SPRINGFIELD -- Hoping to win back seats they lost in the GOP groundswell of 2010, Illinois Democrats approved new boundaries Monday for the state's congressional districts.
On a 63-54 vote, the Illinois House endorsed the new map, which separates some downstate Republican lawmakers from their key constituencies and could open the door for Democrats to run in newly configured districts covering Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana, Springfield and the Quad-Cities.
The new map, which awaits action in the Illinois Senate, is part of the highly partisan, once-per-decade redistricting process designed to ensure all congressional districts are of equal population. But, since Democrats control the process this time around, they've designed districts to maximize their chances of winning in 2012.
Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Manteno, for example, was mapped into a Democratic district with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Kinzinger could choose to run in a reconfigured district stretching from Livingston County to Rockford. But, that could mean running against fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Donald Manzullo.
Similarly, freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling of Colona was mapped into a district that includes more Democratic areas of Rockford and Peoria, potentially spelling trouble for his bid for a second term.
In a last minute switch Democrats, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican, was placed in a district that stretching from his hometown of Collinsville north to Ford County, including major swaths of southeastern Illinois. He loses territory he currently represents in Springfield and Taylorville.
Similarly, U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, a Republican from Urbana, was placed into a district that includes his home base of Champaign-Urbana and parts of Bloomington-Normal. But, Shimkus would now represent much of the eastern border areas of the state.
Johnson spokesman Phil Bloomer said the congressman expects to run in the reconfigured 13th district in the 2012 election. But, he decried the process that led to the new boundaries.
"It's not only unfortunate, it's crazy, that they didn't include any members of the delegation on the Republican side when they created the map. That's not only a disservice to the congressman, but a disservice to the people he represents," Bloomer said.
Peoria-based U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, a Republican, was drawn into a district that includes portions of Peoria County, parts of McLean County -- including much of the eastern Bloomington-Normal area -- and all or portions of Logan, Mason and Sangamon counties.
Republicans said the map could be challenged in federal court.