Category Archives: MICHIGAN

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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Michigan’s Redistricting Complexities

One of the draft Congressional maps put forward by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission for public review this week.

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.

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Michigan’s Lost Seat

Michigan Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 31, 2021 — Losing a congressional seat is nothing new to the Michigan delegation. Since the 1980 census, inclusive, the state has lost a district in every reapportionment and two in the 1990 iteration. Today, we continue our series about the states gaining and losing congressional districts under 2020 national reapportionment with a look at the Wolverine State.

Michigan is difficult to draw not only because of the consistent seat losses, but so many of the state’s districts abut immovable objects: i.e., an international or state border, or a body of water. Under the current map, 10 of Michigan’s 14 congressional districts at least partially border a country, state, or lake.

The Michigan per district population number for the 2020 census is a high 775,179 individuals. High per district resident numbers often occur when a state loses a seat. In this case, all of Michigan’s 14 districts must gain population, hence the underlying reason for another delegation reduction.

Another factor in making the state a rather unique draw for the new Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission that is tasked with creating the new congressional map for the initial time, is the areas needing to gain the most population lie in opposite ends of the state. This, added to the fact that over 70 percent of the current districts border an immovable object, means the 2021 redistricting process is a significant challenge for the eleven commissioners (4R; 3D; 4N) with no previous experience in drawing political maps.

The area with the largest population shortfall comes in the northern part of the state. Rep. Dale Kildee’s (D-Flushing/Flint) 5th District is the seat furthest away from the population quota, down 104,476 individuals. Directly to his west, Rep. John Moolenaar’s (R-Midland) 4th District is 77,325 people under quota, and to the north all the way to the Canadian border, Rep. Jack Bergman’s (R-Watersmeet) Upper Peninsula 1st District will require an additional 70,829 residents. Combined, these three seats are 252,630 people short of the population quota for three congressional districts.

The area in the second-most need of population is the city of Detroit. The two districts that encompass the city, Districts 13 (Rep. Rashida Tlaib-D) and 14 (Rep. Brenda Lawrence-D) are a combined 184,290 people short for a pair of districts. Because both CDs 13 and 14 and majority minority seats, it is more than probable that the commission won’t collapse these districts because of Voting Rights Act requirements.

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The Michigan Wild Card

Michigan Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

July 16, 2021 — For the third consecutive census, the Wolverine State of Michigan loses a congressional seat but this time it is more difficult to determine how the new map will be drawn and which of the state’s 14 US House members, comprised of seven Democrats and seven Republicans, will be the odd member out.

The big change is that for the first time a citizens’ commission, and not the state legislature, will draw the map. The 13-member commission has been conducting briefings to organizations around the state since April 3 and has public input meetings scheduled with those that began July 8 through Aug. 26.

What places Michigan in a wild card situation, however, won’t become clear until the US Census Bureau sends the state its individual tract data that will arrive on or around Aug. 15. At that point, the key question will be answered as to just how many people the city of Detroit has lost. This will be the critical factor in determining how the new congressional map is constructed.

Like every state, Michigan is bordered on all sides meaning the members with districts on the edge are typically in better defined position than those residing in the geographic middle. In this state’s case, the Great Lakes surround the split land masses on the north, east, and west, with Canada lying to its north and east, and Indiana and Ohio to the south.

Looking at the available public population data that only is current through July 1 of 2019, all current 14 districts must gain residents, hence the state losing a CD, with three most significantly holding the fewest people. Those three are the two Detroit seats, Districts 13 (Rep. Rashida Tlaib-D) and 14 (Rep. Brenda Lawrence-D), and the Flint-anchored seat, District 5 (Rep. Dan Kildee-D). All three are likely to need an influx of more than 100,000 people apiece.

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