During his three decades in Elmhurst, John Morrissey has been comfortable being represented in Washington by a generation of conservative congressmen.
Now the retired 61-year-old business manager is coming to the realization that after having been a constituent of the late conservative icon Henry Hyde and current House Republican Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam, his next representative in Congress is likely to be Mike Quigley, a liberal Democrat from Chicago's North Side.
"It's probably not good for Elmhurst to be tied to the North Side of Chicago," said Morrissey, a member of Elmhurst's library board and a Republican precinct captain for the last 10 years. "It's not just a different set of interests, but it's also the way Chicago politics is run."
Welcome to the new world brought on by congressional redistricting, where millions of Illinois residents will soon find their congressman is no longer their congressman. The shifting is what happens when one political party — in this case the Democrats — assumed total control of drawing new district boundaries.
The idea, according to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee memo that surfaced during a Republican lawsuit challenging the new map, was to create as many Illinois Democratic districts as possible to help a national effort to take back the House.
It's led to some odd geography throughout the state. In addition to the Elmhurst/North Side example, Rockford has been split into two districts, Chicago's South Side is now lumped in with Kankakee, and Aurora and Joliet are joined.
New boundaries have to be redrawn after every federal census to reflect population changes. Illinois lost one of its current 19 House seats because the state's population failed to grow as fast as in other states.
Illinois has had 11 Republican congressmen and eight Democrats since the November 2010 election. The new map, designed by the dominant Democrats, could flip that advantage to as many as 12 Democrats and only six Republicans.
The approach contrasts with the one taken a decade ago, when the state's Republicans and Democrats in Congress agreed among themselves on new boundaries that reduced the delegation by one seat. The map was mostly an incumbent preservation plan.
The way the new map was drawn tracks closer to the political dynamic of 20 years ago. Republicans won the right to draw the boundaries, and the lines forced several Democratic congressmen to battle each other in primaries. The GOP picked up seats.
This time around, five Republican congressmen opted to run in new districts that mostly lean Democrat. The result is only one head-to-head GOP primary: the northwest and north-central Illinois 16th District campaign between first-term Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Manteno, which is west of the Indiana line, and veteran Rep. Donald Manzullo of Leaf River, southwest of Rockford.
The favorable map lines created new opportunities for Democrats, who are waging several primary contests ahead of the March 20 election.
Those include Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.of Chicago against former Rep. Debbie Halvorson of Crete in the new expanded 2nd District, a multicandidate battle in the new north suburban 10th District to run against first-term Republican Rep. Robert Dold and the new northwest suburban 8th District matchup between Tammy Duckworth and Raja Krishnamoorthi for the right to take on first-term GOP Rep. Joe Walsh.
Chicago's population declined by 200,000 over the past decade, and the congressional districts of Democrats such as Jackson, as well as Reps. Bobby Rush, Luis Gutierrez and Danny Davis, lost nearly 185,000 people.
To preserve minority-represented districts under the federal Voting Rights Act, Democrats vastly expanded city congressional districts by stretching the boundaries to the suburbs and beyond.
The resulting map reveals just how far the advance of computers has helped political cartographers. Congressional districts once were drawn largely along township and ward boundaries, but mapmakers now dissect boundaries based on the partisan nature of individual voting precincts, splitting up cities and towns to have a better shot at reaching political goals.
In one instance, Democrats snaked together an oddly shaped new 11th District linking Democratic-favorable territory in Aurora, Bolingbrook and Joliet.
At the same time, the new map fractures Rockford into two different congressional districts, after having been represented by a single House member since 1850, according to federal court testimony. Rockford's west and south sides are now part of a Democratic-leaning district linked to Peoria and the Quad Cities along the Mississippi River.
Collinsville, a southwestern Illinois community of fewer than 26,000 that is home to Republican Rep. John Shimkus, finds itself split into three congressional districts. One district runs north to include parts of Springfield, Bloomington, Decatur and Champaign.
Throughout the suburbs, many towns that used to be in one district are now divided in two. Among them: Crystal Lake, Gurnee, St. Charles, Melrose Park and Oswego.
The effect is on display through much of Republican-leaning DuPage County, where Carol Stream, Lombard and Elmhurst were chopped into two districts. Naperville had been in one district but is now three.
The Democratic map shattered the old 13th Congressional District held by veteran GOP Rep. Judy Biggert into six districts.
The Hinsdale congresswoman's home was put into the southern tip of the new 5th District, where Quigley lives. Republicans told a federal court that the new district contains more than 70 percent of Quigley's old district, but less than 1.5 percent of Biggert's old district. Biggert opted to run in the open-seat Democratic-leaning 11th District to the west of her current boundaries.
The collateral damage of the Democratic move shifted Roskam's 6th Congressional District further north and west into McHenry and Lake counties, though it's still Republican territory. Part of Elmhurst was diverted into the new 8th District drawn to favor Democrats. Another portion joined the Chicago-dominated 5th District.
"It's a completely new environment for the politically tuned-in people in Elmhurst to find themselves in a Democratic congressional district," said former Elmhurst Mayor Thomas Marcucci, an executive with a Chicago-based bakery.
"Our priorities, I'd be surprised if they were the same as our new congressman," Marcucci said. "Having said that, he appears to be … not the worst of the bunch. As far as I'm concerned, it could be a lot worse."
Quigley points out his west suburban roots, growing up in Carol Stream and graduating from Glenbard North High School, to defend his familiarity with the area. The congressman also notes his push for ethics reforms against former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger during Quigley's time on the board.
"I care about the same issues they care about," Quigley said. "There's a nonpartisan quality to service. We're accessible. We'll have offices throughout my district. We'll talk about what governments need, whoever they are. We'll talk with constituents, whoever they are. No one asks Democrat or Republican. They ask, 'Are you accessible, and can you get things done.'"
Quigley also said he has worked to promote bipartisanship in the delegation, including his recent efforts with Dold on legislation that would ban congressional pensions for those convicted of federal corruption. The measure was prompted by the conviction of a predecessor in the 5th District, Rod Blagojevich, though it would not affect the former governor.
A lone Republican has filed for the right to take on Quigley. Dan Schmitt, who lives near the junction of the Kennedy and Edens expressways in Chicago, has not filed a federal campaign disclosure report, required when a candidate raises or spends a total of $5,000.
On his website, Schmitt said he's running "to protect our right to ride motorcycles, race motorcycles, ride motorcycles off-road and live a great life without the federal government looking over our shoulders."