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Here's how the Peoria area is divvied up on the new Democrat-drawn congressional maps

Screenshot 2021-10-15 151414.jpg
Google Maps
Screengrab of the proposed congressional district lines in the Peoria area following the 2020 Census.

The Democrats who control the Illinois General Assembly drew a map giving them a shot at an ostensible 14-3 advantage in the state's delegation to Washington.

This comes as the party attempts to guard its razor-thin majorities in the nation's capitol. District lines are redrawn every 10 years, following the decennial census.

A congressional map draft released Friday lays out the lines proposed by Democrats, who hold supermajorities in both the state House and Senate.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, would live within the new 16th Congressional District that runs along the state's western border, from just outside the Quad Cities' outskirts down to just outside Alton.

The district also stretches across the state to east of Champaign, snaking around the new 17th, 13th, and 15th districts to also incorporate more conservative areas of the Peoria metro area and the hometown of U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, R-Oakland.

That potentially places the two Republicans into a GOP primary contest in 2022.

In a statement, LaHood said Illinoisans are tired of politicians picking their voters.

"The proposed maps are a slap in the face to good governance everywhere. Illinois voters deserve much better than this non-transparent, corrupt process," he said.

However, Robin Johnson, a political science professor at Monmouth College, said that's how the system currently works.

"To the winner goes the spoils, and in Illinois that means they get to draw the map, the party in control," Johnson said. "The Democrats, of course, have control of both houses of the legislature with veto-proof majorities. They also have control of the governor's office."

The new 17th Congressional District would include the vast majority of the city of Peoria proper, stretching east to incorporate most of Bloomington-Normal, and twisting northwest through Galesburg and the Quad Cities up to Rockford and the Wisconsin border.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, isn't running for re-election. Democrat Jonathan Logemann, a Rockford alderman, is running for the seat. So is Esther Joy King, the Quad Cities Republican who lost to Bustos in 2020 by a narrower-than-expected margin.

"These new maps motivate me more than ever to continue the mission, run hard, and end the corruption and one-party rule plaguing Springfield and Washington, D.C.," said King in a tweet. "I look forward to winning and changing the culture of politics."

The new 15th Congressional District incorporates Taylorville, where incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis lives. The district runs from Freeport in northern Illinois to Effingham in the south, but also would include a sliver of Peoria County, namely Princeville and Monica.

The sliver of Stark County currently represented by 16th District U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, would become part of the new 15th, as well. Kinzinger is now drawn into the 3rd Congressional District with U.S. Rep. Marie Newman, a Chicago-area Democrat.

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project gave the Democrat-proposed map a "F" letter grade, with "Fs" in geography and partisan fairness, and a "C" in competitiveness.

Dave Wasserman, the U.S. House editor of the Cook Political Report, said he believes the 3rd, 14th, and 17th districts are all potentially flippable for Republicans. In a tweet, he said the 14D-3R split could end up as a 10D-7R reality "if things go really awry."

Over the long term, Johnson said partisan gerrymandering by both Democrats and Republicans across the country continues to fuel the ideological divide.

"It's approaching dangerous levels with what's been going on. I understand the Democrats in Illinois will be saying 'well, you know, Republicans are doing this elsewhere now.' Maybe we do need a national solution to this, to try to get more independent-type mapmaking."

Previous attempts to introduce an independent redistricting commission via amendment to the state constitution were blocked by the courts.

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