Monday, June 20, 2011

It's redistricting time!

WOOD-TV 8 on YouTube: The Michigan Republicans released their plan to redraw congressional districts
Royal Oak Patch: Levin, Peters Slam Republicans for 'Gerrymandered' Plan for New Districts
Under the GOP proposal released Friday, the Royal Oak and Bloomfield Township Democrats would be put in the same district.
By Beth Reeber Valone

A Republican proposal for redistricting Michigan's U.S. Congressional districts would have the entire city represented by one congressman rather than two and lumps those current two reps – Democrats Sander Levin and Gary Peters – into one redrawn 9th District.

The plan released Friday essentially moves Peters of Bloomfield Township into the redrawn district of Royal Oak's Levin, which is mostly Levin's current 12th District of Macomb County with a small portion of Oakland County.
Peters and Levin quickly issued a joint statement Friday blasting the Republicans for the most “shamelessly partisan” plan the state has ever seen:

“Instead of drawing fair lines that follow community and county borders in a logical way, the Republican legislature has drafted a map so skewed that it exploits every trick in the book to gerrymander districts in ways that benefit Republican incumbents," the Congressmen's statement said. "The legislature and Governor Snyder should reject this gerrymandered map and draw congressional boundaries in a way that puts Michigan voters’ interests squarely ahead of flagrant partisan advantage."
I've seen this movie before. In 2002, the Republicans in the state legislature dealt with Michigan's losing a U.S. House seat by pitting the most junior Democratic Representative, Lynn Rivers, against the Dean of the House, John Dingell. Rivers was the only Democrat elected to the U.S. House in the Republican wave election of 1994, so they had it in for her. What happened then was that neither Rivers nor Dingell backed down, so they faced each other in a primary. I was rooting for Rivers, as she had been my representative when I lived in Ann Arbor, but I couldn't vote for her, as I was living in Lenawee County, which was in the 7th District. She could have used my vote, as she lost.

As for what's going to happen here, I'm taking a wait-and-see approach. I worked on Peters' campaign last year, but I've been holding off on contributing to him for 2012 until the dust has settled from redistricting. Because I like both candidates, I'm hoping the two of them make a decision for me so that I don't have to. Otherwise, I'm faced with a quandry. Do I support Peters because I've worked for him before and I think he's better for the future of the party in Michigan (he's the second youngest member of the Michigan Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House) or do I support Levin because he's more progressive and would be favored in what is really his old district? I don't know yet.

Allow me this aside about Rivers' election in 1994. It was a choice between her and a young Republican activist. My ex-wife, a staunch Republican, put pressure on me to not vote for Rivers. Her political motto was "No Dumb-dumb-crats in this house!" I really preferred Rivers, who was familiar to me because of her service on the Ann Arbor School Board, but decided to honor the letter of my ex-wife's demand by deliberately throwing a away my vote by casting it for the Libertarian candidate in the race. After we walked out of the polling place, she asked, "You didn't vote for any Democrats, did you?" I could truthfully answer yes. Not having to pull stunts like that is one of many good reasons I'm happy to no longer be married to that woman!

Aside over. I'm not the only one taking a wait-and-see attitude. According to the Detroit News, Peters' opponent in 2010 is as well.
Republican Andrew "Rocky" Raczkowski , who narrowly lost to U.S. Rep. Gary Peters in November, isn't so sure about running again for Congress in 2012.

"We'll see what happens," Raczkowski told Insider, noting he's focusing on his family.

Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, defeated Raczkowski 50 percent to 47 percent in November. Raczkowski said in January he'd "absolutely" try for a rematch if there is a winnable district after remapping.

Now, as Michigan lawmakers are redrawing the 15 congressional district lines to 14 due to population losses, the 9th District is looking like a political firestorm. A GOP draft plan first published by The News showed Peters' Oakland County district combining with that of Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, setting the stage for a possible incumbent showdown.

One likely Republican challenger, state Rep. Marty Knollenberg, is interested in taking back the seat lost by his father Joe in 2008. Knollenberg also sits on the state House's redistricting committee that helps redraw the district lines.
I don't think Marty McFly is going to take back the 9th District from either Democrat.

Redistricting is creating lesser controversies in state races as well.

Detroit News: GOP's Senate redistricting map weakens Detroit, Wayne County
Paul Egan/ Detroit News Lansing Bureau
Lansing — A loss of clout for Detroit and Wayne County is reflected in the Michigan Senate redistricting map drawn by state Republicans.

The map, first published and reported on by The News this morning, was released by the Michigan Senate shortly after noon today. It would result in significant changes in the boundary lines of most of the state's 38 Senate districts. Since the GOP controls both chambers of the Legislature and has a majority of nominees on the Michigan Supreme Court that could ultimately decide the issue, the map could closely reflect the changes ultimately made to account for population losses and shifts documented in the recent census.

Wayne County would drop to seven senators, from eight.

And for the first time, no Senate district would be wholly contained within the boundaries of the city of Detroit, meaning it would be possible to have a Michigan Legislature with no Detroit senators. The current Senate has four senators from Detroit, which over the last decade saw its population drop by 25 percent, from about 950,000 to less than 715,000.
The shoes aren't finished dropping. The Democrats will release their plan today. Good luck getting that one passed.

And, yes, I changed my mind from yesterday, when I thought I'd do the other story and save this one for later. It turns out this was the story that was ready, not the other one. I'll tackle that one later.

ETA: For my previous post on redistricting, click here and scroll down to the bottom of the post to the last article of the leftover linkspam. There you will find a link to an Oakland Press article and video explaining the process.

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