Category Archives: MICHIGAN

Redistricting Update Notes: Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania

Florida Redistricting:

Gov. DeSantis Queries High Court: Attempting to solve the disagreement between Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and some leadership members from the state legislature, the state’s chief executive has asked the Florida state Supreme Court for an advisory opinion about the legality of dividing the majority minority 5th District that stretches from Tallahassee to Jacksonville. A brand new Michigan state Supreme Court ruling (see below) that affirmed the state’s redistricting commission move to divide their minority seats in Detroit could provide some precedent for the Florida high court.

Michigan Redistricting:

State Supreme Court Rejects Dem Legislators’ Claim: The Michigan state Supreme Court, on a 4-3 vote, rejected the redistricting challenge of a group of current and past Detroit area African American state legislators late Thursday. The plaintiffs were arguing that the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission members illegally divided many of the minority Voting Rights districts, but a majority of the justices disagreed. Therefore, the Commission-adopted congressional and legislative maps will stand pending further litigation in federal court should the plaintiffs, or others, launch additional legal action.

Pennsylvania Redistricting:

State Supreme Court Assumes Jurisdiction: The Pennsylvania state Supreme Court, known as one of the most politically partisan judicial panels in the country, announced last week that it is claiming jurisdiction of the redistricting case now before Republican judge Patricia McCullough of the Commonwealth Court. At first, this appeared a partisan Democratic move, but the high court then installed Judge McCullough as the special master with the responsibility of drawing the new congressional and state legislative maps.

Pennsylvania lost a seat in reapportionment, so political observers are closely watching this process. The current Pennsylvania delegation features a 9R-9D split, but this was after the state Supreme Court changed the map before the 2018 election, thus allowing the Democrats to gain three seats. The maps are in court because Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the Republican legislature’s plans.

Michigan House Action Wave

Michigan Congressional Redistricting Map. (Click on image to go to FiveThirtyEight.com to see interactive map.)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 3, 2022 — Though the Michigan congressional lines are in litigation and filing time is still more than two months away in preparation for the state’s August 2nd primary election, Tuesday was a busy day on the Wolverine State’s US House front.

First, in the paired Republican incumbent 4th District where Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) is seeking re-election and appears ready to face fellow Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), a third candidate announced that he would not abandon his own Republican campaign despite seeing an unfavorable district draw.

State Rep. Steve Carra (R-Portage) said that he intends to remain in the new 4th Congressional District race despite potentially having to face two incumbents and not having any of his current state House District lying in the new 4th. His legislative district will now be fully contained in Rep. Tim Walberg’s (R-Tipton) new 5th CD that stretches the width of Michigan along the state’s southern border. Carra earned former President Trump’s endorsement in his pre-redistricting bid against Rep. Upton.

When queried about the difficulty of the paired nomination race for a non-incumbent such as himself, Carra said, “It doesn’t matter whether there’s one or two status quo Republicans in the race.”

For his part, Rep. Upton is not yet committing to run for a 19th term, saying he wants to further study the new district and see whether the courts disqualify the current map. A group of current and former Democratic state legislators have filed suit against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission claiming the members violated the Voting Rights Act with their draw of the congressional and state legislative districts in Detroit and Wayne County.

The 4th District will be one of the most interesting primary campaigns in the state and possibly the nation if Huizenga and Upton ultimately face each other. With Carra coming to the race with the Trump endorsement and potentially testing just how much the ex-President’s support actually means, he becomes a wild card entry.

Another incumbent who did not fare well in the redistricting process is freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids). His 3rd District moves from an R+9 to a D+3 seat according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical site. Dave’s Redistricting App scores the CD at 50.1 percent Democratic and 46.5 percent Republican. President Biden would have carried the new 3rd, 53-45 percent. Therefore, Rep. Meijer, along with potential primary problems because he, too, voted in favor of the Trump impeachment, has a difficult political road ahead.

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Redistricting Challenges – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 26, 2022 — Yesterday, we covered the US House members whose districts have changed to the point of having seats where a majority of their new constituencies are unfamiliar. Today, we delve deeper.

To reiterate, a total of 28 states have now completed their redistricting process, and 41 incumbents seeking re-election in these places will be in new seats where a majority of the electorate has not previously seen their names on the congressional ballot.

Interestingly, many of the changes are positive for some of the members in question, because the new constituents are favorable to the incumbent’s party. Others, however, face potentially tough re-nomination or re-election battles, and some will see challenges coming from both Republicans and Democrats.

In 16 specific instances the outlook is seriously negative as nine Democratic members and five Republicans face major challenges toward continuing their congressional careers.

The members in the worst situations are those paired with another incumbent. Illinois Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) faces freshman Rep. Marie Newman (D-La Grange). Casten has only a quarter of the new Chicago suburban constituency as compared to Newman’s 42.9 percent carryover factor. Her home base in La Grange, however, is not included in the new 6th District.

Remaining in Illinois, neither paired Republican Reps. Mary Miller (R-Oakland) nor Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) have large constituencies in the new 15th CD. Rep. Miller has only a 34.7 percent carryover factor from the current 15th but is larger than her opponent’s, Mr. Davis, 30.8 percent figure coming from his 13th CD.

Michigan Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) has announced that he will run in his state’s new 4th District, meaning a pairing with veteran Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph). He has only 25.1 percent of his constituents in the new 4th as compared to Upton’s much stronger 68.8 percent carryover factor. Still, Rep. Upton says he is unsure as to whether he will seek re-election to a 19th term.

Staying in Michigan, Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomington Township) has decided to enter in a paired battle with Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills). He has only 26.7 percent of his current 9th District constituency in the new 11th CD as compared to Rep. Stevens’ having 46.1 percent coming from her current 11th District. Her home base of Rochester Hills, however, does not carryover, while Rep. Levin’s base in Bloomington Township becomes the anchor population in the new CD.

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Rep. Lawrence to Retire;
Open US House Seats Now Up to 44

By Jim Ellis

Four-term Michigan US Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield)

Jan. 7, 2022 — Four-term Michigan US Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) became the latest Democratic incumbent to announce her retirement. She is the 25th Dem to not seek re-election as compared to 11 Republicans.

Saying, “this is the right time to turn the page and spend more time with my family — my husband, daughter, son and granddaughter — and put them first,” Lawrence made official her decision not to seek a fifth term next year. She is 67 years old. Prior to her election to Congress, Lawrence served as Southfield’s mayor for 14 years. She is the only African American in the Michigan delegation and the lone Wolverine State Democrat to serve on the House Appropriations Committee.

It is speculated upon that the new Michigan map influenced her retirement decision, but Rep. Lawrence said she was confident of being able to be re-elected in the new 12th District. Though her home base of Southfield was included in MI-12, the cities of Dearborn, Westland, and the western part of Wayne County would have, for her, been foreign political turf.

In her closing comments to the Detroit Free Press newspaper, Rep. Lawrence said, “I’m incredibly grateful for the people of Michigan’s 14th Congressional District who have placed their trust in me — in me, a little Black girl from the east side of Detroit.”

The Lawrence decision greatly changes the Detroit area congressional campaigns. Immediately upon Rep. Lawrence announcing her retirement plans, neighboring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) declared that she will seek re-election in the 12th District, saying that she currently represents more of this CD than the downtown Detroit-anchored MI-13. This leaves the 13th open and will create a major Democratic primary battle. CD-13 is a majority African American district and heavily Democratic, meaning that winning the party primary is tantamount to election in November.

A group of current and former Detroit state legislators announced Wednesday that they are filing a lawsuit against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, saying the new congressional, state Senate, and state House of Representatives’ boundaries discriminate against black voters, and therefore violate the Voting Rights Act. If the lawsuit successfully overturns the Detroit district draws, new mapping instructions could be forced upon the commission before the 2022 election.

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Michigan’s Anti-Incumbent Map

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 5, 2022 — One of the biggest complaints most commonly aired about redistricting is that it favors incumbents, but such is not the case with the recently completed Wolverine State congressional map. In fact, the members of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission appear to have gone out of their way to upend the state’s sitting federal office holders.

The current 14-seat map features seven Democrats and seven Republicans with two of the seats converting from Republican to Democrat in the 2018 election. Michigan loses a seat in reapportionment, and it became apparent from the start that the Republicans would absorb the loss because a great deal of the population growth deficit was coming from the middle section of the lower peninsula.

That proved to be the case, but the cut was a bit different than expected. Considering the population deficit and Michigan’s geography, i.e., being surrounded by lakes, Canada, and other states, the most logical district for collapse appeared to be Rep. John Moolenaar’s (R-Midland) 4th District because it sat in the middle of the area that the population change clearly affected.

While the Moolenaar district was certainly altered in a significant manner, it was the western district of Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) that was broken into small pieces.

While true that Moolenaar was technically paired with Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flushing/Flint) because his home city of Midland was placed in the new 8th District, a new safe Republican 2nd CD that contains much of the current Moolenaar district lies available for him to the west. While Rep. Kildee sees his home Flint/Flushing area remaining intact, he finds himself in a more competitive seat and may be facing a challenge from former congressman, attorney general, state appellate judge, and ex-US Senate and gubernatorial GOP nominee Bill Schuette in a seat that can now conceivably elect a Republican.

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