Illinois Democrats are going for a second Latino congressional seat in their newly redrawn map

us capitol
Illinois Democrats are looking to hold onto power in Washington with their latest proposal to redraw the state's congressional district boundaries. Associated Press
us capitol
Illinois Democrats are looking to hold onto power in Washington with their latest proposal to redraw the state's congressional district boundaries. Associated Press

Illinois Democrats are going for a second Latino congressional seat in their newly redrawn map

WBEZ brings you fact-based news and information. Sign up for our newsletters to stay up to date on the stories that matter.

Illinois Democrats offered a second Latino-leaning congressional district and pitted two suburban Chicago Democratic incumbents against one another in a highly-anticipated, revised congressional map released late on Saturday.

The new boundaries represent the party’s second stab at drawing its political map for the 17 U.S. House members who will represent Illinois in Washington over the next decade and could influence which party controls Congress.

Democrats had produced an earlier map that seemed to make possible a net three-seat gain over Republicans. That could prove pivotal to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bid to retain the gavel in next year’s mid-term congressional elections that now favor Republicans.

But the new offering produced Saturday appears to at least hold open that possibility under the right circumstances, though political data was not immediately available. The plan is likely to be voted on in the upcoming week when lawmakers return to Springfield.

The new boundaries lay the groundwork for Latinos, the state’s fastest-growing demographic, to flex greater political muscle and possibly lay claim to a second seat in Illinois’ Congressional delegation.

A new east-west district currently lacking an incumbent connects Latino populations in Logan Square on Chicago’s Northwest Side and West Chicago in the western suburbs. That proposed district is nearly 44% Latino compared to 43% white, according to legislative data showing voting-age constituents. Only the 4th Congressional District now held by U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Chicago, has a higher concentration of Latino voters, standing at 62% on the new map.

“The changes made in this updated congressional map will help ensure the diversity of Illinois is reflected in Washington,” said state Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee. “We appreciate the many advocacy groups and individuals that continue to guide our work with passion and dedication, as we remain focused on the creation of a fair map that will provide equal representation for all.”

Aquino, who lists his residence in the new 3rd Congressional District, said he has not ruled out a potential bid for that seat assuming this latest map isn’t revised a third time before a possible vote. “It’s a serious conversation I’d need to have with my family,” he said.

The new map, however, creates a political conundrum for first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Marie Newman, of LaGrange, and sophomore Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, of Downers Grove, who have been drawn into the same district under this latest proposal.

The newly drawn 6th Congressional District covers a wide swath of the southwestern suburbs, stretching north into central DuPage County. Democratic mapmakers pared away sections of Casten’s current district, stretching into Lake County and west to the Fox River.

Unlike in the earlier version of the congressional map, Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, of Channahon, has been drawn into a neighboring district and wouldn’t face a 2022 pairing against Newman. Instead, Kinzinger’s home is in the same district as incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, of Dunlap, which is north of Peoria.

Kinzinger hasn’t made clear whether he intends to seek another term in Congress, run for statewide office or test the political waters nationally in a bid to derail Donald Trump from winning another term in the White House in 2024. Kinzinger suggested that he may not run for re-election in a statement after the previous maps were drawn, saying that he is “reviewing all of the options, including those outside the House.”

Democratic mapmakers also reconfigured freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood’s 14th Congressional District, lopping off GOP-leaning sections of McHenry County along the Wisconsin border and replacing those with Democratic-friendly areas of Naperville and Bolingbrook.

Democratic mapmakers also pitted GOP U.S. Reps Mary Miller, of Oakland, and Mike Bost, of Murphysboro, against one another in a district covering roughly the southern third of Illinois. Both are avid Trump, with Miller appearing alongside Trump acolyte, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, during a downstate fundraiser earlier this year.

There is no requirement that members of Congress live in the congressional districts they represent, but it is a difficult political climb to avoid the carpetbagger label that undoubtedly would come into play for anyone who might try that option.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, of Taylorville, was left in his own irregularly-shaped and mostly rural district that roughly covers the full width of the central third of the state.

The move could represent a Democratic effort to keep Davis from mounting a bid for statewide office next year. His name has been mentioned in some political circles as a potential GOP rival to Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker.

Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold cover Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow them @davemckinney and @tonyjarnold.