WASHINGTON--Illinois Republicans are asking Gov. Quinn on Friday to veto a heavily gerrymandered congressional remap designed to favor Democrats, arguing the new districts likely violate the federal Voting Rights Act.
The letter to Quinn--I've obtained a copy--is dated today--June 3--and is signed by eight Illinois Republicans--the leadership of "The Committee for a Fair and Balanced Map--including former House Speaker Denny Hastert and former Labor Secretary Lynn Martin, also a former Rockford House member.
Martin is the chair of The Committee for a Fair and Balanced Map, a group incorporated last December with the Illinois Secretary of State, designed to bankroll and oversee legal challenges to the remap. (My column on fund-raising efforts by the Committee to battle the Democratic map is here.)
"This proposal fractures longstanding communities with gerrymandered boundaries for apparent partisan purposes," Quinn is told in the letter.
The group also tells Quinn "the proposal targets and divides existing Republican communities, combines other Republican communities together, and forces Republican incumbents to run against each other, all while strengthening the districts of Democratic incumbents. This is inconsistent with the will of the people, who just six months ago elected five new Illinois Republican Congressmen."
The current Illinois House delegation has 11 Republicans and 8 Democrats. Illinois will lose a seat starting in the 2012 elections because of population shifts in the 2010 Census. Among the arguments Quinn is urged to consider:
*The Democratic drawn map splits suburban "communities of interest"--areas with much in common--and scattered residents so that their "interests" would be diluted. Some residents in the west suburban current 13th congressional district--presently represented by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) would find themselves dispersed into six districts--three of them stretching into Democratic precincts in Chicago.
*Counties would be fractured in the Democratic map. DuPage would be in six Districtsl Kane in four; Will in six.
*The Democratic map shortchanges the Illinois Hispanic community by not reflecting Hispanic population growth and carving out a second Hispanic district.
The letter does not threaten a lawsuit; rather it asks Quinn to veto the map and redraw lines that "reflects our diverse, bipartisan state."
Quinn will be under pressure from local and national Democrats to sign the map without changes because Illinois presents some of the best prospects for the Democrats to pick up a chunk of the 24 seats needed to regain control of the House they lost in 2010.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chief Rep. Steve Israel told me at a reporter's breakfast on Wednesday that ""Illinois and particularly the suburbs of Chicago have always been a center of gravity in our path to retake the House majority." (My column on DCCC chief Israel talking about key Illinois is the House Democrats is here.)