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Suburban GOP districts in limbo

McHenry County will lose its veteran Republican representative in Congress and its freshman will be drawn into a district with another under proposed new boundaries.

The redistricting map, released Friday by Illinois Senate Democrats, is clearly aimed at eliminating suburban Republican gains made in November.

First-term Rep. Joe Walsh, R-McHenry, would live in the 14th Congressional District represented by fellow GOP freshman Randy Hultgren. The large district would include all of McHenry County except Algonquin Township and would include parts of all other collar counties, as well as DeKalb and Kendall counties.

Algonquin Township, which like western McHenry County is represented by longtime Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Egan, would be folded into the 6th District now represented by Republican Peter Roskam. That district snakes from southwest Lake and northwest Cook counties, through northeast Kane and through the center of DuPage County.

The map would put freshman GOP Rep. Robert Dold into the same district as veteran Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky. First term Republican Adam Kinzinger is drawn into the same district as veteran Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

As for Manzullo, the 16th District would form a huge loop around the Chicago area, covering 14 counties from Winnebago and Boone to Iroquois County on the Indiana border. He would lose Rockford and all counties west to the 17th District, now represented by freshman Republican Bobby Schilling.

All 11 GOP Congressmen from Illinois blasted the map in a news release Friday afternoon, but otherwise stayed tight-lipped. Illinois voters in November sent five freshman Republicans to Washington as part of the tea party surge that gave the GOP control of the U.S. House and more of a voice in the Senate.

“This proposal appears to be little more than an attempt to undo the results of the elections held just six months ago and we will take whatever steps necessary to achieve a map that more fairly represents the people of Illinois – they deserve nothing less,” they said in a statement.

Dold’s predecessor, Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, criticized the map along similar lines.

“The draft map is the unfortunate result of cynical partisans who want to override the decision of Illinois voters who elected fiscal conservatives to Congress,” Kirk said in a statement. “Its main purpose is to force [former House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi back into power.”

State lawmakers must redraw state and Congressional boundaries every 10 years after the U.S. Census. Illinois lost a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to faster-growing states, bringing its total to 18 for the next decade.

Because state Democrats control both the General Assembly and the governor’s office, they can control the remapping process with no Republican input, provided the maps are approved by the end of the spring session Tuesday. After that, bills require a three-fifths majority vote, meaning Republican cooperation would be needed.

However, Republicans hold control of the remapping process in other states, a fact not lost on Congressional Democrats after the November election. The GOP controls 26 state legislatures, compared to 16 for Democrats.

The new map would benefit state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, who has over the past few years mulled a Congressional run. Franks would not have to run against Manzullo, who since 2002 has beaten his Democratic challengers with at least 60 percent of the vote.

Franks said he would start examining his options after the end of a busy spring session.

“When we get done with the people’s work for the time being, I’ll start evaluating my options. There will be plenty of time for politics later,” Franks said.

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