Hard-fought races expected in redrawn districts

March 21, 2012 3:22:54 PM PDT
There will be some closely watched congressional races in November. Three contests that are expected to be hard-fought are in districts that have been redrawn.

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After losing big two years ago, the Democratic party is hoping to pick up some Chicago-area congressional seats in the fall. Political experts say three races are now in play due to redrawn districts that were mapped out by state Democrats last year.

Bill Foster is hoping to make a political comeback. After losing in a predominantly Republican district two years ago, the former Democratic congressman is counting on the redrawn 11th District to serve him better.

Foster will square off with Republican Congresswoman Judy Biggert her old district was cut so severely. It forced her to run in the 11th, which stretches from Burr Ridge to Aurora and south to Joliet.

"I do have the majority part of it in this district. I think that I've gotten the votes, no matter whether people were republicans, independents or Democrats," said Judy Biggert.

In a district that includes his hometown of Naperville, Foster is positioning himself as a thinking person's congressman, not a party loyalist.

"When I was in Congress I was known was known as a very thoughtful and centrist voice, because I would actually read bills," said Foster.

The 11th District race joins a handful of others in the Chicago area that are likely to be hot races.

In the 10th District, Republican incumbent Bob Dold, from Kenilworth, will face off with Brad Schneider, a 50-year-old Deerfield business consultant. The 10th District has been remapped to include suburbs all the way up to the Wisconsin border.

"It remains a predominately very affluent congressional district," said DePaul University Political Science Department Chair Wayne Steger. "That has to give Dold a slight advantage, although probably more competitive than it was prior to redistricting."

National attention will focus on the brand new 8th District, where Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth will try to oust tea party congressman Joe Walsh. Political experts say this the may be Democratic party's best hope of picking up a seat.

"The 8th was drawn to give the Democrats an advantage, and done so in a way where the Republicans and their candidate are gonna be at a disadvantage," said Steger.

The other race to watch is the redrawn 2nd District, where congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. will be trying to get votes in more rural areas.

Overall, political experts say all races will hinge on voter turnout and how well the presidential candidates can motivate voters.