John Beydler at "The Passing Parade" joins the many who have taken notice of the Illinois 17th congressional district's bizarre composition. It's been written up elsewhere on the national level as a prime example of gerrymandering taken to it's extreme.
Beydler recounts a humorous exchange he had with Sen. John Sullivan, one of the candidates seeking to represent this district, which succinctly illustrates just how crazy it is:
I said that no one should be a candidate unless they can pass this test: Start in Rock Island and get to Decatur without leaving the district.Beydler also goes on to note the difficult job Don Johnston faces in attempting to identify and count the votes of hundreds of precincts, some of which are actually divided by THREE congressional districts!
He laughed, ruefully. "They'd have to find the right alley in Springfield."
Yup. An alley. That's how wide the 17th is as it snakes through portions of Springfield.
This weird extreme of re-districting occured as the result of horse-trading between the Republicans and Dems where they "fixed" some districts in order to make them even more assured of re-electing incumbants from both parties.
The rate of re-election of incumbants is so stacked nation-wide that unless they really screw up, once they're elected, politicians are essentially in for as long as they want. The idea of an evolving representation long ago became a myth, due to those in power constantly rigging things to both prevent others from being allowed to challenge and to ensure that they stay in power.
Behold, the hydra-headed monster known as the 17th.
Note: A helpful Dopester provided the text of an article written by Ed Tibbettts of the QC Times shortly after the redistricting.