Illinois: Democratic Gerrymander Faces 2014 Test Without Obama

Next year’s House elections in Illinois will test the ability of Democrats to defend some seats without the top-of-the-ticket pull of President Barack Obama, the state’s most prominent Democrat.

All 18 House members from Illinois, including 12 Democrats, filed for re-election before yesterday’s deadline, the earliest in the nation. The primary election is March 18.

Rematches are likely in the 10th District north of Chicago and in the northwestern 17th District, where Democratic freshmen face the Republicans they unseated in 2012, a good Democratic year.

In the 10th, which includes Libertyville and about all of Waukegan, Rep. Brad Schneider and former Rep. Bob Dold together raised more than $2 million this year through September, more than a year before the 2014 general election. Schneider beat Dold in 2012 by 1.26 percentage points, the ninth-smallest margin of victory in a House race that year.

In the 17th, Rep. Cheri Bustos and former Rep. Bobby Schilling probably will be general election opponents again in a district that hugs the Mississippi River, taking up Rock Island and Moline while also scooping up most of Rockford and Peoria. Bustos won in 2012 by about 7 points.

Five Republicans filed to oppose Democratic Rep. Bill Foster, who was returned to Congress in the 2012 election after representing a more Republican-friendly area from 2008 to 2011.

In the far downstate 12th District, one-term Democratic Rep. Bill Enyart and Republican state Rep. Mike Bost were the only major-party candidates to file in an area that includes some territory that’s as close to Jackson, Mississippi as to Chicago.

Schneider, Bustos and Foster were aided by a congressional remap their party’s legislators pushed through over Memorial Day weekend in 2011.

Democrats won 12 of the 13 districts where they seriously competed, losing only the 13th District in and around Champaign and Decatur. Republican Rodney Davis, a former congressional aide, won by 0.34 percentage point in the third-closest House election of 2012.

Davis is opposed in the primary by two Republicans including Erika Harold, a lawyer and former Miss America. The four Democrats seeking the seat include Ann Callis, a former judge who’s the preferred candidate of House Democratic leaders and Sen. Richard Durbin.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report presently rates Schneider’s 10th as a tossup, Davis’s 13th as leaning Republican and Enyart’s 12th and Bustos’s 17th as leaning Democratic. Foster’s 11th is rated as likely Democratic.

Click here for a list of Illinois candidates and here for a district map.


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