New long-awaited Illinois congressional map could give Democrats wider margins

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger
A new congressional map expected to be released would give Illinois Democrats a net gain of 3 seats. But what wasn’t clear was how two downstate Republican congressmen long viewed as top targets of Illinois Democrats -- U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Rodney Davis -- would fare. Jim Bourg/Pool via AP / Associated Press
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger
A new congressional map expected to be released would give Illinois Democrats a net gain of 3 seats. But what wasn’t clear was how two downstate Republican congressmen long viewed as top targets of Illinois Democrats -- U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Rodney Davis -- would fare. Jim Bourg/Pool via AP / Associated Press

New long-awaited Illinois congressional map could give Democrats wider margins

Illinois Democrats could see a net gain of three seats in the U.S. House under a new, long-awaited congressional map drawn by the party that is expected to be unveiled Friday in Springfield.

The draft that Democrats intend to present could factor into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s increasing longshot chances at retaining the House gavel in Washington and, at home, could amplify the party’s voice.

But what wasn’t clear late Thursday was how two downstate Republican congressmen long viewed as top targets of Illinois Democrats — U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Rodney Davis — would fare under the partisan-drawn maps.

Illinois’ 18-member congressional delegation, which includes 13 Democrats and five Republicans, will shrink by a seat because of population losses since the 2010 census.

But the new map could pave the way for Democrats to gain a seat and for Republicans to lose two seats, leaving a 14-3 Democratic majority over the GOP, according to a source familiar with the draft.

Those margins are consistent with the spreads predicted by a nationally recognized expert on redistricting in a mid-August report by WBEZ.

The source familiar with the Democratic map confirmed to WBEZ that the current configuration would provide for one Latino-majority congressional district and three Black-majority districts, the same number as now.

The new congressional maps represent the biggest political issue on the agenda as state lawmakers return to Springfield next Tuesday for what is expected to be a six-day fall session spread out over the next two weeks.

House and Senate redistricting committees have been taking testimony in a series of hearings that continues Friday, though it was not clear late Thursday whether the new congressional maps would be made public ahead of those next meetings.

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