Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Recharting the Remap Referendum

As sure as 2014 comes after 2013, every person in Lake County will be writing down their New Year's resolutions. And if every person in Lake County is anything like your LakeCountyEye, they are resolving to enact an Illinois Constitutional Amendment to change how legislative maps get re-drawn every 10 years.

According to a Daily Herald editorial that your LakeCountyEye just read ...
The voters in the area around Buffalo Grove always seemed to think Sidney Mathias was a likable guy and a responsive legislator. So every two years, they elected him by fairly comfortable margins to the Illinois House. Mathias had a built-in advantage in those races. He once had been village president of Buffalo Grove, and most of the community provided the core of the old square-shaped 53rd House District he represented. Then last year, Mathias got trounced.
A Remap Referendum: It's time to tell party bosses, 'Enough'
Sad but true: former State Representative Sid Mathias was an election-day casualty of the redistricting process. After his hand-drawn legislative district was re-drawn again in 2010, Mathias was handed his lunch at the voting booths in 2012.  And if someone who has a train station named after him ...
cannot win a election on home turf, then either they are just totally sleepwalkin' it or the system is seriously broken.

Which is why your LakeCountyEye is fightin' mad, just like the Daily Herald. Mad enough, in fact, that your LakeCountyEye sat down and wrote an opinion-laden editorial. Just like the Daily Herald:
The voters in the area around Wauconda & Island Lake seemed to think Joe Walsh was a charismatic guy and a promising legislator. So for two years, they elected him -- against nearly impossible odds -- to the US House of Representatives.

Walsh had a built-in advantage in that race. He loudly professed the Tea-Party gospel to the low-information voters of Lake and McHenry Counties, and most of that community provided the core of the old tea-cozy-shaped 8th Congressional District he would represent.

Then last year, Walsh got trounced.

Had there been a scandal? Had the voters tired of him? Had he suddenly become unlikable and unresponsive?

None of the above.

When Congressional districts were redrawn after the 2010 census, the Eighth District was sent through a cartographic wood chipper and Walsh, a Republican, was given the bum's rush into a flounder-shaped new district that pitched down to Villa Park & Lombard and then yawed in a narrow band all the way up the tollway into Schaumburg and to the edge of Wheeling. That geography provided welcome turf for a popular Democrat, Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, and she used it to full advantage.

You might say ol' Joe never knew what hit him, except he knew it full well: the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Your LakeCountyEye's point here isn't to defend or lionize Walsh. For these purposes, he's simply an example, and there are many, many others.

But the reality is, Walsh wasn't turned out by the voters. The reality is, under the legislative map-drawing process that Illinois now follows, the voters have very little say. The machine politicians have taken it out of the voters' hands.

Republicans knew the day after the 2010 election put Democrats firmly in charge of the remapping process in Illinois that they were eventually going to be free of Walsh -- who was becoming a state-wide and national GOP embarrassment -- in the 2012 elections.

And Walsh knew the day the new map was released that his time as a legislator was over.

This wasn't a map that would make Walsh's re-election chances tough. It was a map that made them impossible.
Note to ops: If you think Joe Walsh belongs in the US House of Representatives and needs to be sent back ASAP, then say yes to map reform. Work to get a constitutional amendment on next November's ballot!

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