Aug 4, 2021

What Nancy Pelosi wants, Nancy Pelosi gets-at least until the 2022 mid-term elections. With a tenuous 220-212 Democratic majority (and three vacancies being two Democrats and one Republican), it is a veritable certainty that Republicans will flip at least 5 Democratic House seats, with a net gain giving them 218 seats, likely up to 230 or more, and a 2023 majority.

Pelosi will then most likely be the ex-speaker.

Current expectations are that the Republicans will gain 20 to 40 House seats, as is historically common for the out-party in mid-term elections, and which occurred in 1922, 1930, 1938, 1946, 1958, 1974, 1994, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018. Those were "wave" elections in which the in-party incumbents lost 5 percent of their base, and challengers grew their base by 5 percent or more.

According to non-partisan Washington political prognosticators, the early 2022 outlook has 36 Democratic seats rated as vulnerable, compared to 15 Republicans. Unlike in 2018 and 2020, where Republicans had headwinds, it will be the Democrats in 2022 and 2024. Despite the Trump drag, Republicans gained a net of 12 seats in 2020.

But Pelosi has a counter-attack game plan. She will raise egregious amounts of money ($32million in 2021's 1st quarter), and use the 2021 remap process to exterminate 10-12 Republican incumbents by obliterating their districts or merging them into Democratic-majority districts. The Democrats' problem is that Republicans control the governorship and both legislative chambers in 20 states with 188 Republican congressmen. That's just 20 shy of a majority.

In Illinois the Pelosi goal is to get rid of two. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), chaired by New York's Sean Maloney, is working with Springfield Democrats to use the late August final census tally to transform the current 13D-5R congressional delegation into 14D-3R. A congressional remap is expected by December, will be passed by the Democratic legislature and will be a masterpiece of creative cartography.

Illinois loses one seat, and it might be Adam Kinzinger's (R) 16th District, which wraps around the Chicago metro area from Iroquois County on the Indiana border to Boone and Winnebago counties on the Wisconsin border. Kinzinger resides in Chanahnon in Grundy County. Kinzinger has been a consistent critic of ex-president Trump, to the point where he has become a party pariah. He and Lynn Cheney (another pariah) were named to the Jan. 6 commission investigating the capitol riots by Pelosi, and Kinzinger distinguished himself by weeping.

But as Roman Pucinski told me long ago, "God never closes a door without opening a window." Kinzinger's "window" is the current 17th District, represented by the retiring Cheri Boustos (D).
The district runs from Peoria west through Macomb to the Mississippi River, and north through Galesburg and Rock Island to Galena, then east to Rockford. The district was created in 2011 to elect a Democrat. Not anymore. Trump almost won it in 2020.

Boustos undistinguished herself as Pelosi's handpicked chair of the DCCC for the 2020 cycle, where the speaker famously proclaimed a 20-30-seat House gain amid a Biden landslide.

Instead, Democrats lost a net of 12 seats. And Boustos, while traveling around the country, neglected her constituency. She won 156,011-143,868 (or 52.1 percent) against a hard-right Trumpster woman. Kinzinger could run there, although a primary would be chancy. Trump would personally be all over the district.

The other target is Rodney Lee Davis (R-13), of Taylorville, who won 181,373-151,648(54.5 percent) in 2020. The 13th runs from Bloomington to Champaign to Decatur to the East St. Louis suburbs. It will be hard to find more Democrats to pack into it. Davis beat well-financed Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (D) in 2018 and 2020. Davis is safe.

According to Springfield sources, one map under consideration puts Chicago's far Northwest Side 41st Ward and Norwood Park Township (Norridge and Harwood Heights), which is surrounded by the 41st Ward, into the DuPage County-dominated 6th District, appending it to such areas as Bensenville, Wood Dale, Addison, Carol Stream, Itasca, Glendale Heights, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn and Lombard.

The incumbent is Sean Casten (D-6), elected in 2018, defeating Republican incumbent Peter Roskam 169,001-146,445, getting53.6 percent. Casten resides in Downers Grove and won 213,777-183,891,with 52.6 percent in 2020 over Jeanne Ives. Casten's district does not encompass southern DuPage (Naperville, Lisle, Warrenville) but runs north along I-25 through Carpentersville to Crystal Lake and Wauconda in McHenry County. This was supposed to be a Republican district, and was until 2018.

The Democrats' alternative Springfield plan is to either tack McHenry onto Raja Krishnamoorthi's (D) 8th District, which is northwest Cook County (Schaumburg, Streamwood, Elgin). Krishnamoorthi has $8,427,847 on-hand, is unbeatable because of his base, and is running for U.S. senator in 2026. Adding Republican votes won't hurt him. Or append it onto Jan Schakowsky's (D) 9th District, which runs from Evanston west through Des Plaines and into liberal Buffalo Grove.

So Casten needs more eastern territory, like a piece of Chicago. Confirming this possibility, the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee (RCCC) has already reached out to 41st Ward committeewoman Ammie Kessem, a Chicago cop, as a possible 2022 6th District candidate. In 2020 Casten raised $5.6 million, so the RCCC will have to foot the 2022 bill.

Such a district seems implausible but is doable.

Incumbent Mike Quigley's (D) 5th District runs from Lincoln Park up the Lakefront to Uptown, east of Lincoln Ave., then extends west between Touhy and Irving Park through the 47th, 40th, 39th, 41st and 38th wards, then into the west suburbs of Schiller Park, Franklin Park, River Grove and Northlake, then crosses Mannheim Road and I-294 into DuPage County, then south through Elmhurst Oakbrook and Hinsdale, the southern terminus being 55th Street. That's definitely not contiguous.

Quigley won with 70.8percent in 2020. He has never had competitive election since he won Rahm Emanuel's seat in 2009. The problem is that removing 60-70,000 voters to append to Casten's district means he has to add a like number elsewhere, either from Lincoln Park north to Uptown, Edgewater and Rogers Park from Schakowsky's district or extending farther into south DuPage, taking in Clarendon Hills, Westmont and part of Downers Grove from Casten's district.

PELOSI'S LEGACY: The speaker, now age 81, has been Democratic leader since 2003. She was speaker 2007-10 and 2019-present. She promised in 2018 to serve only two terms and be a "bridge to the next generation of (House) leaders." Biden has said the same. But now she's prevaricating, claiming that the Biden-Harris agenda makes her indispensable.

A lot of younger Democrats, including those in the democratic socialist "Squad" want the old leadership, all now octogenarians, to move on. Majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is age 82 and majority whip James Clyburn (D-SC) is 81. Neither will be speaker (or minority leader) if Pelosi quits or loses her majority. If the latter happens, Pelosi will be discarded and blamed for the debacle.

Pelosi wants to leave a legacy, and that has two components: First, that she (meaning the House) pass the $2.2 trillion COVID relief bill, and now the $1.8 trillion infrastructure bill and, through reconciliation, the $3 trillion social infrastructure bill.

She has said that the House will approve neither unless the Senate passes both. If she fails, the legacy evaporates. And second, Democrats must retain the House. If they don't then the "We Need Nancy" narrative also evaporates and she goes out a loser.

Pelosi's heir apparent is Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), a Brooklyn congressman first elected in 2012 and the fifth-ranked Democrat in leadership. 104 of the 220 Democrats, or 47.2 percent, are women, so the desire for another female speaker is strong.

Women can get most of the other leadership spots.
Other credible contenders would be three Californians: Karen Bass, age 67, Adam Schiff, from Burbank, age 61, and Pete Aguilar, age 52.

All are insiders with ties to Pelosi.

Send an e-mail to Russ Stewart at or visit his Web site at www.russsewart. com.