LANSING (WWJ) – In wake of the recent U.S. Census, state and congressional legislative districts are being redrawn in Michigan and across the country.
The population decline in Michigan, including a 25% drop in Detroit, will result in the loss of a seat in Congress. The most likely outcome is that two districts held by Democrats will be combined into one, according to Dr. John Clark, chair of the Western Michigan University Department of Political Science.
“Not all incumbents are going to be returned from office because we go from having 15 seats down to 14 seats. In this particular round of redistricting, the expectation is that two Democratic incumbents over on the East side of the state will have both of their districts drawn together essentially. So, only one of them, presumably, would be able to survive the Democratic Primary and one of the can return to Washington, one of them can go home.”
Clark said those two Democrats are Sander Levin and Gary Peters of Oakland County.
“The way things line up right now, there are two Democratic incumbents whose hometowns are very close together in Oakland County. So, it would be relatively easy without too much disruption to the rest of the state to redraw the district lines so that both of those democratic incumbents, Gary Peters and Sandy Levin, are living within the same congressional district. Now, it’s always possible for one of them to run in another district, but that’s somewhat unlikely.”
Clark explained, with a Republican controlled legislature and Republican Governor in Michigan, redistricting is very likely to favor the GOP.
“Sometimes when the legislature draws the districts, there’s a division of partisan control, either across legislative chambers or between the legislature and the Governor’s office. This time around, the whole process is controlled by Republicans, both houses of the general assembly and the Governor’s office. So, if we don’t see a plan that heavily favors Republicans for the U.S. House, for the state Senate and for the state House, not only will I be surprised, I’ll be downright shocked.”
Clark said the economy and state budget are the big issues right now and redistricting probably won’t draw much interest from the public, due to the fact that Republicans are so dominate in the state’s government. But redistricting is an issue that should be on everyone’s radar.
“It’s an issue that’s important for the future of Michigan elections, at least until the next census. Because of the way that the lines are drawn now, it’s going to affect the likelihood of various individual candidates winning various districts.”
Clark said even small shifts in district boundaries can have a big impact.