The Republicans control more state governments-- and are far less inclined than Democrats to turn redistricting over to independent commissions-- so they are infamous for their vicious partisan gerrymandering, especially in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Louisiana, Utah, Michigan and Georgia. But it would be incorrect to assume that Democrats can't be just as bad-- and they certainly are in Maryland and Illinois. Especially Illinois. This cycle, Illinois is losing a seat. One possibility would be to force three hopelessly downstate right wingers-- Rodney Davis (IL-13, PVI is R+4), Mike Bost (IL-12, PVI is R+9) and Trumpist/QAnon loon Mary Miller (IL-15, PVI is R+26)-- to fight it out for two seats. The obvious move would be to create a new blue IL-13 by combining Champaign, Bloomington, Normal, Decatur and Springfield in the northern (blue) part of IL-13 with Peoria. The idea would be to eliminate IL-16 (by letting red chunks be absorbed into a new red IL-17 plus giving Rockford to IL-14 and pitting some red areas into safely blue IL-01 (PVI is D+25), IL-02 (PVI is D+28) and IL-11 (PVI is D+11).
Remember, the Democrats have also been eager to shore up two of their own incumbents, Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Cheri Bustos (IL-17), each in a district with a PVI of R+2. Trump won Bustos' district 49.7% to 48.1% and lost Underwood's 50.2% to 47.8%. Underwood scraped by against a notorious right-wing psychopath, Jim Oberweis, 203,209 (50.7%) to 197,835 (49.3%) and Bustos beat Esther King 156,011 (52.0%) to 143,863 (48.0%). both too close for comfort. But this morning the news broke that conservative Democrat Cheri Bustos will not be seeking reelection. We'll get to why below, but this brings in another possibility for the Democrats. They can abandon most of IL-17 to the Republicans while turning IL-16 (Adam Kinzinger's seat) blue and turning Underwood's seat blue as well.
Winnebago is a swing county divided between Bustos and Kinzinger, and it tends to swing blue. Obama won it 55.3% to 42.5% in 2008 and 51.75 to 46.2% in 2012. Hillary beat Trump by 89 votes, 46.4% to 46.3% and then Biden beat Trump a tad more convincingly, 50.2% to 47.7%. By removing Winnebago from IL-17 (basically Rockford), IL-16 becomes a blue district and Kinzinger will run for statewide office rather than for reelection. Or they could attach it to Underwood's district, making her nice and safe, while giving IL-16, Peoria on the other end of Bustos district. Right now the blue part of Peoria County is in Bustos' district and the smaller red part is in IL-18, Darin LaHood's prohibitively red district.
The result would be a Republican (maybe Kinzinger) in IL-17, while IL-16 disappears and the new IL-13 is blue, while Davis has the choice of retiring or taking on either Bost or Miller from the southern red rump of IL-13.
Now, why did Bustos decide to retire? Despite the crowing today from the NRCC, the 17th as is would likely reelect her in a general. Her weakness lies in a potential primary from the left. But that's just potential. The rumor that she was pushed out by the new head of the post-Madigan Democratic Party, Robin Kelly, just doesn't hold water for me. Kelly supposedly decided to make IL-17 too red for her to win (R+10). The problem with that is that Democratic legislatures protect incumbents first and foremost. Kelly may hate Bustos and see her as a future rival for statewide office but the idea of forcing her out is just not really credible, especially since Kelly hasn't consolidated that amount of power yet.
From what I'm hearing I'm coming to the conclusion that the reason she decided to jump ship-- probably to become a lobbyist-- is because her pathways to a leadership role in the House ended with her disastrous performance as DCCC chair. She is widely considered the worst DCCC in modern history. No one ever mentions her any more as a potential post-Nancy speaker or... anything else. Her upward mobility is over and the only thing she could do in Congress is sit around as a backbencher grousing the way Debbie Wasserman Schultz, once also considered an up-and-comer, now does.
And Conor Lamb...
Conor Lamb is one of the most conservative and worthless Democrats in the House. He earned an "F" rating from ProgressivePunch and his lifetime vote score is a dismal 59.44%, fractionally better than Arizona Blue Dog Tom O'Halleran's 59.27% nd ever so slightly better than Bustos' 56.15%.
A couple of days ago something odd happened, something that had never happened before. Lamb signed on to a Pramila Jayapal letter-- as one of 4 principles-- urging Biden to take very significant progressive changes to Medicare. Lamb hasn't done anything like that since he was first elected. I said to myself, Self, he's running for the open Senate seat against Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. Lamb is good at raising money and I immediately smelled Little Chucky Schmucky Schumer all over it. He's certainly Schumer's kind of candidate and Schumer has already started one of his trademark vicious whispering campaigns against Fetterman.
And sure enough, late this afternoon, Sarah Ferris and James Arkin reported that Lamb has been telling donors and supporters that he's "likely" to join the field, which also will probably include state Rep Malcolm Kenyatta, Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh (an EMILY's List sure loser), and possibly another conservative House member with, like Lamb, no accomplishments in Congress at all, Chrissy Houlahan.