To the Editor:
Congressman Randy Hultgren has a dilemma, and a map of the 14th congressional district illustrates the problem.
Sadly, the 14th Congressional District’s borders look like an EKG gone bad. The reason for the discombobulated appearance is that the border was drawn to enclose no more than a minority of Democrats and provide Republicans with a “safe” seat.
The practice of rigging congressional district borders is unfortunately legal as long as every district in the U.S. holds approximately the same number of people. Every 10 years, a new U.S. Census is conducted and the individual states get to divvy up their population into districts. In most states, the process is controlled by political parties, opening the door for mischief.
If the historic advantage of a gerrymandered district held true, Hultgren would be sitting pretty during the upcoming 2018 election.
But this time, things will be different because “Republican” is no longer a one-size-fits-all label. The recent health care bill ruckus in the House revealed how splintered the party actually is.
Conditions leading up to the recent vote were less a deliberation by the Republican majority than they were an acrimonious fur ball of competing agendas. The resulting bill was a dog’s dinner of features that hold little chance of surviving a review by cooler heads in the Senate. Hultgren had no good alternatives and consequently voted for this mess.
Short of the discovery of an indictable offence by a highly placed official in the White House, Hultgren isn’t particularly likely to have to fear a Democratic opponent in the next election. However, he has a lot to worry about in regard to Republicans who are unhappy with the status quo.
No doubt the Congressman will receive financial campaign support from the RNC and those special interest political action committees, whose lobbyists showered him with attention the last time around. But as the recent presidential campaign revealed, having the biggest campaign fund is not a guarantee of victory if your competitor is better at connecting with voters than you are.
Even now, potential Republican primary opponents are likely thinking about positions that tag Hultgren with voting for a health care bill that gave massive tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the very people who voted for Trump.
As old-time Texans were known to say, “what goes 'round, comes 'round.”