The head of the Illinois Republican Party is attempting to make Gov. Pat Quinn live up to his words — or eat them.
GOP Chairman Pat Brady is circulating a press release that includes three statements from Quinn about the need for a fair, open redistricting process with competitive districts.
Among them are a statement quoted in the Chicago Tribune April 29, 2010, in which Quinn said, “I just think the best way to have redistricting is to set up competitive districts that are not gerrymandered to make sure the people have the best representatives. Too often this is an exercise of protecting incumbents of both parties. I don’t think that’s healthy. I’ve always felt that redistricting has been way too political in our state, by both parties. So if I’m governor, I’m going to try and be the person who makes sure we do it right for the people and not for the politicians.”
Quinn was elected in November. He has the power to “be the person who makes sure we do it right for the people and not for the politicians.” But will he?
So far, he has been rather tight-lipped about the new district boundary maps produced by Democrats.
One might argue they are competitive — in that they force several Republicans to compete against each other in the primary or seek a different office. But the only incumbents being protected are Democrats.
If Quinn had really wanted to reform a process he rightfully described as “way too political,” he would have been more forceful in advocating passage of redistricting reforms that would have made this a more independent process with objective criteria that included keeping political boundaries intact.
Instead, we have maps that split largely Republican areas such as McLean County into multiple districts to dilute their strength and/or force same-party incumbents into head-to-head competition.
Don’t get us wrong. The “bipartisan” maps after previous post-census redistricting, in which incumbents worked to protect incumbents of both parties, or the ridiculously unbalanced maps that favored one party over the other and were left to drawing lots from Abe Lincoln’s stovepipe hat were nothing to brag about, either.
Nonetheless, Quinn would be standing by his earlier statements if he vetoed the maps approved by the Democrat-held House and Senate.
With the end of May, Democrats can no longer approve new district boundaries without Republican support. Therefore, a Quinn veto would turn this into a more bipartisan process and give the public another chance to be fully involved.