109th Lineup: 10 D, 9 R
108th Lineup: 10 R, 9 D
District Map: Click here
Illinois lost one of its 20 House seats in the 2000 Census, and control of redistricting was split between the Democratic state House and the then-Republican state Senate and governor. In similar circumstances, the 1980s and 1990s redistricting plans had been drawn by courts, with results that were politically unpredictable and unpalatable to incumbents: in 1992, four incumbents lost their primaries. Things worked differently in 2001. Speaker Dennis Hastert and 3d District Democrat William Lipinski started negotiating early, to produce an incumbent-protection plan that would pass both houses of the legislature. Before the Census data came in, it was assumed that the 5th District would be eliminated, since Democratic incumbent Rod Blagojevich had announced that he was running for governor. But the Census figures showed that the 5th District and adjacent districts in Chicago, swelled with new immigrants, had gained population, while rural southern Illinois had lost population. Mayor Richard M. Daley let it be known that he would not like to see Chicago lose a seat.
So Hastert and Lipinski concocted a new plan taking a district away from southern Illinois. The victim was 19th District Democratic Congressman David Phelps, a former professional gospel singer with little seniority and a somewhat conservative voting record. His hometown was connected by a narrow band of land on the eastern edge of the state with the central Illinois 15th District held by Republican Tim Johnson. Phelps had no clout in the legislature, and the Hastert-Lipinski plan became law in May 2001. Phelps sued unsuccessfully and then ran, also unsuccessfully, against Republican incumbent John Shimkus in the new 19th District. Why were Lipinski, Daley and Speaker Michael Madigan willing to sacrifice a fellow Democrat and lose their party's 10-10 parity in the House delegation? Because the low-seniority Phelps could do little for them in the House, while Hastert had been generous in using his powers as Speaker to aid Daley, Lipinski and other Chicago Democrats on Chicago issues and projects. Maintaining a Republican majority that would keep Hastert in the speakership was in the interests of Chicago Democrats.
The resulting map is a nightmare for those who believe redistricting plans should have compact and competitive districts. Aside from Phelps and perhaps Shimkus, every other incumbent was strengthened. And the resulting district lines are grotesque. The 17th District, long confined to west central Illinois, now has a narrow finger extending to downtown Springfield and Decatur. The 15th District in central Illinois has a long narrow tentacle along the eastern border of the state, then snakes south to the Kentucky border. Hastert's 14th District extends from the Chicago suburbs to a point six miles from the Iowa border. Incumbents were accommodated in the most minute fashion. A small portion of Livingston County was added to Jerry Weller's 11th District so his parents could vote for him. Complicated boundaries were drawn to Philip Crane's 8th District so that his Palatine office would still be in his district (he lost anyway in 2004). Jesse Jackson Jr.'s 2d District was extended southward to be nearer to Peotone, the site for the proposed third Chicago airport that he has been tirelessly promoting. Lipinski lost a heavily black ward in Chicago and majority-Hispanic Cicero and in return got the white Bridgeport neighborhood that is the homeland of the Daleys and some heavily white suburbs (he engineered the nomination of his son to succeed him in 2004).
In 2005, Congressman Rahm Emanuel, the newly-installed chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, sought to revisit the issue of the state's congressional map; the idea was to draw a new map to retaliate for post-2002 Republican redistricting efforts in Colorado, Georgia and Texas. But the legislature didn't seem to have much interest in drawing new lines and neither did a majority of the Democratic congressional delegation. In March, the idea was shelved.