It’s been clear from the start of the process to redraw U.S. congressional district boundaries that Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly saw first-term Congresswoman Marie Newman (D-3rd) as something of a sacrificial lamb.
In all four proposals rolled out by Democrats who control the remapping process, the progressive Newman – who took down conservative Democrat Dan Lipinski in the 2020 primary, ending a 38-year dynasty in the 3rd District — was repeatedly drawn into districts where she would be forced into tough competitions with opponents from either party.
But the final proposal, passed by both the Illinois Senate and House during the early morning hours of Oct. 29, added insult to injury. Newman lives within what will be the new 4th District, a majority Hispanic district now represented by another progressive, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who sits on the House Transportation Committee with Newman.
“The most recently proposed map is a clear attempt to appease one person and a small handful of affluent insiders at the expense of workers and working families on Chicago’s Southwest Side and suburbs,” Newman said in a statement released prior to the final vote to approve the map, which will go to Gov. J.B Pritzker, who is expected to sign it.
The “one person” referenced by Newman is Congressman Sean Casten, who presently represents the 6th District. Two earlier versions of the map drew Newman into the 6th District, where she would’ve posed a threat to the more moderate Casten, who first won election in 2018.
Casten in the final map approved by the state legislature did not have an obvious Democratic challenger. But, that changed very quickly.
Just hours after the Senate voted 41-18 and the House voted 71-43 to approve the map, Newman announced she would run for re-election in the new 6th District in 2022.
Newman presently lives in and represents the 3rd District, which includes Brookfield south of Southview Avenue and the southern tip of Riverside.
Although Newman would not be a resident of the new 6th District, the U.S. Constitution does not require that representatives in Congress live in a specific district. They merely need to live in the same state.
In a press release issued on the morning of Oct. 29, Newman noted that her current constituents make up 40 percent of the new 6th District.
“Last year, we made history by bringing together a coalition of neighbors, working families, volunteers, and voters from every corner of our communities to stand up against decades-old Machine politics, billionaires, and deep-pocketed special interests — and, we are doing it again,” Newman said in the press release. “I am proud to announce that I am once again running to represent the residents of Chicago’s Southwest Side and our neighbors in the surrounding west and southwest suburbs. The lion’s share of this new district is made up of the communities and residents I represent today and I look forward to continuing to serve them in Congress.”
The new 6th District is drawn in a way that would benefit a moderate like Casten. It includes the Garfield Ridge and the Mount Greenwood neighborhoods of Chicago; large areas of DuPage County, including Westmont, Downers Grove, Lombard, Lisle and Villa Park; and Cook County suburbs including Western Springs, Burr Ridge, Orland Park, Palos Hills, Tinley Park and Oak Lawn.
The new 6th District does not include any of the Landmark’s coverage area. The new 6th District might also draw the interest of Lipinski, who lives in the boundaries of the newly drawn district and had served eight terms in Congress before being ousted by Newman last year.
Nearly all Landmark area drawn into 4th District
The new map will also make it a lot easier for voters in Riverside, Brookfield and North Riverside to determine who represents them in Congress.
For years, the Landmark’s coverage area has been sliced and diced by the Illinois General Assembly when it came to congressional districts. The area for the last decade has been divided among three congressional districts where portions of each community were represented by different U.S. representatives.
The new map radically simplifies the local equation, with all of Riverside and Brookfield now drawn into the 4th District. The Riverside Township portion of North Riverside (everything east of 9th Avenue) is also in the 4th District.
The Proviso Township portion of North Riverside (everything west of 9th Avenue) remains part of the 7th District, which has been represented by Congressman Danny Davis since 1996. Davis’ district also includes the National Guard Armory and the strip mall at First Avenue and Cermak Road in North Riverside.
The commercial area in North Riverside north of Cermak Road between Harlem Avenue and the east edge of Woodlawn Cemetery is part of the 4th District. There are no residences in North Riverside north of Cermak Road.