Cook County, which includes Chicago, and the five urban counties surrounding it are largely Democratic. But though Illinois has a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in the state Senate and House, the rest of the state is increasingly Republican, a political professor emeritus says. That may explain why there's a growing movement to split Illinois into two states. Republican state lawmaker Brad Halbrook recently got big applause at an Effingham, Ill., rally when he talked about a bill he reintroduced in February to do just that, reports the Washington Post, which takes a look at the movement that includes grass-roots groups with names like Illinois Separation and New Illinois. Supporters say Chicago has too much influence in Illinois politics; Halbrook went on Fox & Friends Monday to make that argument and call for a "new Illinois."
Some supporters also insist it's not just about politics: While Chicago has a lot of economic power, "one in four jobs [in the state] is related to agriculture, so there is another economic driver," Halbrook says, noting that the rest of Illinois could hold its own economically. The co-founder of New Illinois adds that the issue isn't a "red, blue, Republican and Democrat thing. It’s an urban versus rural thing." The founder of the Illinois Separation blog is calling for counties to introduce nonbinding resolutions to their ballots in an effort to "show the legislature that this is truly what the people want"; one of the state's 102 counties has already decided to do so, and the blog founder says many others are considering it. Experts say the urban vs. rural divide has led to similar movements in California and New York. The Illinois bill has "a long way to go," per the Post; Fox goes further and says it has "virtually no chance of passing." (Take a look at the "New California" movement.)