The Democrat-controlled Illinois Senate approved new congressional districts Tuesday that try to erase Republican election gains that were part of a 2010 national surge that turned over control of the U.S. House to the GOP.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Democrat-controlled Illinois Senate approved new congressional districts Tuesday that try to erase Republican election gains that were part of a 2010 national surge that turned over control of the U.S. House to the GOP. The 34-25 vote sends the map to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. "This congressional map is a national embarrassment," said Republican state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine, calling it a "power grab" and foreshadowing a likely legal challenge by saying that "a federal judge will weigh in on this." Illinois had to adopt a congressional map with 18, instead of 19, U.S. House seats because the latest census showed slowing population growth in the state. Democrats are in charge of the once-a-decade redistricting process because they control the state Legislature and governor’s office. Lawmakers rushed to approve the map before Tuesday’s midnight deadline when new rules kick in and give the Republican minority a say in what passes and what doesn’t. The map lumps at least four freshman Republicans and one veteran into districts where they would have to run against other incumbents. The GOP also has complained the map has only one majority Latino district despite robust growth in the state’s Latino population. The number of people who identified themselves as Hispanic grew at a rate of 32.5 percent in the latest census. Not drawing enough majority minority districts or the right ones is one way to challenge a redistricting map in court, said Deanna Mool, an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, who teaches election law. "That’s clearly the best way to get a map overturned," Mool said. Democratic Sen. Martin Sandoval of Chicago blasted his Republican colleagues for professing what he said was a sudden interest in the Latino community. "I think they woke up just the other night realizing that the Latino community is in their districts," Sandoval said. Even before the congressional map was finalized, one Democrat who lost his U.S. House seat to a Republican last year threw his name into the mix for the 2012 election. Former Congressman Bill Foster announced Tuesday he would run for re-election in a new congressional district in the Chicago suburbs. Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.