Madigan Vs. The Maps

Apr 24, 2014
Speaker Michael Madigan
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

House Speaker Michael Madigan is harshly criticizing of a plan that would strip him of control over how Illinois draws its legislative maps. The group backing the change has its own harsh words for Madigan.

How legislative districts are drawn sounds wonky. And it is. But it's also really important as boundaries of a district can help determine which party will win a seat.

Because they control the General Assembly and governor's office, Democrats have largely gotten to control the map-making process in Illinois, including the most recent map, drawn in 2011.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In a few weeks, the U.S. Census Bureau is scheduled to deliver to Illinois and our sister states detailed demographic breakdowns on the populace’s age, gender, race and other characteristics, virtually on a block-by-block basis.

The fruits of last year’s federal census, the vast amount of information will become the raw material for the decade’s most intensely political endeavor, drawing new district maps for the Illinois General Assembly and the state’s congressional delegation.

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Lost? Can't seem to find your way? 

I know I often can't. The genetic strand that governs my sense of direction must be frayed. It seems I'm always heading right when I should go left. I've turned more U's than Vanna White. 

That's why I've always been fascinated by maps. They're often the only way I can navigate from place to place. I devour 'em like cheap novels. 

And I recently learned that few places have more maps than the Illinois State Library. 

Jeff Schoenberg is in the catbird seat. 

His new Senate district just to the north of Chicago is largely Democratic, and home to thousands of Jews. Schoenberg is a Democrat; he’s also Jewish. And he does especially well with these constituencies. 

Next month, voters in two Saline County townships will discover just how much the state’s political landscape has changed. After decades of choosing among familiar home-grown pols, Democrat Glenn Poshard, say, or Democrat David Phelps, these southern Illinoisans are about to get to know Tim Johnson, a Republican from faraway Urbana who wants to represent them in the nation’s capital.

Voters in the central Illinois city of Decatur will see new names on the ballot for U.S. House, too. As will voters in Chicago’s Hispanic neighborhoods. 

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” 

Benjamin Franklin, 1789

Were Old Ben around today, he might be tempted to amend his well-known maxim to add a third category: a sure General Assembly seat for whoever wins the primary in most of the state’s new legislative districts.