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Proposed congressional map could rejigger 2022 races in Will County

The map drawn by Illinois Democrats places Reps. Marie Newman and Adam Kinzinger in the same district

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The release of proposed congressional maps by state Democrats last week has already had a ripple effect on races in Will County nearly a year before the 2022 midterm elections.

Even before the Illinois General Assembly has approved the new map, multiple candidates have said they’re reevaluating which districts they’ll be running in.

The state legislature is in charge of redrawing the borders of the congressional districts every 10 years after the U.S. Census count. Since state Democrats have majorities in the Illinois General Assembly, they have controlled the redistricting process.

Lawmakers had already approved new state legislative maps over the objection of Republicans and other groups, but a federal court panel threw out the maps this week ruling they were unconstitutional.

Perhaps most notably, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, has been drawn out of the safe Republican district which spanned several counties through the rural parts of the northern and north central parts of the state.

It appears Kinzinger will be drawn into the same district with Rep. Marie Newman, D-La Grange in a new 3rd District which would reach east into southwest Cook County all the way west toward Ottawa. The proposed district would also include much of Homer Glen and Lockport, and parts of New Lenox, Joliet, Channahon and Minooka.

While Kinzinger has said he intends to run for a seat in the House of Representatives next year, he released a statement last week hinting his stance could change.

“Following the release of the new congressional maps for Illinois, my team and I will spend some time looking them over and reviewing all of the options, including those outside the House,” Kinzinger said.

The Republican congressman also blasted the Democrat-controlled redistricting process as “anything but transparent, which comes as not surprise to anyone.”

“I believe the people of Illinois deserve better,” Kinzinger said.

He wasn’t the only sitting member of Congress representing the area who was critical of the proposed map.

Newman said in a statement it was “abundantly apparent” that the proposed new 3rd District “is not only retrogressive but substantially diminishes the diverse and progressive voices of Chicago’s Southwest Side and suburbs.”

Still, Newman said she aims to continue representing the district in Congress.

If the new districts are approved and Newman and Kinzinger both decide to run for the seat they would be placed in, that could set up a high-profile race next year, assuming both win their respective primary races.

Kinzinger could be especially vulnerable after his stance against former President Donald Trump’s unfounded accusations of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Several Republicans in Kinzinger’s existing district have turned on him in the months since.

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Still, the new maps have already caused at least one potential challenger to Kinzinger to switch races.

Perennial candidate James Marter, of Oswego, announced instead of challenging Kinzinger, he would instead run against Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, in the 14th District. The proposed 14th District stretches from the northwest tip of Will County in the south and runs through many of the collar counties north to the Wisconsin border.

Another candidate who had previously announced a challenge to Kinzinger, Jack Lombardi, said in a tweet he and his team “will carefully explore all options available leaving nothing off the table.” The Manhattan resident already does not live in Kinzinger’s existing district, though candidates do not have to live in the district they’re running to represent.

The proposed map would also change the 11th District which Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, represents in the House. The new 11th District would reach as far as near Rockford in the northern part of the state to parts of Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Crest Hill, Plainfield, Shorewood and the west side of Joliet.

Rep. Bobby Rush’s, D-Chicago, 1st District would still extend from the south side of Chicago through parts of Will County including Mokena, Frankfort, Manhattan, and Wilmington.

Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, would likely still represent the 2nd District which includes the eastern-most part of Will County.

The state legislature could approve the proposed maps as soon as this month’s legislative session.