Illinois Redistricting

A copy of the new approved Illinois Election District Map | Photo Credit:

Enacted November 24, 2021, Illinois congressional redistricting maps were signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker. Decennially, redistricting is a contentious issue. 2021 proved no different. Due to population loss, Illinois now holds 17 U.S. House seats, down from the prior 18. The decline in seats gave Illinois Democrats more space to delineate district borders that weaken conservative influence.

Maps drawn up by Illinois Democrats have faced fierce scrutiny from their critics across the aisle. GOP lawmakers and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) filed a suit against the proposed drawn state legislature map in June 2021. The plaintiffs argued that the map was created using preliminary census data. A federal court affirmed their claim, throwing out the proposed map for violation of the “one-person, one-vote” principle. This equal protection clause under the 14th Amendment is meant to keep district populations relatively close while shielding voters from discrimination.

MALDEF and Illinois Republicans filed another suit months later against the now-approved state legislature maps but were unsuccessful in their venture. “The Court unfortunately agreed with Illinois legislative leaders that their map was just good enough for Latino voters for technical reasons, despite the facts that Latinos remain underrepresented in the General Assembly and continue to be left behind in education, housing access, healthcare, and income”, stated MALDEF Staff Attorney Ernest Herrera.

In 2021, Rep. Maurice West (D-Rockford) was able to get his bill passed allowing those awaiting trial to cast their vote. This comes at a period when several states are enacting stricter voting laws. Texas, for example, now requires those who are assisting disabled voters to provide their information when submitting the ballot, tighter surveillance on ballot counting, bans on drive-thru voting, etc. LaShawn Ford (D- Chicago) proposed an amendment to West’s law which would allow incarcerated individuals to vote from their last registered address. This bill was struck down in late 2021.

Illinois’ constitution requires all state legislative redistricting to be “contiguous and compact.” In Scott v. Grivetti (1971), the Court, in their ambiguous way, decided that “compact” meant “reasonably compact.” Although the Court leaves the definition up to loose constructionism, Congressional maps do not face the same restrictions. In the current maps, this is evident:

New congressional maps signed into law (

15th Congressional

In the finished Congressional maps, the GOP takes the largest hit. Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) has been given entire control of heavily conservative Southern Illinois. What does that mean for everyone else? Bost absorbed much of Rep. Mary Miller’s district including Cole County, where Miller resides. Bost is a popular figure in southern Illinois due to his outrage on the Illinois house floor, shooting a dog that was attacking a young girl, and allegiance to former President Donald Trump. Miller, who is still largely into her infancy as Congresswoman, decided to challenge 5-term incumbent Rodney Davis in the new 15th Congressional.

Perhaps the most contestable race in this election, the 15th Congressional is a Republican stronghold. Davis (R-Taylorville) had teased a gubernatorial campaign in 2022. It is believed that the heavily Republican district was designed to keep Rep. Davis away from Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Rep. Mary Miller is best known for her comments at the Jan. 6 rallies, “Hitler was right on one thing, whoever has the youth has the future.” Miller is one of the strongest supporters of Trumpism and is endorsed by the former President. Davis, who had a supportive voting record with Donald Trump, is also known for working across the aisle. Davis has support from 32 of 35 GOP party chairman.


16th Congressional  

In response to the revised map, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Kankakee), known for his dissension from former President Donald Trump, has opted out of his race against incumbent Darin LaHood (R- Peoria). LaHood, who once held much of the new 15th Congressional district, now will have to hold down parts of central Illinois up to the Wisconsin border. Like Davis, LaHood will be expected to win a strong Republican district over a widespread geographical area.


6th Congressional

Freshman Rep. Marie Newman (D- LaGrange) was paired against incumbent Rep. Jose “Chuy” Garcia (D- Chicago) in newly redistricted maps. Newman rather believes she has a better chance against Rep. Sean Casten (D- Chicago).  Roughly 40% of Newman’s district has been absorbed into Casten’s district. Casten, who took over for former Rep. Peter Roskam in 2019, was a strong supporter of President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Illinois will acquire over $1 billion in federal money for infrastructure repairs. Although Casten is senior to Newman this could be a race to watch come June.


91st House Seat

One of the more consequential state legislature races, Republican and member of Normal Town Council Scott Preston will run for the 91st House Seat. Preston is the youngest member to serve on Normal’s Town Council and is now serving his eighth year. Currently, Preston would not face a primary opponent. That said, Karla Bailey-Smith, a Democrat small-business owner, has elected to run against Preston in the general election. Bailey-Smith may face a primary opponent in former Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner. Renner has not yet formally announced his candidacy.


13th Congressional District

The 13th Congressional District, which encapsulates the UIS Campus, has been a Republican stronghold for years. Under the new map, this may not be the case. The district now consumes more blue territories such as Champaign, Decatur, East St. Louis and the eastern half of Springfield. Currently only two Democrats have thrown their hat into the ring. Nikki Budzinski (D) was a former advisor to President Biden and Governor J.B. Pritzker. David Palmer (D) is a former professional basketball player and a retirement planning advisor for Country Financial. Although no Republican candidate has announced their candidacy, one is likely to emerge in the coming weeks.


Gubernatorial Election

There are numerous Republican candidates in the gubernatorial primary aimed at taking down incumbent Governor J.B. Pritzker. Only two should be a concern. State Senator Darren Bailey (R- 55th District) is known for being strongly right-wing and a supporter of former President Trump. Bailey is a relatively new member as he just assumed office in January 2021. His running mate is former conservative radio talk show host Stephanie Trussell. Trussell has been under fire for surfaced tweets calling the former President “disgusting”.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin has decided to enter the race against Pritzker. Irvin is the city’s first black mayor and expects to receive financial backing from billionaire Ken Griffin. In order for Irvin to win, he will have to prove to downstate voters that he is conservative enough to earn their support. His running mate, Avery Bourne (R- Farmersville), is currently serving in the Illinois House.

Governor J.B. Pritzker has been both championed and scrutinized on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pritzker will be a tough opponent against any Republican challenger as he has the power to bankroll his own campaign and will receive strong support from Democrats. Republicans will have to attack his COVID response, police reform law and appeal to small business owners in relation to minimum wage increases to stand a chance against the incumbent.