October 27, 2021

Political power is not a concept but a reality. It is a means to an end, which is control and aggrandizement. It is taking what you or your side wants, plain and simple.

It's happening in Illinois' current 13D-5R U.S. House delegation, which is being degraded from 18 to 17 due to population loss, according to the 2020 census. And IL legislative Democrats, who control the 2021 congressional remap process, have produced a map that could degrade Republicans to just two seats, or a 15D-2R delegation.

The Democrats' U.S. House majority is 221D-211R, with three vacancies, and the Senate is 50-50. There is no doubt that Republicans will gain 25-30 House seats in 2022, and likely three senators.

The current Biden-Pelosi priority is to pass the Build-Back-Better and social infrastructure bills. That will not happen if five representatives (D) or one senator (D) balk.

Optimistic, or maybe just delusional, national Democrats desperately want that 15D-2R Illinois delegation in 2023. That's two more Democrats and three less Republicans.

It probably won't matter. What Hispanics want is a second minority-influenced district. And what state senator Omar Aquino (D-2) wants is that congressional seat.

Those concepts can become a reality if the Democrats' map, drawn and approved by Aquino's committee, gets passed by the Democratic legislature, which is 41D-18R (Senate) and 73D-45R (House), with a Democratic governor. It could happen before Oct. 29, when the veto session ends, or could be passed later by extending the veto session.

The map is a masterpiece of elongation, enhancement and extermination. Every Chicago based Democrat was given more suburban territory, but it doesn't matter. The key for incumbents like Jan Schakowsky (D-9), Mike Quigley (D-5), Chuy Garcia (D-4), Danny Davis (D-7), Bobby Rush (D-1) and Robin Kelly (D-2) is to retain enough of a Chicago base to win a Democratic primary.

Schakowsky's north Lakefront/ Evanston district used to stretch to Des Plaines, but now goes to Algonquin in McHenry County. Quigley lost his strip down to Hinsdale, which now he goes to Arlington Heights. Kelly's district ran from Hyde Park to Kankakee and now extends to Danville. Davis's West Side district takes in the Loop, booming near West Loop and Oak Park, and is 41 percent African-American. Rush's South Loop to Peotone district moved further into farmland.

Each district has a population of 753,000 and about 500,000 registered voters. Democratic primary turnout is 30-35 percent of the registered voters, so 20 percent (70,000 votes) is enough to keep the seat. The 2022 primary is June 28, and filing begins Dec. 28, so a new map must be in place by December.

Not only did IL Republicans get whacked, with four incumbents being remapped into two mega-Republican districts, and the fifth having his district altered significantly, but one of two incumbent Democrats, either Sean Casten (D-6) or Marie Newman (D-3), will also go down. Their White majority suburban districts have been deconstructed, both put in the new 6th District, and all Latino voters stripped and packed into the 3rd District.

There are two types of remaps: Aggressive or preventative. The former, like in IL, aims for immediate or short-term benefits, which involves dilution. That means spreading Republicans into a bunch of districts but keeping the Democrats' majority above 55 percent. The remap lasts for a decade, until the next census. But there could be a "wave" election during that decade, as in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018, putting those 55 percent districts in-play.

The obverse is preventative, which Democrats did in the 2011 remap. They packed as many Republicans as possible into as few districts as possible. Republicans had a 11R-8D majority after 2010 and it flipped to 13D-5R in 2012. Republicans in Texas (with a 23R-13D) switched from aggressive to preventative this round. In the past they diluted, but now they're packing. The state picks up two seats, so they conceded Democrats 13, shored up all marginal Republicans to 55 percent-plus, and grabbed the new seats, giving them a decade-long 25R-13D, which may grow to 27R-11D if the two border Tex-Mex districts flip.

3RD DISTRICT: The state's population is now 20 percent Hispanic and 16 percent African-American, but Blacks hold three seats (Davis, Rush, Kelly) and Hispanics just one (Garcia). The current 4th District wraps around Chicago and suburban Cook County like a horseshoe, taking in the North Side Puerto Rican wards from Logan Square west through the 30th, 31st, 35th and 36th wards to Mannheim Road, then south through Melrose Park, Cicero and Berwyn, the back east through the Mexican-American wards to Pilsen and Bridgeport.

The Hispanic demographic has grown beyond those borders, with large concentrations around Midway Airport, Franklin Park and in northeast DuPage County (Addison, Bensenville and Wood Dale). The new 3rd District takes in the entire north part of the horseshoe plus the DuPage precincts and runs south to take in parts of South Side Hispanic wards. According to an analysis done by consultant Frank Calabrese, the new 3rd contains 41 percent of Garcia's old district, 24 percent of Quigley's, 16 percent of Casten's and 15 percent of Raja Krishnamoorthi's. It has a Latino influence voter demographic of 40 percent, which is enough to nominate a Hispanic in a Democratic primary.

But there won't be just one Hispanic candidate. The floodgates opened the minute the map was leaked. Aquino lives in the 36th Ward and he is likely running, as will likely be aldermen Gilbert Villegas (36th) and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), state representative Delia Ramirez (D-4), 2019 30th Ward alderman loser Jessica Gutierrez, daughter of former 26-year congressman Luis Gutierrez (whose seat Garcia won in 2018), and Sol Flores, who lost to Garcia in 2018.

Money, ideological positioning, geography and gender will matter. Ramirez-Rosa, member of the Democratic Socialists of America, will be the Leftist candidate. Villegas is likely angling to run for Chicago mayor in 2023, and a 2022 congressional bid cuts two ways: it hikes his name recognition, but a loss would also demolish his credibility. A non-Hispanic candidate in a crowded field could win. Give an early edge to Gutierrez.

6TH DISTRICT: Newman challenged incumbent Dan Lipinski (D-5) twice, getting 48.9 percent in 2018 and 47.3 percent in 2020. She was elected with 56 percent in a district that ran from Bridgeport to near Joliet. Casten won his 2018 primary over three women getting 29.5 percent, and then beat Peter Roskam (R) 169,001-146,445, with 53.6 percent. He got 53 percent in 2020.

Geography and money matter. The new 6th District contains 39 percent of Newman's current district, 25 percent of Casten's and 16 percent of Rush's, which are in Will County. It runs from Mt. Greenwood in the 19th Ward to Wheaton and includes Orland Park, Tinley Park Downers Grove and Lombard. Trump lost the district 56-44 in 2020. Casten spent $5,313,570 in 2020 and has $346,138 on-hand. Newman spent $2,802,093 and has $102,841 on-hand. Both have high name ID in their respective districts. Both are Pelosi loyalists, but Casten is the less left-leaning so early edge to Casten.

Which begs this question: Why throw either Casten or Newman under the bus? Both were expendable. Identity politics and Aquino's ambition prevailed.

STATE DISTRICTS: There are Trump implications at play. Incumbent Adam Kinzinger (R-16) voted to impeach Trump and was named to the Jan. 6 Commission. Democrats put his Chanahon home into Darin LaHood's (R-18) Peoria-Decatur-Springfield district, with LaHood representing over 60 percent of the new district. Edge to LaHood.

Likewise for the new 15th, which lumped together incumbents Mary Miller (R-15) and Mike Bost (R-12) in a district that covers the south third of the state. Miller won with 73 percent and is avidly pro-Trump. Bost won with 60 percent in 2020. Democrats split her southeast district so the new turf is two-thirds Bost's. Bost has greater name ID and money, but Trump's expected endorsement of Miller will be critical. Edge to Miller.

The new map appended the least Republican areas of the 15th to Rodney Davis's (R-13) district and slightly bolstered the Democratic vote in Lauren Underwood's 14th District, which runs from west of Joliet to Antioch at the Wisconsin border. She got 51 percent in 2020. The open 17th, where Cheri Bustos got 52 percent in 2020, absorbed a lot of Kinzinger's district. He could run there instead of against LaHood.

2022 will be a nationalized election, a referendum on Biden, much as 2018 was on Trump and 2010 was on Obama.

Democrats have crafted enough 60-65-plus percent Democratic IL CDs to withstand anti-Biden blowback.

My prediction: The new delegation will be 11D-6R and Aquino won't be going to Washington.