Michigan's Redistricting News

 

 Slate Online: "Michigan Mashup: Tuesday's congressional election was decided years ago." August 7, 2002
 Detroit News: "Democrats bank on federal court to dump GOP redistricting plan." March 26, 2002
 Detroit News: "State Supreme Court upholds congressional redistricting plan." March 25, 2002
 Lansing State Journal: "Thanks to map, election is over." March 12, 2002
 Detroit News: "Incumbents Could Face Each Other By Lisa Zagaroli and Deb Price December 28, 2001
 Washington Post: "Politics Without the Voting." October 17, 2001
 Detroit News: "Democrats Offer Redistricting Plan to Counter GOP Advantage." October 17, 2001
 Detroit News: "New state districts official but Democrats may challenge."
September 13, 2001
 Detroit Free Press: "GOP Stands to Gain by Redistricting in Michigan." August 30, 2000

 Chicago Tribune: "Glitch in bill stalls redistricting plan." August 2, 2001
 The Detroit News: "Rep. Barcia feels pain of Republican redistricting plan despite moderate positions." July 29, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." July 16, 2001
 
Detroit Free Press: "Districts for state look less partisan." July 13, 2001
 Detroit Free Press: "Arab Americans fight redistricting: Republican proposal would split Dearborn; Dingell joins the battle." July 6, 2001
 
Associated Press: "House moves redistricting bill to conference committee." June 28, 2001  
 Associated Press: "Redistricting plan advances." June 27, 2001
 Detroit Free Press: "State Redistricting: Republicans guilty of more than partisanship; plan should be challenged." June 23, 2001
 Gongwer News Service: "GOP Redistricting Plan for House Passes."
June 21, 2001

More Information About Redistricting in Michigan from January 14, 2001 - June 20, 2001

Slate Online
Michigan Mash-Up: Tuesday's congressional election was decided years ago.
By William Saletan
August 7, 2002

On Tuesday, Rep. John Dingell, one of the most powerful and longest-serving Democrats in the House, defeated his colleague and nominal ally, Rep. Lynn Rivers, in a congressional primary in Michigan.

Reporters had flocked from Washington, D.C., to cover the race. Headlines around the country trumpet the results today, followed by analyses of the implications for guns, abortion, the environment, and other issues that separated the candidates. But the real story of this election isn't Dingell's victory, Rivers' defeat, or the role of this or that issue. The real story is how two Democratic members of Congress ended up running against each other.

When you read about an election such as the Dingell-Rivers race, you expect to find out what's going on between the candidates. You figure some things will change. Maybe he's up one week, maybe she's up the next. What you don't expect is a critical look at how we ended up with those two candidates. In the conventional math of political reporting, the candidates aren't variables. They're givens.

This tendency to focus on what's happening within the election's parameters, rather than on how and by whom the parameters were decided, is natural. But sometimes, it obscures a more interesting story. The most important political victories aren't waged and won while the contestĺ?"an election, a congressional debate, or a Supreme Court oral argumentĺ?"is formally underway. They're won in the unofficial contest to set the terms on which the official contest will be fought. In many respects, the battle is over before it begins.

That's what happened to Dingell and Rivers. Every 10 years, state legislatures draw new districts for local, state, and national elections. Because its share of the U.S. population declined, Michigan had to give up one of its 16 seats in the U.S. House. Democrats had nine of those seats; Republicans had seven. But Republicans controlled the Michigan state House and Senate as well as the governorship. So they rammed through the legislature a redistricting plan that forced Dingell and Rivers together in a single district. The GOP didn't have to beat either of these incumbents in an election. All it had to do was set up the election so that one of the two was bound to lose.

Third parties, independent voters, and dissident movements often complain that the two-party system prevents alternative candidates from being seriously considered in elections. But in those situations, the terms of the election are stable, and the limiting of choices is obvious. You may have wanted Ralph Nader to be given a better chance in the 2000 presidential election, for example, but at least the electorate

in that race was clearly defined, and Nader was clearly excluded from the debates. In races defined by redistricting, you don't get even that courtesy. The electorate for each congressional seat is changed by legislators in back rooms as they move district lines. And rather than being deprived of the ability to vote for your favorite candidate, you can be forced, as thousands of Michigan Democrats were on Tuesday, to vote one of your favorite incumbents out of office.

Many articles on the Dingell-Rivers race mention that redistricting threw them together. But the political background of redistricting isn't explained, and it's important. Two years ago, Michigan held elections for the 110 seats in its House of Representatives. The parties split 104 of those seats, 52-52. Two of the remaining races (Districts 37 and 99) were won by fewer than 1,000 votes; two others (Districts 56 and 81) were won by no more than 1,500 votes. If Democrats had won those seats, they would have controlled the House and blocked the GOP's redistricting plan. If they had won three of them, they would have held a tie. But they won none of them. By a grand total of 5,000 votes, the GOP won all four seats, controlled the House, and wrote the redistricting plan that forced the bewildered constituents of Dingell and Rivers to choose between them.

If you want to know why Lynn Rivers will be out of Congress come January, don't look at the election she just lost. Look at those neck-and-neck races for the Michigan House two years ago, look at the paltry voter turnout in local elections generally, and ask yourself why nobody pays attention until the script is written and the curtain goes up.

 

Detroit News
Democrats bank on federal court to dump GOP redistricting plan
By Gary Heinlein
March 26, 2002

Although the Republican-dominated Michigan Supreme Court upheld the Legislature's plan for redrawing the state's congressional districts, the real test is expected to come in federal court, Democratic Party leaders said.

"We're extremely disappointed," Michigan Democratic Party spokesmen Ben Kohrman said after the court's ruling. "We hope this gets a fair hearing in federal court."

The 6-1 decision by the court disposes of challenges made to the redistricting law at the state level. The Republican-dominated Legislature set the boundaries for 15 new congressional districts that would likely give the GOP eight or nine seats. That would reverse the 9-7 Democratic majority in the Michigan delation to the House of Representatives. The state is losing a seat because of U.S. population shifts.

The separate federal lawsuit, sponsored by Democratic members of Congress from Michigan, is pending in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

The state Supreme Court rejected Democrats' contention that the plan should be sent back to the Legislature because clerical corrections were made after it was passed by lawmakers. Democrats also contend that the plan doesn't fully conform to guidelines set in a 1999 law to minimize breaks in city, county and township boundaries.

"In the Legislature, they claimed that the legal rules 'forced' them to draw congressional districts harmful to Democrats," said U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn. "But in court, they defended their map on the basis that the legal rules are irrelevant."

Peter Ellsworth, who represented Republicans in the Michigan Supreme Court, predicted the outcome of the federal case will be no different. In the federal case, to be heard by a three-judge panel by the end of April, Democrats allege violation of the federal Voting Rights Act designed to protect minority voters from gerrymandering.

"Their evidence is very weak, and it's a very difficult thing to prove," Ellsworth said. "The courts tend to give deference to Legislatures."

You can reach Gary Heinlein at (517) 371-3660 or [email protected]

Detroit News
State Supreme Court upholds congressional redistricting plan
By Kathy Barks Hoffman
March 25, 2002

The Michigan Supreme Court has denied Democratic claims that a congressional redistricting map drawn up by Republicans should be thrown out because a Democratic plan more closely follows state law.

It also said corrections made to insert two census tracts inadvertently left out of the 15th District were not enough to make the plan invalid.

In a 6-1 decision released Monday, the court declined to review the plan redrawing Michigan's current 16 congressional districts into 15 new ones.

The new plan pits Democratic incumbents against each other in two districts this year: U.S. Rep. John Dingell of Dearborn against U.S. Rep. Lynn Rivers of Ann Arbor, and U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee of Flint against U.S. Rep. James Barcia of Bay City.

The plan, which could change the congressional delegation's 9-7 Democratic majority to a 9-6 Republican one, is still being challenged by Democrats in federal court. That case has not been resolved.

Democrats had argued in the state case that the redistricting plan was invalid because lawmakers who passed the new congressional plan last year violated 1999 redistricting rules that require the fewest possible breaks in county, city and municipal lines when redrawing districts.

The GOP congressional plan has 11 places where a county is not wholly within one district and 14 cities or townships that are split between districts. Democrats drew up a competing plan that has 10 county breaks and 12 cities or townships split between districts.

"I expect the Republicans to follow the law. If they follow the law, they'll adopt this plan," state Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer said last fall when the Democratic plan was released. "This was drawn to have fewer breaks."

That argument wasn't accepted by the court majority.

"The redistricting guidelines in (the 1999 law) ... were not binding on the Legislature in adopting the 2001 redistricting plan," so they are not a basis for challenging the plan, the justices said.

The justices also said corrections made by Senate Secretary Carol Viventi to replace the missing census tracts containing 4,578 people before Gov. John Engler signed the plan into law were technical changes that did not invalidate the statute.

State Democratic spokesman Ben Kohrman said Brewer was studying the decision and would release a statement later Monday.

State Republican spokesman Jason Brewer, no relation to Mark Brewer, said the state court decision validated GOP contentions that the plan was fair.

"The state ruling is a pretty clear indication of where the federal court will come down as well," he said. "We're ready for the election with these lines."

Michigan's congressional delegation drops from 16 seats to 15 seats this year because its population grew more slowly than some other states between 1990 and 2000. New congressional, legislative and judicial lines are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population shifts.

All five of the Supreme Court's GOP-nominated justices -- Maura Corrigan, Elizabeth Weaver, Clifford Taylor, Robert Young and Stephen Markman -- voted to deny the application for review, while its two Democratic-nominated justices split on the issue.

Justice Michael Cavanagh concurred with the majority that Viventi's corrections were OK. Justice Marilyn Kelly disagreed, saying the bill that Engler signed was not the one passed by the Legislature.

The case is LeRoux v. Secretary of State, Docket No. 120338.

On the Net:
GOP redistricting plan that's now law, http://www.gongwer.com/census.html
Democratic redistricting plan, http://www.mi-democrats.com/congressredist.htm

Lansing State Journal
Thanks to map, election is over; Boundary tweaking has helped make Rogers a shoo-in
By Derek Melot
March 12, 2002

Times are good for Congressman Mike Rogers.

He has roughly twice as much money in the bank as he did at this point two years ago. His press coverage is favorable. He's apparently popular.

Best of all, he doesn't even have an announced Democratic opponent for the coming election.

All this for a man who won his seat by a few dozen votes in one of the closest congressional races in the country in 2000.

Political times have changed, but not that much. Rather, it's a map that has transformed Rogers from narrow victor to secure incumbent; the same map in Michigan and other states that has all but disenfranchised most American voters.

These maps are the boundaries of America's 435 congressional districts, which are redrawn every 10 years to follow population growth and shifts. The Constitution requires that each congressional district contain roughly the same number of voters. The federal courts have said districts can't be drawn intentionally to minimize the voting strength of ethnic minorities.

After that, the states are pretty much on their own. Therein lies the problem.

The practice is called "gerrymandering," and it is the use of political boundaries to maximize a political party's advantage. Michigan may be a state where the Democratic nominees for president and U.S. Senate won in hair-raising fashion in 2000, but most of its members of Congress never break a sweat.

Mid-Michigan Republican Dave Camp of the Fourth District won two-thirds of the vote in his district in 2000; Democrat John Conyers of Detroit won 9 out of 10 in his.

That was under the old map, in which Rogers had to fight every day to win the "open" 8th District seat.

Empowered with incumbency, Rogers would be a formidable contender this year anyway. But his GOP friends in the state Legislature gave him help. They added more "Republican" areas to the district, tipping the scales in their favor - and making Rogers an all-but-certain winner this fall.

Now, the Democratic Party will tell you it plans to field a "very competitive" candidate. Uh-huh.

Rogers won in 2000 against a Democrat (Dianne Byrum) who had raised close to $1 million by this time. Now, the Democrats can't even get someone to announce. (They have launched a legal fight against the congressional map, though.)

Nope, the election here is over, just as it is in 400 or so of the 435 districts nationwide.

For those who agree with the majorities in those districts, that's no big deal. And there are good congressmen, of both parties, who come out of these uncompetitive districts.

But before returning to their political slumbers, voters should ask themselves a few questions:

Is it better for a lawmaker to be all but guaranteed re-election each time?

Will such a lawmaker spend less time or more listening to voters who are not his party's stalwarts?

Will the influence of Washington lobbyists and campaign contributions be less or more because the lawmaker doesn't have to worry as much about what's happening back home?

Politicians hate tough campaigns. Voters should love them - and fight any practice that gives a pol, of any persuasion, an easier ride.

What do you think? Write Derek Melot, Lansing State Journal, 120 E. Lenawee, Lansing, MI 48919.

Detroit News
Incumbents Could Face Each Other
By Lisa Zagaroli and Deb Price
December 28, 2001

Both Democrats and Republicans are anxiously awaiting the results of a court review of GOP-drawn electoral districts that could pit seasoned lawmakers against one another.

Because of the redistricting that's done every decade, Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn and the longest serving member of the House, would face a primary battle against Rep. Lynn Rivers, D-Ann Arbor, and Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint, might have to face off with Rep. James Barcia, D-Bay City.

Dingell won the last time he was pitted against an incumbent due to redistricting -- John Lesinkski in 1964.

Both Dingell and Rivers say they're running, and they aren't switching districts to avoid each other.

"I'll run in whatever district Ann Arbor is drawn into," Rivers said. "I'm not moving, and I'm not running for any state office -- those are two rumors you could please put a stake through the heart of."

Dingell said he too has no intention of moving or leaving Congress.

"I run 19 percent ahead of the ticket, which is, I think, acceptable political performance," Dingell said.

That kind of run-off is one way that Michigan could lose some of its influence in Congress, at least in the short term.

If 23-term Dingell loses, Michigan would be without the voice of the longest serving member in the House and the ranking Democrat on the influential Energy and Commerce Committee, which has enormous jurisdiction over matters such as fuel efficiency and investigations like the Ford-Firestone tire problem.

Four-term Rivers, meanwhile, serves on the House Science Committee's environment and research subcommittees and is a strong advocate for medical and science research, which helps Michigan's universities.

Dan Farough, political director of the Sierra Club's Michigan chapter, laments the loss of either.

"We are always faced with rollbacks on clean water regulations, for example," he said. "These are crucial votes that have major impact on Michigan's water quality."

Kildee says he will run as long as "God and the voters" are amenable, while Barcia has said he'll make a decision after the court ruling, expected as soon as next month.

Washington Post
Politics Without the Voting
By David S. Broder
October 17, 2001

Out of sight but not out of mind is the apt description for politics in America at this moment. The focus on terrorism has made partisanship unfashionable.

Candidates for mayor in cities across the country and for governor in New Jersey and Virginia, the two states holding elections next month, are debating as usual about taxes and transportation, crime and corruption, whether the public is listening or not.

On Capitol Hill, the old squabbles over economic policy and the role of government are beginning to resurface after a month of unusual unity following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But the most consequential political strugglesˇthe ones with long-lasting effectsˇare taking place largely unnoticed by most citizens. These are the battles over redistricting that will literally set the lines of electoral advantage for the next decade.

I was reminded of this reality the other day here when I saw Michigan state Sen. Dianne Byrum. Byrum was the Democratic nominee in a race for the House of Representatives that I had covered last yearˇa classic open-seat contest in which she ultimately lost to Republican Mike Rogers by a scant 160 votes.

The Rogers-Byrum race in the district formerly held by Democrat Deborah Stabenow, now a U.S. senator, was so competitive and so vital to both parties that it became the center of national attention and fund-raising. It is exactly the kind of race where one would expect a rematch. But when I asked Byrum if she was planning to run again next year, she said, ýAbsolutely not.ţ

She will be term-limited out of her state Senate seat in 2002, she said, so she is considering three options. She may seek statewide office, step back and run for the Michigan house of representatives, or retire to private life until another political opportunity opens.

Why not run against Rogers again? Because, she said, a Republican redistricting plan has boosted the GOP voting strength by about 5 percent, making the once-competitive seat almost safe for the incumbent.

That same plan so radically redrew the home district of the No. 2 Democrat in the House, Minority Whip David Bonior, that Bonior has decided to end his House career and jump into a three-way primary for governor. And it also altered the territory of the senior House Democrat, John Dingell, sending him away from his familiar blue-collar, labor constituents in Down River Detroit and into the independent, academic high-tech atmosphere of Ann Arbor.

Thus the political fortunes of many incumbents and potential challengersˇand the future representation of millions of citizensˇhave been altered without a single vote being cast. Similar changes occur every 10 years, when the post-Census remapping of the House takes place. But this time around, few other than the politicians are paying attention. Worries about terrorism and anthrax put everything else in the shadow.

And yet, because the parties are so even in strength, the line-drawing taking place now may well determine whether the House of Representatives has a Republican or Democratic majority, not just for two years but for the next decade. Whichever party can gain an edge in the current redistricting will have an immense advantage.

Ironically, the final word in this vital political struggle is often held by unelected officialsˇfederal judges. This week, for example, a three-judge federal court is scheduled to hear a dispute on the new congressional map for Texas.

Partisan stalemate in the legislature left it up to District Judge Paul Davis, a Democrat who had decided not to seek reelection to the state bench, to draw the first, provisional version of the 32 districts Texas will have for the next decadeˇtwo more than its current delegation. In early October Davis had sketched a map that would have forced five Democratic incumbents either to run in Republican-leaning districts or face each other. It would have virtually guaranteed Republicans, who now hold 13 of the 30 seats, a majority in the delegation.

But after a week of complaints from Hispanic groups, who claimed they were being denied proper representation, and pressure from Democrats, who said his map would doom their efforts to recapture the House, Judge Davis redrew his plan. The new version protects almost all incumbents and makes it likely the Democrats will emerge with either their current 17 seats or one more. Now the Republicans are crying foul.

Similar schemes are playing out in a couple dozen other states, usually for smaller but still vital stakes. Virtually unnoticed, politics go right on.

Detroit News
Democrats Offer Redistricting Plan to Counter GOP Advantage; Their proposal puts 2 Republican veterans in the same district
By Mark Hornbeck
October 17, 2001

Michigan Democrats pulled the wraps off a last-minute redistricting plan Tuesday that would give them an 8-7 edge in the state's congressional delegation.

The reworked map pits two pairs of currently serving Republicans together, including U.S. Rep. Joseph Knollenberg of Bloomfield Township and Rep. Mike Rogers of Brighton in a district that takes in most of Oakland and Livingston counties.

Congressmen Fred Upton of St. Joseph and Peter Hoekstra of Holland also would be tossed together in a west Michigan district.

The Democratic plan comes more than a month after Gov. John Engler signed a redistricting map drawn up by Republican lawmakers that would put Democratic members of Congress together in two districts and could give the GOP a 9-6 edge in the delegation. Democrats currently hold a 9-7 margin.

State Republican leaders said they have no intention of taking up the Democrats' plan before the Nov. 1 deadline. Experts said the Democrats likely intend to use their version of the congressional boundaries to contest the GOP plan in court.

"They have to find a judge willing to overturn the will of the people, and that's not a slam dunk," said Ed Sarpolus, Lansing-based pollster and redistricting expert.

Democrats already are challenging the Republican plan in federal district court.

State Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said state law requires the Legislature to adopt the Democrats' map because it splits up fewer counties, cities and townships than the Republican version.

"The statute requires that we adopt the plan that has as few county and municipal breaks as possible," Brewer said. "I expect the Republicans to follow the law."

Brewer said it was just "a fortuity" that their map merged Republican rather than Democratic districts.

Michigan will lose a congressional seat in 2002, dropping from 16 to 15, because its population grew more slowly than southern and western states between 1990 and 2000.

Senate Democratic Leader John Cherry of Clio and House Democratic Leader Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit plan to introduce the legislation.

You can reach Mark Hornbeck at (517) 371-3660 or [email protected] .

Detroit News
New state districts official but Democrats may challenge
September 13, 2001

New lines for Michigan's congressional, legislative and judicial districts become official now that Gov. John Engler has signed them into law.

The plans face a possible challenge from the Michigan Democratic Party, especially since the Legislature approved a congressional plan that left out descriptions of several census tracts.

Before the plan went to Engler, state Senate Secretary Carol Viventi inserted the tracts that had been missing from the 15th District ˝ a mistake that omitted 4,578 residents of Monroe County and parts of Wayne and Washtenaw counties.

Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said Wednesday that he's still looking over the bills for technical errors and hasn't decided if the party will file a lawsuit. Engler signed the bills Tuesday.

Democrats have said the lines drawn by the Republican-controlled House and Senate are designed to give Republicans a larger share of the congressional, legislative and judicial seats.

Michigan will lose a congressional seat in 2002, dropping from 16 to 15, because its population grew more slowly than some other states between 1990 and 2000.

The congressional delegation, controlled 9-7 by Democrats, could switch to a 9-6 GOP majority under the plan. It pits Democratic U.S. Reps. Dale Kildee of Flint and Jim Barcia of Bay City against each other, and does the same to Democratic U.S. Reps. Dingell and Lynn Rivers of Ann Arbor.

Democratic Rep. Sander Levin of Royal Oak would be in the same district as Democratic U.S. Rep. David Bonior of Mount Clemens, although Bonior is running for governor. A group of mostly Democrats filed a federal lawsuit July 11, charging that the congressional redistricting plan is gerrymandering.

The errors discovered in the bills caused a two-month delay in getting them to Engler for his signature. At one point, lawmakers thought they would have to fix the plans, then vote on them again.

Viventi said the Legislature's rules allow her to correct obvious technical errors.

"I looked at it and thought, There isn't any question here for the Legislature,' " Viventi said. "This one is very clear."

The legislative plan was sent along to Engler without including two missing tracts that don't have any people, State House Clerk Gary Randall told Gongwer News Service, a Lansing-based newsletter that covers state government and politics.

The Democrats don't have a deadline if they want to file a federal lawsuit over the plans. But they must file a lawsuit in state court within 60 days, Brewer said.

Engler spokeswoman Susan Shafer said the governor thinks the Legislature did a good job with the complicated job of redistricting, which is done every decade after the U.S. Census.

Detroit Free Press
GOP Stands to Gain by Redistricting in Michigan; Congressional Seats at Stake
By Craig Linder
August 30, 2000

Michigan's Democratic members of Congress could find their numbers shrinking after the state redraws its congressional districts, said a report released Tuesday.

Republican control of both houses of the Legislature and the governor's office puts the GOP "in good shape to monopolize the redistricting in 2001, which could spell trouble for congressional Democrats in the state," said the analysis by the Center for Voting and Democracy.

The center, a nonpartisan group that researches voting systems and participation, issued the study as part of an analysis of the competitive landscape for the November elections and beyond.

"There are probably three, four, five districts in Michigan that could be drawn to become more Republican," said Eric Olson, the center's deputy director. As a result, he said, Republicans could control 10 or 11 of Michigan's 16 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2002 elections, up from the six they now hold.

States must review their congressional districts each decade after the census to ensure equal representation. Any plan to redraw congressional districts in Michigan must be approved by the state Senate, the state House and Gov. John Engler.

Political analysts say Michigan is likely to lose at least one congressional seat to redistricting. Its population is growing, but not as fast as California, Texas and some other states.

As long as Republicans maintain their state House majority in November, the GOP would control the redistricting process. And the party in control of the process, Olson said, often uses its position to score political gains at the expense of the minority party.

"You see a process of slicing, of dicing, of maneuvering the electorate to get some result," said Robert Richie, the center's executive director.

For their part, though, state Republicans have not begun developing a redistricting strategy, waiting to see whether they retain control of the state House after the elections, said Denise DeCook, communications director for Republicans in the state Senate. "At this point, it's kind of like a crapshoot," she said.

If Democrats gain control of the state House, the reapportionment process would likely become stalled between the House and Senate, Michigan State University Professor David Rohde said. In that case, he said, the federal courts would probably oversee the process, as they did following the 1990 census.

If the Democrats don't win the four seats that they need to take a majority in the state House, Republicans could focus on Democrats in the Detroit suburbs.

Democrats like Reps. David Bonior of Mt. Clemens and Sander Levin of Royal Oak would be among targets, Olson said, calling Bonior "a huge target for Republicans" because of his position as House Democratic whip.

For more information, go to the Center for Voting and Democracy's Web site, www.igc.org/cvd.

Chicago Tribune
Glitch in bill stalls redistricting plan

August 2, 2001

Legislative leaders scrambled Wednesday to fix an apparent glitch in a bill that redraws congressional districts in Michigan.

Reapportionment experts said the bill passed by the Legislature omits technical descriptions of several census tracts in the 15th District, which covers Monroe County and parts of Wayne and Washtenaw Counties.

They said the mistake doesn't change the map outlining Michigan's 15 congressional districts. But they added that Republican leaders don't want to give Democrats any ammunition for a lawsuit filed July 11 that challenges the reapportionment plan.

Lawmakers are discussing whether to have the Senate secretary and House clerk correct the bill before sending it to Gov. John Engler for his signature, or to pass a new bill that includes the missing tracts when the Legislature returns in September. Engler has until Nov. 1 to approve the redistricting.

The mistake incensed U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat from Dearborn, who said the error excludes 4,578 people in the proposed district.

"In a plan rammed through in the wee hours of the morning . . . they have disenfranchised more than 4,500 citizens," Dingell said in a news release.

The Detroit News
Rep. Barcia feels pain of Republican redistricting plan despite moderate positions
By George Weeks
July 29, 2001

U.S. Rep. Jim Barcia of Bay City, Michigan's most moderate Democrat on Capitol Hill, wins by big margins and delivers big for the state by working effectively with Republicans.

He won the praise of Gov. John Engler for teaming with Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, a fellow member of the House Transportation Committee, to change the federal funding formula to boost Michigan's road money by about $300 million a year. On Friday, Barcia co-authored an amendment that would mean more funding to cope with Great Lakes sewer overflow problems.

Michigan's newest House member, Republican Mike Rogers of Brighton, calls Barcia "a quality guy doing a darn good job."

But Barcia is a Democrat.

The GOP-ruled Legislature adopted a congressional redistricting plan that throws Barcia in a district with 13-term Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint. It takes away from Barcia the heavily agricultural counties in the Thumb that he has ably served since 1993.

Nothing personal. Because of population shifts, Michigan is losing one of its 16 congressional seats. Republicans did what Democrats would have done had they controlled the pen.

They made sure the lost seat cost the other party. Barcia himself notes "If the shoe were on the other foot, we would be doing the same thing."

Republicans also met their two priorities. One was to draw a more favorable district for Rogers, who won by a mere 111 votes in a recount, in an open seat that had been held by now-U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing.

The other priority was to draw a seat highly favorable to Secretary of State Candice Miller. Republicans did that by carving the 10th District, now held by Rep. David Bonior, D-Mt. Clemens, to include the northern two-thirds of Macomb County, St. Clair County, and three counties now represented all or in part by Barcia: Lapeer, Sanilac and Huron.

There has been speculation that if Barcia decides to back away from a 5th District match-up with Kildee, he might run again for the state Senate, where he served 10 years.

There also has been speculation, fanned by those close to him, that Barcia might run in the new 10th district that was drawn for Miller. But he categorically ruled that out Friday, vowing "I will not move out of Bay County. It is my political anchor."

As a statewide candidate, Miller has run well in the Thumb. But there is some discomfort in the agricultural community there about losing Barcia as an advocate.

In a column headlined "Who wants a rep named Candy?," Publisher Emeritus Brett McLaughlin of the Tuscola County Advertiser wrote of an earlier GOP redistricting proposal: "not only would we lose a representative who knows agricultural issues, but we would be bunkered up with metropolitan Detroit."

He called Miller "a pretty good secretary of state, but you gotta wonder what she knows about protecting the county's sugar industry or fashioning a farm bill."

On the other hand, a rep named Candy seems appropriate for the sugar industry.

What finally passed did not put Tuscola County in the 10th with the other Thumb counties. The final districting awaits the outcome of a Democratic federal court challenge of the Legislature's plan.

However this is resolved, it would be a shame if Michigan lost "a quality guy doing a darned good job" in Washington.

George Weeks is The News' political columnist. Reach him at (517) 371-3660 or [email protected] .

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
July 16, 2001

Going to Court.

The GOP-led Legislature in Michigan voted along party lines to approve a House map last week that could force six Democratic incumbents to face-off in three primaries, but Democrats have already filed a court challenge to the plan.

The Republican plan would pit Democratic Reps. John Dingell and Lynn Rivers against each other in a district that favors Dingell; Dale Kildee against James Barcia in a seat that favors Kildee; and Sander Levin against David Bonior. Bonior, the Minority Whip, is retiring to run for governor in 2002.

Gov. John Engler (R) has said he will sign the redistricting bill. Republicans were able to target so many Democrats in part because Michigan's 16-Member delegation lost a House seat in reapportionment.

Last Wednesday a group of mostly Democrats filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Detroit challenging the plan, which experts say could switch the state's House delegation from 9-to-7 Democratic to 9-to-6 Republican. Tom Lewand, an aide of then Gov. James Blanchard (D), is the lead attorney for the Democrats.

Detroit Free Press
Districts for state look less partisan
Chris Christoff
July 13, 2001

Lawmakers finished the final pieces Thursday of political districts that will shape the Legislature for the next decade.

New boundaries for House and Senate districts were sent to Gov. John Engler for his signature, with Democrats declaring rare victories.

Wednesday, the Legislature approved new congressional districts for Michigan. Democrats pounced on that plan with a lawsuit claiming it is unfairly tilted to Republicans, but the House and Senate plans that take effect in 2002 brought muted protest Thursday and no hints of legal action.

State Senate districts are less likely to enlarge Republicans' majority than many had predicted, Democrats said. The compromise plan gives Democrats a better chance of winning in some districts than a Republican-drawn plan that appeared to be on a fast track.

Detroit, however, will lose two House seats -- from 13 to 11 -- and will lose one Senate seat. Those losses come because of the city's loss of population shown by the 2000 census.

Two Detroit Senate districts will reach into Dearborn, Dearborn Heights and Inkster, creating a more mixed constituency of black and white voters.

House Minority Leader Kwame Kilpatrick, D-Detroit, said it was too early to talk about legal challenges to the new House districts. However, he expressed concern that the new map dilutes African-American voters' clout, particularly in the two Senate districts that combine Detroit with western Wayne County suburbs.

Perhaps the oddest configuration is a new L-shaped Wayne County Senate district that stretches from Northville to Grosse Ile.

A new 20th House District in western Wayne County will connect Plymouth, Plymouth Township, Northville and Wayne with a skinny, 12-mile strip along I-275.

In Macomb County, Republicans will have a better shot at capturing two of three Senate districts. Democrats now hold two of three Macomb Senate seats.

The completion of legislative districts ended weeks of acrimonious debate. Republicans, who control both chambers, kept their plans hidden, and Democrats had accused them of gerrymandering maps that would guarantee the GOP lopsided control of the state for years to come.

"Democrats did better than anyone expected in a Republican-controlled process," said Ed Sarpolus, a Lansing expert on redistricting.

He said Senate Democrats fashioned a competing Senate plan that more closely followed state and federal rules. Those rules require districts statewide to cross as few county and city borders as possible, and to maintain as many districts as possible with a majority of African-American and other minority voters.

To avoid a court challenge, Republicans were forced to adopt portions of the Democratic plan.

Most significantly, 16 House districts could continue to be represented by African Americans, even though Detroit would lose two districts in predominantly black neighborhoods.

Republicans now control the Senate with a 22-15 majority over Democrats, with one vacancy. Two scenarios could help the Democrats offset Republican gains, or even increase their number of Senate seats:

  • A new Thumb district could go from Republican to Democratic hands if U.S. Rep. James Barcia, D-Bay City, decides to run for the seat.

    Barcia otherwise would have to run against fellow Democratic Congressman Dale Kildee of Flint in a newly drawn congressional district next year. Barcia has said he will wait to see if a court challenge changes it.

  • A new district with Calhoun and Jackson counties would give state Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, a good chance at winning a seat in an area now partially represented by Battle Creek Republican Sen. John Schwarz.

    Sarpolus said, overall, the new House and Senate districts further concentrate Republican voters in Republican districts, and shift more moderate and independent voters into Democratic strongholds.

    Contact CHRIS CHRISTOFF at 517-372-8660 or at [email protected].



    Detroit Free Press
    Arab Americans fight redistricting: Republican proposal would split Dearborn; Dingell joins the battle
    By Niraj Warikoo
    July 6, 2001

    Visit the Web home page of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat, and you'll notice Arabic script.

    "Welcome" it says, with a link to issues concerning Arab Americans.

    It's a sign that officials representing Dearborn have made it a point to address a community that is the largest of its kind in the United States.

    But a state redistricting plan by Republican leaders could weaken their emerging power, said a group of Arab-American leaders Thursday.

    They gathered at a social service agency in Dearborn to protest the plan. The proposal is being hashed out in conference committee in the Legislature.

    The proposal would divide Dearborn into two districts. About one-third of the city's 98,000 residents are Arab Americans.

    "This will take a growing, active community and undermine it," said Ismael Ahmed, executive director of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, based in Dearborn. "This is the heart of Arab-American political activity nationally and this plan would cut it out."

    Dingell agreed, saying that the plan would "split Dearborn in half, shattering decades of tradition and friendships, community and cooperation."

    Michigan will have 15 congressional districts under the new plan -- one less than the state currently has. That, along with the fact that Detroit lost population, means the two Detroit-based congressional districts have to become larger.

    The redistricting process occurs every 10 years, and is based on the census. Gov. John Engler, a Republican, has to sign legislation redrawing legislative, congressional and judicial lines by Nov. 1.

    The Arab-American leaders said Thursday that the plan would violate civil rights laws by weakening an ethnic minority group that deserves to be protected.

    Nasser Beydoun, executive director of the American-Arab Chamber of Commerce, said that Arab Americans might file a federal lawsuit.

    Michigan Democrats have also said they might challenge the redistricting plan in court.

    Contact NIRAJ WARIKOO at 734-432-6501 or [email protected].

    Associated Press
    House moves redistricting bill to conference committee
    June 28, 2001  

    A plan to redraw the state's legislative districts is on its way to a conference committee after the state House voted Thursday against changes the Senate made to its original plan.

    After brief consideration, Republicans and Democrats voted together against the newly changed bill that would redraw the lines of 38 Senate districts and 110 House districts. The Senate approved the changes on Tuesday.

    The redistricting process occurs every 10 years, and is based on the 2000 census. Gov. John Engler has to sign legislation redrawing legislative, congressional and judicial lines by Nov. 1.

    The Michigan Constitution prevented the House Thursday from taking up a separate bill that would redraw congressional and Court of Appeals district lines. House members have to wait five days before acting on legislation approved by the Senate.

    But the five-day law doesn't prohibit legislators from acting on bills that started in their chamber, allowing the House to vote on the state legislative bill sponsored by Rep. Andrew Richner, R-Grosse Pointe Park.

    Richner was the only House member to comment on the legislation, merely asking his colleagues to send the bill to a conference committee where House and Senate lawmakers will work out their differences.

    Lawmakers have next week off for the Fourth of July.

    The redistricting plan on its way to the House-Senate conference committee favors continued Republican-control in Lansing.

    The GOP now has a 22-15 majority in the Senate with one vacancy. Under that chamber's proposal, Republicans could hold at least 19 seats with a shot at 25.

    In the House, Republican control could jump from 57 to 63 under the GOP's reapportionment plan.

    Michigan Democrats will likely challenge the plans in court, alleging violations of state and federal laws that restrict the way district lines can be drawn.

    Some of the changes included in the reapportionment plans to be taken up by the conference committee include:

    -- State Senate: The 38th District would spread eastward in the Upper Peninsula; the 35th District would run from Leelanau County to part of Kent County; the 36th and 34th districts would cut a swath out of central Lower Michigan.

    -- State House: The Republican plan doesn't include overwhelming changes, but it would provide for significant differences in several of the districts in Detroit and the counties of St. Clair, Genesee and Isabella.

     The legislative reapportionment bill is House Bill 4965.

    On the Net:

    State House GOP reapportionment maps: http://www.gophouse.com

    Senate maps: http://www.Senate.state.mi.US/GOP/redistricting/index.html

    Associated Press
    Redistricting plan advances
    June 27, 2001

    A redistricting plan that Republicans hope will assure them of majorities in Lansing and Washington for a decade is nearing final legislative approval.

    And a reapportionment expert says the plan that cleared the Senate Tuesday night gives hope to the GOP that it can win solid majorities in Michigan's congressional delegation and in the state House and Senate.

    "This has been going on for years. Right now, the Republicans have the pen," Ed Sarpolus, vice president of EPIC/MRA, a Lansing polling company, said Wednesday.

    Sarpolus, who studies reapportionment plans, said the GOP used its pen to draft districts where Democrats are concentrated in certain urban areas.

    The result, experts say, is that they control those districts heavily, while more spread-out Republicans control more outlying districts by narrower margins.

    "Their voters are suburban and rural voters," said Robert LaBrant, senior vice president and general counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

    Thus Michigan, which Democrats claim is almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, elect more Republicans under the GOP plans.

    "By packing Democrats into selective districts, you reduce the influence they can have in other districts," Sarpolus said.

    Sarpolus said the reapportionment plan passed by the Senate would likely result in the following:

    -- Congress -- Now 9-7 Democratic, Michigan's delegation would become 9-6 Republican. The state lost one seat in the new census.

    -- State Senate -- Now 22-15 Republican with one vacancy in a GOP district, Republicans should hold at least 19 seats with a shot at 25.

    -- State House -- Now 57-52 Republican with a vacancy in a GOP district, Republicans should be favored in 63 districts.

    The redistricting struggle now returns to the House, with Senate leaders saying the legislative plan is likely to go to a House-Senate conference committee. With Republican Gov. John Engler expected to sign the legislation, the GOP is in a commanding position.

    "There may be some technical problems in the House plan," said Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow, R-Port Huron, referring to a House-passed plan included in the Senate bill Tuesday.

    But he downplayed the idea that the redistricting plan favors Republicans, and said the federal voters rights act and state law limited the GOP's ability to draft favorable district lines.

    "You can't guarantee those things," he said. "It's a competitive state. We're going to follow the law, period."

    LaBrant said Democrats, who used to control both chambers of the Legislature, will return to power.

    "Politics is cyclical. ... Eventually the pendulum will shift back to the Democrats," he said.

    The reapportionment plans, as passed by the Senate late Tuesday night, call for:

    -- Congress: Two pairs of Democratic incumbents would be pitted against each other: Reps. Dale Kildee of Flint and Jim Barcia of Bay City, and Reps. John Dingell of Dearborn and Lynn Rivers of Ann Arbor. It also would put Rep. David Bonior of Mount Clemens in the same district as Rep. Sander Levin of Royal Oak, although Bonior is running for governor.

    -- State Senate: The 38th District would spread eastward in the Upper Peninsula; the 35th District would run from Leelanau County to part of Kent County; the 36th and 34th districts would cut a swath out of central Lower Michigan.

    -- State House: The Republican plan doesn't include overwhelming changes, but it would provide for significant differences in several of the districts in Detroit and the counties of St. Clair, Genesee and Isabella.

    The congressional reapportionment bill is Senate Bill 546; the Court of Appeals reapportionment bill is Senate Bill 545; the legislative reapportionment bill is House Bill 4965.

    On the Net:

    State House GOP reapportionment maps: http://www.gophouse.com

    Senate maps: http://www.Senate.state.mi.US/GOP/redistricting/index.html

    Detroit Free Press
    State Redistricting: Republicans guilty of more than partisanship; plan should be challenged
    June 23, 2001

    Redrawing boundaries can be political hardball at its worst. Control of the Legislature and congressional delegation often hinges on whose plan prevails.

    So state Democrats knew not to expect much when the Republican-led House met this week to vote on proposed redistricting based on the 2000 census. And they didn't get much either.

    On a straight 57-51 party-line vote only hours after their plan was unveiled, House Republicans approved a version that more than likely will add at least five seats to their already formidable edge. The Senate Republicans are expected to hammer out a very similar plan soon.

    Because the Republicans control every branch of government, the only thing Democrats can do is take the plan to court, arguing that it unfairly gerrymanders minority or heavily Democratic districts. And sue they should.

    Even independent observers have been surprised at the raw partisanship of Republican House leaders. Keeping their plan under wraps until the last minute was tactically shrewd, but politically cynical, preventing not only Democrats but also the general public from being able to digest fully what they were doing.

    Whether it was to prevent intraparty bickering or to undermine opposition, failing to allow adequate input on the reapportionment process was offensive. Citizens deserve a fair and honest debate on how their votes are shuffled.

    Gongwer News Service
    G.O.P. Redistricting Plan for House Passes

    June 21, 2001

    House Republicans approved a plan for redrawing the state House's 110 district boundaries Thursday, making scores of changes to the existing political map that would help them fortify their 57-52 majority in the lower chamber. ---- It is House Bill 4965. Gerrymander maps likely tomorrow in the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press.

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