Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker enacted new, partisan-drawn political maps for the state legislature, Illinois Supreme Court and Cook County Board of Review Friday, opening the door to a likely wave of Republican litigation over how the boundaries were composed.
The move by the first-term governor follows a campaign pledge in 2018 when he said he would veto any new maps drawn by legislators or partisan staff. The governor instead advocated that redistricting be turned over to a politically independent commission.
But the maps he signed Friday were, in fact, the handiwork of Democratic supermajorities in the Illinois House and Senate and could give the party an advantage in each legislative election cycle for the next decade.
Still, Pritzker has insisted he would not be reneging on his campaign pledge by signing the new maps because lawmakers could have set up a redistricting commission, as he favored, but failed to do so.
“Illinois’ strength is in our diversity, and these maps help to ensure that communities that have been left out and left behind have fair representation in our government,” he said. “These district boundaries align with both the federal and state Voting Rights Acts, which help to ensure our diverse communities have electoral power and fair representation.”
Republicans have balked at all of the Democratic maps because they were built using demographic estimates, rather than actual U.S. Census data, which has been delayed in being released to Illinois and other states because of the pandemic.
But Democrats were in a race to complete the political mapmaking because the state constitution requires decennial political maps be approved by June 30. If they aren’t, a process is launched that ultimately could have put the GOP in charge of drafting the new maps.
After Pritzker signed the bill Friday, Republicans bashed him for breaking his campaign promise.
“Governor Pritzker, you sold out,” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said at a news conference. “You sold out independents. You sold out Republicans. You sold out Democrats to the partisan Democrat machine which has destroyed Illinois. And governor, not only did you sell out, but you lied.”
Republican legislative leaders were repeatedly asked when they intend to file a legal challenge to the maps Pritzker signed, but they gave no commitment.
“We’ll look at that this weekend and we’ll see how we can best return power to the people,” Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said.