Former Gov. Pat Quinn thinks he knows how to get a redistricting ballot question past the Illinois Supreme Court. The Democrat, who lost his 2014 re-election bid to Republican Bruce Rauner, has been on a bit of a petition drive since becoming a private citizen. Until Tuesday, his focus had been local — he spent the summer soliciting Chicagoans for signatures to get mayoral term limits on a future ballot. Last week’s state Supreme Court decision to keep the Independent Maps group’s redistricting question off the Nov. 8 ballot created an opening for Quinn to again remind people that he led the only successful citizen-driven petition to change the state constitution — in 1980.
That experience makes Quinn an authority on the matter, he contends. So he took the redistricting proposal that died in the courts this summer and slimmed it down to something simpler. Under his plan, the state Supreme Court would appoint an 11-member commission to draw new lines after each once-a-decade census, and the map would have to be approved by at least seven of the members.
“I think it’s important to have something lean and clean and pristine,” Quinn said.
The timing of the announcement was unusual, given that the Illinois Constitution does not allow petitions to be circulated until two years before the next election. Also, it’s worth noting that it was Quinn who approved the current map, which was last redrawn during his governorship in 2011. The Illinois Republican Party certainly noted it.