ROCKFORD (WREX) — Congresswoman Cheri Bustos says her decision to no seek reelection was in no way influenced by Illinois losing a congressional seat.
"It has no impact," says Bustos. "This will remain a district that includes Peoria, Rockford, Quad Cities. If anything it will likely be better district for a democrat not a worse one."
Bustos says the 17th District will need to change with the state losing a seat, potentially absorbing more of Rockford or Peoria.
"When you have 18 congressional districts in the state of Illinois and you go to 17 , that means there will be more people. Somewhere around 60 to 70 thousand will have to be added."
Rockford University Professor and political expert Bob Evans says the redistricting of the state will be highly politicized and favor the party who owns the legislature and governor's seat. In other words: In Illinois, it will favor democrats. One choice he thinks is highly plausible is cracking up the 17th District.
"The least disruptive tactic would be to take Cheri Bustos's district and cut it up into other districts so you're not dislocating a current democrat incumbent," says Evans.
Evans believes this presents challenges for democrats. The biggest, the risk of republican pieces of the 17th District winding up in republican leaning districts. Ultimately providing more support to the right. Which is why he believes democrats might also consider breaking up a republican leaning district.
"If they take any of those and carve them up into a democratic district- that would weaken republicans further but might make it look more overtly political."
While he can only speculate on scenarios for now, Evans says this redistricting will greatly impact the future of our state.
"It's one of the most important political exercises to place in decade."