SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Senate Republicans are demanding Gov. JB Pritzker stay true to his promise to support an independent redistricting process. Pritzker told reporters Tuesday that he will veto an unfair map. However, he explained it’s too late to have a constitutional amendment for an independent redistricting commission. Now, Democrats are pushing forward with their
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Senate Republicans are demanding Gov. JB Pritzker stay true to his promise to support an independent redistricting process.
Pritzker told reporters Tuesday that he will veto an unfair map. However, he explained it’s too late to have a constitutional amendment for an independent redistricting commission. Now, Democrats are pushing forward with their map. Republicans accuse Pritzker of “flip-flopping” on his campaign promise and want him to testify before a redistricting committee to explain his decision.
In 2018, Pritzker told political blogger Rich Miller that Illinois should amend the constitution to create an independent commission to draw legislative maps. Then-candidate Pritzker also urged Democrats and Republicans to agree to an independent mapping commission.
Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) said public polls show more than 75% of Illinois voters support an independent process.
“As a politician, I understand that 75% support for anything is an overwhelming majority of the public,” McConchie said. “We think that the majority deserves to hear testimony from the governor’s office on a topic that’s going to effect our elections for the next decade.”
McConchie said if Pritzker still refuses to testify, he feels the people of Illinois deserve to know why he changed his promise.
“Deliver a big win to voters”
Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) says this could be one of the most significant good government reforms that any state could enact. He noted it would be critical for Illinois, a state filled with a history of gerrymandering and corruption.
“It’s an opportunity to deliver a big win to voters who are asking for their government to represent them over all of the other special interests that are out there,” Barickman explained.
Republicans also stressed Illinois doesn’t need maps ready for a June 30 deadline. The state constitution’s deadline for redistricting is October 5.
The Democratic leaders of the Senate Redistricting Committee quickly responded to the Republican press conference Wednesday. Senators Omar Aquino and Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) said Republicans can’t hide their true intentions.
“They want to cut the public out of the redistricting process entirely,” stated Aquino and Sims. “By calling on mapmaking to be put off until August or possibly September, they are advocating for control of this process to be turned over to a panel of political appointees who answer to powerbrokers, not the people of Illinois. That’s not reform, that’s failure.”
The Democrats also said if the U.S. Census Bureau released the new data by mid-August, mapmaking would already move over to a commission with partisan appointments required under the constitution. A spokesperson noted the first deadline for that partisan commission to submit a map is August 10. They also said that would be much earlier than the anticipated date for the census data.
Still hoping for success with Senate proposal
Still, Republicans hope Democratic leaders will give their independent redistricting proposal a chance. It currently has no Democratic support, even though Republicans mirrored language from previous proposals sponsored by Democrats.
“Governor Pritzker is the one person who can make this happen in this state,” Barickman added. “He’s no longer a candidate for office. Rather, he’s the governor and his voice matters in this process.”
Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) said Pritzker’s refusal to allow an independent process shows he wants to keep the status quo of one-party rule. She stressed that it would allow Democrats to raise taxes, close schools, and form laws under their power.
“He can hide behind non-answers and excuses,” Bryant added. “He can blame Donald Trump, he can blame COVID, he can blame equity. But, the people of Illinois are smarter than he gives them credit for.”
Pritzker called out Republicans Tuesday for not participating in the current redistricting process.
“I hope that Republicans will choose to work with Democrats on the map,” Pritzker said. “Right now, it looks like they’re just saying ‘no.’ They’re not really engaging and all they’re doing is fighting in these redistricting hearings.”