If Lauren Underwood desires to remain in Congress, a friendlier district would assist.
Earlier this month, Underwood defeated Jim Oberweis by simply 4,688 votes, a margin of 1 %. Not solely is Oberweis the worst candidate in Illinois historical past, having now misplaced seven elections for statewide and federal workplace, however the Republican ticket was topped by the least widespread president of recent occasions, Donald Trump.
The race was so shut that Oberweis has but to concede, and showed up for new member orientation in Washington, D.C. The dairy firm proprietor hasn’t gotten the message that if he have been a carton of his personal milk, his expiration date would learn 11-3-2020.
Within the 2022 midterm elections, Underwood might be working because the consultant of the social gathering within the White Home. That social gathering usually loses seats, particularly in swing districts like Underwood’s. (Underwood gained her seat within the first place by defeating Republican Randy Hultgren in 2018, when Democrats took over the Home by profitable suburban voters who have been fed up with Trump.)
Underwood is in luck, although. All the state’s congressional districts might be redrawn earlier than the following election, and the Democratic Illinois legislature will do the drawing. Ten years in the past, the Democrats did such an efficient job of redistricting that they flipped Illinois’s congressional delegation from 11-Eight Republican to 12-6 Democratic in a single election. POLITICO was so impressed with the gerrymander it wrote that Home Speaker Michael Madigan had “punched his ticket to the partisan corridor of fame.”
In that remap, Underwood’s 14th District was designed as a Republican “vote sink.” The thought was to corral as many Republicans as doable right into a single district, so Democrats may very well be effectively distributed in neighboring districts. For the primary three elections of its existence, the 14th functioned that approach. Hultgren gained simply, with 58 %, 65 %, and 59 % of the vote. Even Underwood appeared shocked by her victory.
“By no means did I think about that I’d be a congresswoman,” she instructed me after I met her at a restaurant in Wauconda early in her time period. “Throughout my inauguration, I cried.”
Illinois is about to lose a congressional district in 2022. Provided that, will the Democrats be capable of shield Underwood? Eric Herman, of the Democratic political consulting group Kivvit, thinks the social gathering ought to make hanging on to Underwood’s seat a precedence.
“Consultant Underwood is a star,” Herman mentioned. “She’s a reasonable Democrat in a celebration that wants moderates with star high quality. She has skilled coaching in healthcare and is a lady of colour who’s confirmed she will win in a swing district. The social gathering could be nuts to not do all the things in its energy to assist her hold getting re-elected, and my guess is that it’ll.”
The Chicago suburbs have develop into far more Democratic previously 10 years, a giant a part of why Underwood was in a position to win within the 14th District. DuPage County, which comprises Underwood’s hometown of Naperville, voted Republican in each presidential election from 1856 to 2004. This 12 months, it was Joe Biden’s third-best county within the state, after Prepare dinner and Champaign. The Democrats elected a single member to the county board in 2000; they now hold a majority.
However are there sufficient Democrats in suburbia to attract a positive district for Underwood, whereas additionally defending the seats of neighboring suburban Democrats Sean Casten, Invoice Foster, and Brad Schneider?
Hanah Jubeh, a Democratic strategist with P2 Consulting, predicts the Democrats will remove a congressional seat in Southern Illinois, which might permit them to attract a map favoring their Chicago-area incumbents.
“An aggressive gerrymander would possibly be capable of remove a downstate Republican district whereas preserving [Democrat] Cheri Bustos’ district in northwestern Illinois and with out weakening Lauren Underwood within the Chicago suburbs,” wrote Sean Trende at Actual Clear Politics. “One would in all probability need to ‘baconmander’ Chicago (the time period for stretching districts from metropolis cores into rural areas) or maybe lengthen Bustos’ district into Springfield.”
However baconmandering wouldn’t be sensible for a district as removed from Chicago as Underwood’s. Taking an in depth have a look at the 14th, which follows Chicago exurbia from the Wisconsin state line all the way down to Kendall County, there appears to be a simple resolution. Essentially the most Republican nook of the district is in Lake County. At present, Underwood’s attain spans to the county’s far northern edge, that are extra nation than suburb. She represents, for example, Fox Lake, a boating, fishing, looking, and snowmobiling resort.
This map, from the Lake County Clerk’s web site, reveals that Oberweis dominated in these communities.
A few of these precincts may very well be shifted into the 10th District, which extends east to Lake Michigan and south to the North Shore, stopping simply shy of Winnetka. Brad Schneider gained there with 60 % of the vote, and appears sufficiently ensconced to soak up just a few extra Republicans.
To compensate, Underwood’s district may very well be shifted west to soak up DeKalb, residence of Northern Illinois College, a university city that voted strongly for Biden. (Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who presently represents DeKalb, would in all probability recognize dropping it.)
Lauren Underwood represents a lot of what the Democratic Occasion is changing into: younger, extremely educated, a lady of colour, suburban. She’s not a member of the Home’s new far left (together with fellow Midwestern freshmen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib), however a nurse whose signature situation is well being care. In Underwood’s simplest TV advert, “Darcy,” the mom of an 8-year-old diabetic, praised Underwood for passing a invoice to decrease the price of insulin, and getting it “signed by President Trump.
She’s additionally being groomed for management as a member of the “Massive Six” — freshmen who function liaisons to Home management and attend Democratic Occasion technique conferences.
If historical past serves, there’s a superb likelihood the Democrats will lose the Home in 2022. They’d be sensible to do no matter they’ll to keep away from dropping Lauren Underwood.