It’s all over but the shouting. No problem.
It’s all over but the litigating. Big problem.
Supermajority Democrats in Springfield passed two sets of state House and Senate maps during the May-August period, both of which give Republicans the shaft and neither of which have yet passed legal muster.
That’s a problem for politicians of both parties all over the state who are making plans to run in the new House and Senate districts in 2022 but think it would be helpful to know exactly where those new districts will be.
But they’ll just have to be patient, because a three-judge federal panel reviewing lawsuits challenging the legal adequacy of the maps will take its time before resolving it.
The legislative maps, which are drawn every 10 years following the U.S. Census, please Democratic legislative leaders but not Republicans or Black and Hispanic groups traditionally loyal to Democrats.
All three objectors have charged that Democratic House Speaker Chris Welch and Senate President Don Harmon drew new legislative maps that illegally marginalize them.
Part of this legal scrum is traditional politics — Democrats versus Republicans. But the other part is a new feature of Illinois politics — ever-increasing Hispanics vying for power against the traditional Black minority.
It hardly seems possible that one or the other could win without their gains coming at the other’s expense.
As for Republicans, as a minority party, they’re generally considered fair game by a majority trying to minimize the influence of the political opposition. But in the General Assembly, the GOP already has been gerrymandered into a superminority, raising the issue of how much further they can or should be marginalized.
Part of this debate, however, is the traditional power struggle featuring Black politicians against White ones.
Valerie Leonard, a spokeswoman for African Americans for Equitable Redistricting, has charged that Democratic power brokers ignored data that showed “it was possible to preserve current Black districts and create additional majority-Black districts.”
“At the end of the day, it was more important for the Democrats to protect their veto-proof majority and expand it for years to come,” she said.
Leonard said a review of the maps showed Democrats reduced the number of majority-Black districts from 12 in the House and six in the Senate to eight in the House and four in the Senate.
Leonard’s group has not joined the lawsuit filed by Republicans and the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund. But it has filed a petition with the court urging that its concerns be considered.
Leonard complained that, as a result, more White Democrats will be elected at the expense of Black Democrats.
She charged that Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s support of both sets of maps makes a joke of his claim to support a diverse legislature.
“The governor touts this redistricting plan as a reflection of the state’s diversity. From where I’m sitting, it looks like a model of how to use the Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011 to subvert the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 to effectively water down Black voting power,” she said.
Those are strong words aimed by one Democrat at other Democrats. But redistricting brings out the worst in all politicians, regardless of their color or party.
Jim Dey, a member of The News-Gazette staff, can be reached at email@example.com or 217-393-8251.