Senator Jones and Senator Luetchefeld Face Off for New District 58

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By Stephanie Tyrpak

WSIL - The state's new legislative districts are in place, and they're changing politics in southern Illinois. One new district pits two Republican incumbents against one another.

Senator David Luechtefeld announced Thursday he will run for reelection in the 58th district. This comes after Senator John O. Jones said he also plans to run in the 58th.

"I can say for sure one well-respected long-time state senator is gonna lose," said political analyst Charles Leonard. "I think our politics will be poorer for it."

When the legislative districts were redrawn this spring, Senator Luechtefeld and Senator Jones were drawn out. The two Republicans are now running for one seat.

"I'm running in the 58th because that's where I live," said Senator Jones. "I could run in three other districts really, but I don't live in those districts."

"I know the people in this district," said Senator Luechtefeld. "I've tried to serve them for the last 15 years."

Legislative maps are redrawn every ten years to reflect population changes. But the newest maps have been criticized for being too political and for being a way that Democrats could move Republicans out of their home districts.

It's a complaint coming from Republican lawmakers and those in the public policy community.

"It is one reason our political system seems broke, because as it's been said before, political redistricting allows legislators to pick their voters, rather than voters to pick their legislators," said Leonard.

Changes to the maps were expected, with Southern Illinois districts becoming larger and growing northward.

While Senators Jones and Luechtefeld may be unhappy with the changes, both are moving forward with their primary campaigns.

"You have to live with the way the process is at the time, and hopefully change the process in the future," said Senator Jones.

"I think both of us were put in a very uncomfortable position that we certainly didn't want to be in, but we're forced to be in," said Senator Luechtefeld.

The two senators are long-time friends, something both said won't change after the election. In the future, both would like to see districts drawn by a non-partisan group.

This year, Democrats drew the new boundaries because they control the General Assembly and the Governor's Office.
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