Obama rise in Illinois state politics was immensely helped by his redistricting efforts. A process that he had criticized but disregarded when it was for his convenience.
From the New Yorker.
In the end, Obama’s North Side fund-raising base and his South Side political base were united in one district. He now represented Hyde Park operators like Lois Friedberg-Dobry as well as Gold Coast doyennes like Bettylu Saltzman, and his old South Side street operative Al Kindle as well as his future consultant David Axelrod. In an article in the Hyde Park Herald about how “partisan” and “undemocratic” Illinois redistricting had become, Obama was asked for his views. As usual, he was candid. “There is a conflict of interest built into the process,” he said. “Incumbents drawing their own maps will inevitably try to advantage themselves.”
The partisan redistricting of Illinois may have been the most important event in Obama’s early political life.