By Jim Ellis
Oct. 18, 2021 — In this redistricting cycle’s early going, one state appears to be adopting a unique map-drawing approach, and its design likely assures a long and challenging legal process to follow.
The 13-member Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has drafted 10 maps of the congressional, state Senate, and state House maps and made them available for public testimony and comments at a series of upcoming public hearings. Within the series, four relate to the congressional boundaries with the remaining six being divided evenly between the state Senate and House.
The multiple congressional maps go in several different geographical directions and radically alter the state’s district layout to the point of even changing the entire numbering system.
It appears the basis could be in place for many lawsuits and possibly from people or organizations associated with both parties, since the final version will likely draw complaints from both Republicans and Democrats. This would be particularly true if the final map collapses a Voting Rights Act minority district as one version features.
While four draft maps were released, the congressional plan base outline seems to be in place. Remember that Michigan will lose one congressional seat, reducing the delegation size to 13 members, and we will inevitably see at least one pairing of incumbents. At this point, no sitting member has indicated that he or she will retire.
The map versions suggest several options for the Detroit metro area; for example, meaning Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), and Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) could all find themselves in some type of a paired situation.
Looking at what little partisan political numbers are available, most of the maps point to the Democrats gaining a net of one seat, but some of the districts would be competitive to the degree of making the final outcome unclear.
Below is a synopsis of where each current member could land:
• District 1: Rep. Jack Bergman (R) – looks to receive a strongly Republican northern Michigan seat bordering Canada from the upper peninsula that will drop even further into the lower peninsula. Labeled District 12.
• District 2: Rep. Bill Huizenga (R) – could be in a paired situation with either Reps. Fred Upton (R) or John Moolenaar (R), as the commissioners take his current 2nd District to the southeast instead of due east or north as expected. The primary winner would get a safe Republican district. Labeled District 9, though Huizenga could run in a new District 13 in a potential pairing with Moolenaar.