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Newman to challenge Casten in new 6th District

By Bob Bong and Capitol News Illinois

When the dust settled on congressional redistricting last week in Springfield, the old 3rd District was no more.

Southwest Side city neighborhoods and southwestern suburbs that made up the 3rd District for the past 10 years were divvied up into at least three districts.

Parts or all of Chicago’s Clearing and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods, along with the suburbs of Summit, McCook, Forest View, Stickney, Lyons and Brookfield were moved into a newly drawn 4th District with Democratic incumbents Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Marie Newman.

The majority of suburbs that once called the 3rd District home now find themselves in a newly drawn 6th District that runs from Villa Park on the north to Tinley Park on the south and west from Lisle to Beverly. It includes communities such as Orland Park, Palos Heights, Palos Park, Oak Lawn, Hickory Hills, Worth, Chicago Ridge, Palos Hills, Bridgeview, Bedford Park, Willow Springs, Countryside, and Hodgkins.

Evergreen Park finds itself split into both Bobby Rush’s 1st District and the new 6th District. The 1st District actually wraps around Tinley Park and Orland Hills and heads north toward Lemont along Will-Cook Road.

In Palos Park, the Cog Hill Golf Course and Gleneagles Country Club actually find themselves in the new 11th District.

Shortly after the new map was unveiled, Newman announced she would not challenge Garcia in a 4th District that was overwhelmingly Hispanic. Instead, she said she would challenge fellow Democratic incumbent Sean Casten in the new 6th District, which she said contained about 40 percent of her 3rd District territory.

“As someone born and raised on Chicago’s Southwest Side and a lifelong resident of its surrounding suburbs, fighting for workers, small businesses, and the middle-class in these communities is in my DNA, and that fight is not going to stop now,” said Newman.

“Last year, we made history by bringing together a coalition of neighbors, working families, volunteers, and voters from every corner of our communities to stand up against decades-old Machine politics, billionaires, and deep-pocketed special interests – and, we are doing it again. I am proud to announce that I am once again running to represent the residents of Chicago’s Southwest Side and our neighbors in the surrounding west and southwest suburbs. The lion’s share of this new district is made up of the communities and residents I represent today and I look forward to continuing to serve them in Congress.”

Casten, of Downers Grove, Casten had said early Friday, after the map was approved, that he would seek re-election.

After Newman’s announcement, Casten issued a statement saying, “I have never wanted to see friends run against friends.”

“I believe the shared goal of every House member is to maintain and expand our House majority and work on behalf of all constituents and community members who fought tirelessly to elect us,” he said. “As I said last night, I look forward to continuing to serve the people of the 6th District as we work to make historic investments in climate action, and for families and workers.”

As for not living in the new 6th District, Newman said her home in LaGrange was moved into the 4th District “in the middle of the night on Thursday night at the request of a handful of wealthy donors and high-level politicians.”

Even though Newman lives a few blocks into the new 4th District, you do not have to live in a Congressional district to run for that seat. You do, however, have to move into the district if elected.

If she does indeed run, it would be her third straight primary battle. She duked it out with incumbent Dan Lipinski in the 2018 and 2020 Democratic primaries.

The primary would be held June 28, 2022, as the General Assembly moved next year’s primary election to the summer instead of its usual March date.

Illinois loses a seat

The new congressional map divides Illinois into 17 districts, one fewer than it currently has due to its loss of population since the 2010 U.S. Census.

The map was the fourth draft plan that legislative Democrats had proposed over the previous two weeks.

Like earlier versions, it collapses two southern Illinois districts into a single district while carving up much of downstate Illinois into a number of oddly-shaped districts that put cities as far apart as East St. Louis and Champaign into one district, with Bloomington and Rockford linked in another.

“This will be the most gerrymandered map in the country,” Sen. Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles) said during floor debate. “And this process will be used as the poster child for why politicians should never be allowed to draw their own maps.”

But Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), who carried the bill on the floor of the Senate, defended the maps, saying, “I’m here to stand behind the work we’ve done.”

“We’ve shown our maps to the public. We have presented them in hearing after hearing after hearing. We have refined them based on the input that we’ve gotten. And I’m proud of this map,” he said.

Most of the legislative wrangling over the past two weeks, however, centered on Chicago and the collar counties, and pressure from within the Democratic caucus to create a second largely-Latino district because of the rapid population growth within that community over the past 10 years.

Illinois’ congressional delegation is currently divided 13-5 in favor of Democrats. Independent analysts, including the nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project, have estimated that earlier iterations of the plan would give Democrats as many as 14 seats, and Republicans as few as three.

If that holds true, it could have national implications because Democratic congressional leaders are looking to states like Illinois and New York to help offset losses they expect to take in states where Republicans control the redistricting process.

The redistricting plan passed the Senate on a straight party line vote, 41-18. It passed the House nearly on a party line vote, 71-43, losing two Democratic votes.

Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) did not vote on the remap proposal. The lone Democratic “no” vote came from Rep. Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar, who was appointed to the 22nd state legislative district in Chicago to replace former House Speaker Michael Madigan, who resigned earlier this year.

Guerrero-Cuellar said on the floor that she remained upset about how the 22nd District was reshaped during the legislative redistricting process in August.

“And there was something done to that district intentionally to exclude Latinos and that representation,” she said. “So, when someone tells me, ‘Hey, we’re here to represent the Latinos on the Southwest Side,’ I’m going to say, hold on. That was not the case.”

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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