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Viewpoint: Lying isn't leadership

Op-Ed by Darren Bailey


Gov. J.B. Pritzker's lie about taking politics out of reapportionment and pushing "fair and independent maps" wouldn't be so shocking if he hadn't said it so often and with such conviction and sincerity.

All through his 2018 campaign for governor, Pritzker said he supported an amendment to the state Constitution to take congressional map-drawing out of the hands of state legislators and into those of an independent commission.

He went so far as to say he'd veto legislative maps, "in any way drafted or created by legislators, political party leaders and/or their staffs or allies." Instead, he said, he would hand it over to an independent panel.

This is not some new, untried experiment. Neighboring Missouri has instituted an independent map-drawing commission, and so have Michigan, Colorado, and Utah.

With Pritzker facing reelection next year, though, it appears he's willing to allow his Democratic allies in the legislature one last go at picking their voters by drawing Republicans into concentrated and ludicrously configured districts.

"We need a governor who keeps his promises."

Lying isn't leadership. And J.B. Pritzker has broken his word more often than he spends his money to buy elections.

Last week, Pritzker said he "trusted" the Democrats in the House and Senate to send him a fair map.

"I look to the Legislature for their proposal," Pritzker said. "I'll be looking to it for its fairness."

The governor might want to invest in a microscope because he's going to have to look hard.

This is Illinois, a state where corruption and cynicism compete with one another as the political class builds its power base and their special-interest handlers line their pockets.

Let me be clear. I'm a conservative Republican. But I also know that there are some things bigger than politics – things like honesty, transparency, and fair play.

I'm committed to seeing an end to the inside-dealing that has dominated our redistricting process. Voters should pick their elected officials, not the other way around. That's why, as governor, I'll use the bully pulpit to reform the system by which we draw our districts.

Illinoisans deserve better than the current, worn-out system.

We were asked, by this very governor, to expect better. And it was all a lie.

Pritzker will argue that a constitutional amendment is absolutely necessary to take politics out of partisan hands and into those of a bi-partisan, or even non-partisan, commission. He should read his state's Constitution.

While the law assigns the power to redistrict to the legislature, it does not prohibit them from assigning the work of map-drawing to a less-partisan body. The legislature's job is to enact the maps.

And remember the governor's pledge to veto any partisan plan?

The Constitution provides for a commission, appointed by the legislature, to handle the task. And if that commission deadlocks, there's even language providing for the Supreme Court to pick a ninth member – by lottery if need be – to break deadlocks.

Let's not forget that after each of the past four censuses, the legislature proved itself unable to come up with a plan for new districts. As ever, it ended up in the courts because hardline partisans showed themselves incapable of governing legislatively.

We need a commission. And we need a governor who keeps his promises.

That doesn't sound like much, and it's far from perfect. Still, it's considerably better than the unpalatable task before us now that J.B. Pritzker has broken his word and made this process about partisan politics instead of how we can best provide Illinoisans the representation they deserve.


Darren Bailey, currently the Representative from the 109th District, is a Republican candidate for the 2022 Illinois gubernatorial election.

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