latino population skews younger.


  7. - Jessica - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 12:13 pm:

    muon = It’s possible to augment the Latino voting population on the northwest side with some from the southwest side, as long as enough are left on the southwest side to elect the candidate of their choice. =

    If the line drawn that connects the north side to the south side is in the City, the west side African-American district could be significantly impacted.


  8. - Jessica - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 12:22 pm:

    John Lopez - MALDEF is objecting to Latino Districts at 45% Voting Age Population in the State Map. I’m not sure it sure they would approve a Federal District with 50% Total Population?


  9. - Been There - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 12:26 pm:

    ==== You’ll see, for instance, that House districts 6-10 have between 39 and 49.5 percent====
    One thing to keep in mind is that whites, even in Chicago, pull a GOP ballot (or don’t vote in primaries) more than Latinos and definitely more than African Americans. So a district with potential voters of near 50% of minority voters in a primary can be won by a minority. And whatever Dem wins the primary will win the general. Of course this is all based on whether there are sham candidates put up to split the vote.


  10. - twowaystreet - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 1:00 pm:

    I am just wondering what is politically viable with these districts with O’Hare being in the north district and Midway being in the South district.


  11. - muon - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 2:51 pm:

    Jessica - The current connection is to the west of IL-7. It was approved by the courts to preserve a Black district on the west side while creating a Latino district. I’m just saying that the same western connection could be used with two Latino districts, too.


  12. - Amalia - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 4:18 pm:

    what an interesting proposal. the West Side of Chicago is no longer the monolith for the Black community that it once was. what about the traditional “Jewish” district? if that still exists, why not two Hispanic districts? Hispanics are the majority minority in Chicago. this map might be easier than that of the Chicago City Council.


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