Testimony in federal court Thursday pulled the curtain back on the remapping of Illinois’ congressional districts. Democrats in Springfield had the power to redraw district boundaries, but apparently were mindful of at least one Republican who testified in court today. U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaten) testified that Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) approached him and offered to protect his Sixth District congressional seat if Roskam would persuade Republican lawmakers to go along with the redrawn map. It happened during a phone call in which Roskam says Cullerton made it clear he was talking with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and made clear another point – U.S Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Hinsdale) was “gone.” Roskam says he eventually denied Cullerton’s offer.
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Earlier, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) testified his Democratic colleague, U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Belleville), offered him a series of proposed maps. Shimkus says he pushed Costello for additional information but never heard back from him. At one point Shimkus’ voice cracked, as he was asked about his relationship with Costello. “He’s retiring and he’s a close friend and confidant and I’m proud to call him my friend,” Shimkus said. Biggert testified she was concerned that what was her 13th District was now “sliced and diced” into six districts. U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Leaf River) testified that race relations in Rockford would suffer under the new map because district lines split the town in half with a predominately African-American community on the west side of the Rock River and whites on the east side. Manzullo, like Shimkus, took a moment to gather his composure when he talked about how the new map was drawn on racial lines and how Peoria and the Quad cities would be the largest benefactors, leaving Rockford struggling. Republicans are fighting the map because it makes getting elected harder for them. In court, they allege it dilutes Latino voting influence. Testimony is expected to continue today.