The village of Frankfort, as bedrock a Republican community as there is in Will County, may find itself represented in Congress by a former Black Panther under the congressional map signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn today.
Bobby Rush's 1st District has nearly doubled in size, stretching all the way from the inner-city neighborhoods of the South Side to out to Frankfort, Mokena and westward to little Elwood.
GOP congressmen, including Adam Kinzinger, whose territory was appropriated into Rush's district, said the party will take the map to court.
As the 11th District's congressman, Republican Jerry Weller represented the village of Frankfort for seven terms, stepping down in 2008. For two years, Democrat Debbie Halvorson, of Crete, occupied the seat in the right-leaning district until the conservative Kinzinger, who's from Bloomington, sent her home.
George Sangmeister was the last Frankfort native sent to Congress. The Democrat served from 1988 to 1994. At the time, the district was considered "marginally Republican."
The Democratic-drawn map of new congressional boundaries is designed to reverse Republican gains in last year’s election, according to the Chicago Tribune.
More than just reflecting population shifts, the map lines also reflect the political power of controlling the cartography.
The map pits some incumbent Republicans against others, stretches boundaries to allow incumbent Chicago Democrats to reach out into the GOP-leaning suburbs or gives GOP congressmen vast swatches of new unfamiliar territory.
Rush could not be reached for comment Friday.
A statement signed by Kinzinger and other GOP congressmen issued Friday afternoon reads:
“Governor Quinn said that a fair redistricting process required hearings. Yet the map was unveiled on a Friday and passed the following Monday, with no hearings. Governor Quinn said that the way in which district lines are drawn contributes to the success of our democracy. Yet the map he approved seeks to reverse the results of a democratic election. Governor Quinn advocated for a fair and open process. Instead, he has guaranteed an unfair and closed one.
“This map will be challenged in court, and we do not expect to comment further on a matter that now will be the subject of litigation. As we have said before, we do not believe this map will stand.”
Patch will follow this issue and update readers next week with more information.