Last spring, Michael Madigan and his band of backroom Democratic gerrymanderers in the General Assembly redrew the state’s congressional district boundaries. Political prognosticators say the new map could wipe out four to six Republicans, reversing the GOP gains made two years ago. One thing is for sure: The map has produced some buzz in our otherwise incredibly boring congressional primaries (this month)—with more fireworks to come in November. Here’s a breakdown of the best races to watch:
HOT SEAT The eight-term incumbent, Jesse Jackson Jr., faces former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson (11th) in the Democratic primary. Jackson has the edge, but Halvorson has previously represented a third of the redrawn district, all of which is new to Jackson. Either Jackson or Halvorson will likely win in November; in 2010, more than seven out of ten voters here picked Democrat Pat Quinn over Republican Bill Brady.
HOT SEAT Two Democrats, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Tammy Duckworth, want to take on freshman Republican Joe Walsh in November. Duckworth’s 2006 congressional bid may help her, since 56 percent of the redrawn Eighth District comes from areas in the old Sixth District, where she ran last time. Should Duckworth win, she’ll have a big territorial advantage over Walsh, who currently represents only 26 percent of the new Eighth.
HOT SEAT Five Democrats are seeking the seat currently held by Republican Robert Dold. The Tenth, one of the most Democratic-leaning districts in Republican hands, was made even friendlier to Team Blue. Republican strongholds in Cook County—Arlington Heights, Northfield, Palatine, and Winnetka—were removed, and Democratic areas of Des Plaines and swing territories in Lake County (Zion and Chain O’Lakes) were added.
HOT SEAT Expect a November barnburner when the Democratic ex-rep Bill Foster (of the old 14th District) faces the 13th District incumbent, Republican Judy Biggert. Neither candidate lives in the new 11th, though each has represented significant chunks of it: 48 percent of the new 11th comes from the old 13th, which Biggert has held since 1999, while 26 percent is from the old 14th, which Foster represented from 2008 to 2011.