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Quinn approves controversial map for redrawn congressional districts

Gov. PQuinn | AP

Gov. Pat Quinn | AP

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Updated: September 29, 2011 12:44AM

SPRINGFIELD — Triggering an angry GOP outcry, Gov. Quinn Friday signed a Democratic-drawn set of new congressional boundaries that could reverse Republican gains from 2010.

“This map is fair, maintains competitiveness within congressional districts and protects the voting rights of minority communities,” Quinn said in a prepared statement announcing his decision.

The way Statehouse Democrats rejiggered the region’s congressional boundaries put five incumbent suburban Republicans into hostile Democratic turf or in potential primaries against one another.

The Democrats also did favors for their own, moving to eliminate a well-funded, possible primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and extending a finger of the Hispanic district represented by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) to include his new Portage Park home.

The redistricting is designed to reflect population shifts revealed in the Census. As part of that, Illinois lost one of its 19 congressional seats.

Responding to Quinn’s action, 10 of Illinois 11 congressional Republicans and the chief of the state GOP issued blistering responses to Quinn, belittling his claim that the map was “fair” and calling for the new boundaries to be overturned in federal court.

“Despite his expressed desire for ‘openness and fairness,’ Gov. Quinn instead rewarded his Democrat allies by approving this highly partisan map that tears apart communities and disrespects the will of Illinois voters as expressed in last fall’s election,” the statement from the GOP congressmen and women said.

The statement, signed by every Illinois Republican member of Congress except U.S. Rep. Timothy Johnson (R-Ill.), also predicted the boundaries would not withstand a federal lawsuit that is expected to be filed in federal court by former Illinois Attorney General Tyrone Fahner and ex-U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

Johnson, who was drawn out of his existing east-central Illinois congressional district, ignited anger from some of his GOP colleagues for published statements he made suggesting that a Republican legal challenge to the map would fail.

“This map is a national - not just a local - example of gerrymandering. Pat Quinn is the only one who could stand up with a straight face and say it’s a fair map,” said Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party.

“They released these proposals late on Fridays, passed them on holiday weekends and sign them into law with no public signing ceremonies on Fridays to avoid media and public scrutiny. That alone speaks volumes,” Brady said.

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