The Associated Press: "GOP panel OK's Dems' redistrict plan."
June 20, 2001
A Republican-controlled state House committee Tuesday signed off on a Democratic plan to redraw House districts. But the move angered Democrats, who blasted the GOP for moving forward without adequate debate.
"This process is a joke," said Michigan Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer. "Voters be damned, that's what this process is all about." The redistricting process occurs every 10 years after the U.S. Census, and usually means a fight between the two parties. The state Supreme Court has had to get involved in recent years and decide how the lines should be drawn.
The three Democratic members of the House Redistricting and Elections refrained from voting on their plan when they realized they wouldn't get a chance to see the GOP's redistricting proposal, which is still under wraps. The committee's six Republicans approved the Democratic plan.
"We showed them ours and they didn't show us theirs," said Lamar Lemmons, D-Detroit. "Now the public won't have any input." The committee's action sends the Democratic proposal to the House without a recommendation that the House approve the plan there. It's expected to be taken up when the House returns to session on Thursday.
Democrats said they expect the Republican-controlled House to replace their proposal. Committee chairman Bruce Patterson, R-Canton Township, said he's moving the process forward to the House where members can amend the proposal. He said he didn't know about a GOP reapportionment plan. "We're just advancing the process," he said.
House Speaker Rick Johnson, R-LeRoy, said Tuesday he's extending the deadline to receive reapportionment plans until next week from Monday's original deadline. The change would give the Republicans time to submit their plan before the full House takes up the reapportionment bill.
Brewer said the Democrats' House reapportionment plan, which calls for a 55-55 split between Democrats and Republicans, creates a level playing field between the two major parties. It would split 25 counties and 19 townships and cities, according to Rep. Nancy Quarles of Southfield, the ranking Democrat on the redistricting committee.
Michigan Democrats said Monday they would turn to the courts and even the ballot if Republicans redraw congressional and legislative districts in ways that Democrats call partisan gerrymandering. "If representation is rigged in terms of drawing districts, the people who come up on the short end aren't primarily the people representing the districts but the voters," said U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak.
"We'll have to rely on the courts if the Republicans go off the cliff." Levin was one of five Democratic congressional members from Michigan to complain about the tentative GOP plan during a conference call with the media on Monday. They said GOP lawmakers in Lansing are rushing to pass reapportionment plans before Democrats have even laid eyes on them. The House Redistricting and Elections Committee holds the first vote on state Senate and House maps Tuesday afternoon.
Republicans, including state GOP Chairman Rusty Hills, said Democrats as well as Republicans have had new census figures since late April on which to base the lines. Although the Legislature has until Nov. 1 to pass a measure putting the new lines in place, Hills said it makes sense for lawmakers to finish up their work before they leave for their summer break. "It's ironic that people think the Legislature is moving too quickly," he said. "The Legislature's charged with following the law and that's what they're going to do."
The GOP plan, which has not been released outside GOP circles, apparently redraws congressional districts in a way that would make it likely Michigan would have nine Republicans and six Democrats in its U.S. House delegation. The delegation now has a 9-7 Democratic majority. Michigan will lose one congressional seat in 2002 to a southern or western state that is growing more quickly. The GOP plan would pit at least two pair of Democratic incumbents against each other: John Dingell of Dearborn and Lynn Rivers of Ann Arbor; and Dale Kildee of Flint and James Barcia of Bay City.
The maps being drawn for state House and Senate seats, also unseen by Democrats, would apparently give Republicans several more GOP-dominated districts in fast-growing areas such as Macomb County. Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer on Monday submitted legislative redistricting plans that would set up 63 Democrat-dominated House districts and 20 Democrat-dominated Senate districts. Republicans now hold a 57-52 edge in the House and a 22-15 edge in the Senate, with one vacancy in each chamber.
Brewer said he doesn't expect the Democratic proposals to be adopted by the GOP-controlled Legislature or signed by Republican Gov. John Engler. But they do show the laws controlling reapportionment don't have to favor Republicans, he said. "Anyone who says you cannot draw plans that at least give Democrats a chance of winning a majority ... is wrong," he said during a conference call with reporters. "I don't want to see a plan that has 63 Democratic (House) seats. I want to see a plan" that's balanced and fair, he added. "We're prepared to negotiate to reach that."
Democrats posted their proposed maps on the Internet. Brewer argued that Republicans are rushing a process and not giving others enough say in how the lines are drawn. "To not even have seen plans when the redistricting committee is ready to vote tomorrow is a travesty," he said. Even Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe weighed in. Michigan Republicans "are trying to ramrod redistricting through in just one week, without any opportunity for public feedback and without even allowing the public to see the maps that will shape their communities for the next 10 years," he said in a news release. But Craig Ruff of Public Sector Consultants, a Lansing think tank, said much of the whining sounds like sour grapes. "If the shoes were on the other feet, reapportionment would be done the same way, there would just be a different set of amputees," Ruff said. "All the grown-up politicians know that if the opposing party is in control of the remapping, they aren't going to like the outcome."
Michigan Reapportionment The first vote on reapportionment maps takes place Tuesday. ...What: House Redistricting and Elections Committee meeting. ...When: 4 p.m. ...Where: House Office Building, Room 519. ...Committee members: Chairman Bruce Patterson, R-Canton; Reps. Andrew Richner, R-Grosse Pointe Park; Jason Allen, R-Traverse City; Michael Bishop, R-Rochester; Nancy Cassis, R-Novi; Doug Hart, R-Rockford; Nancy Quarles, D-Southfield, Ruth Ann Jamnick, D-Ypsilanti; LaMar Lemmons, D-Detroit.
On the Net: Michigan Democratic Party and redistricting maps: http://www.mi-democrats.com Michigan Republican Party: http://www.migop.org/
Kildee vs. Barcia? Dingell vs. Rivers?
Envisioning a possible gain of three House seats through redistricting, Republicans who control the process in Michigan are floating a new map that could squeeze four Democratic incumbents into two districts.
Although details of the new plan remained sketchy last week, key sources said the map would force Democratic Reps. Dale Kildee and James Barcia into the same Flint-area district northwest of Detroit. It also would place Rep. John Dingell, the House dean, and four-term Rep. Lynn Rivers into a district south of the city.
None of the House Democrats anticipated they would face one another when all was said and done, arguing that the proposal is just an opening shot in a battle likely to end up in court. "This is the first step in a very long dance," Rivers said.
Michigan is losing one of its 16 House seats in reapportionment.
Led by Dingell, House Democrats met privately in Washington last Thursday to discuss the GOP plan. Democrats are working on their own version, which they hope to present to the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Barcia, first elected in 1992, said Friday that he's keeping his options open, but is inclined to seek re-election in a district that does not include Kildee. "I'm hopeful that this plan won't be the final plan; this is the initial round," he said, predicting Democrats could mount a "successful legal challenge" to this proposal if it were to become law.
Rivers warned state Republicans to resist "overly partisan or manipulative" moves that could be received poorly by voters.
Republicans "have to look at the possibility of a backlash," she said. "If it's perceived that they're becoming greedy or unfair, there's a possibility for the public to become very unhappy with the GOP. That could have a number of repercussions. They're walking a tightrope too."
The GOP expects to pick up a third seat by seizing or eliminating the seat held by Minority Whip David Bonior. Following GOP threats to erase his district, Bonior announced he would retire to run for governor. Bonior has denied that his decision was motivated by the GOP redistricting threats.
Newly released census figures confirm Michigan Democrats' fears: that Republicans have a good chance of extending their lock on the Legislature through the end of this decade. The census has exposed population losses in such staunch Democratic strongholds as Detroit, Flint and Pontiac, and strong growth in traditionally Republican suburbs. Western Michigan, a GOP bastion, and the northern Lower Peninsula, also Republican for the most part, were the state's fastest-growing areas during the 1990s.
This will result in a net gain of two House seats and one Senate seat for Republicans in the redistricting shuffle just getting under way now that official census figures are in, experts are predicting. And Republicans already enjoy majorities of 23-15 in the Senate and 58-52 in the House. "Even if Democrats had control of the pen, they wouldn't be able to draw a Democratic plan, unless you totally ignored the law," said pollster Ed Sarpolus, head of EPIC/MRA.
Looking into the crystal ball, that probably means taxpayers can expect another decade of legislation that businesses and conservative interest groups like -- and that Democrats' labor union allies won't find friendly. For instance: Democratic lawmakers have been trying for years to boost the minimum wage. Republicans again this session are trying to dismantle "living-wage" ordinances in townships and cities such as Detroit -- local laws requiring municipal contractors to pay their employees wages higher than the state's minimum wage.
Republican dominance could translate into continuing favor for alternative schools that compete with traditional schools, and less largess for inner-city schools serving shrinking populations; a tight rein on spending for welfare or publicly-funded mental health care, but looser purse strings when it comes to prisons and economic development. "We have to be very, very diligent through this (reapportionment) process," said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, an early seeker of the Democratic nomination for governor.
"Right now the makeup of the Senate is in no way reflective of the popular vote for Republicans and Democrats, which is about equal. That's the power of those lines." Democrats still have hope But Democrats aren't without hope. Peters and others point out that population patterns partially reflect a continuing migration from Detroit to Oakland and Macomb counties. That's making them more Democratic. Peters also will argue his party has a superior message. Oakland County, in fact, went for Democrat Al Gore in last November's election.
Democrats now serve on the West Bloomfield Township Board, which used to be all-Republican all the time. Republicans' biggest challenge could be skirmishes within the party over which incumbent lawmakers will have to accept some traditional Democratic territory into their districts when new lines are drawn, Sarpolus said. Sen. Shirley Johnson, R-Royal Oak, for example, represents a secure 13th District made up largely of Troy and Royal Oak. It would get more Democratic if parts of neighboring Pontiac, Southfield or Detroit were tossed in. Such thoughts now dance in lawmakers' heads because every 10 years, when new U.S. census figures arrive, states are obliged to rearrange boundaries of their state and national legislative districts to reflect how population has shifted. Committees of the Legislature draw them up for approval by the full legislature by Nov. 1.
If lawmakers can't agree on a plan, the State Supreme Court takes over the redistricting. Boost in state population The new configurations have to allow for the overall boost in state population, from 9.3 million in 1990 to 9.9 million now. Target population for each of the 110 state House districts -- 85,000 under the old census -- will become more like 91,000 as a result of the new head count. By one analysis, southeast Detroit's 4th District has shrunk to 66,714 residents and now is the least populous state House district.
The 33rd House District in east central Macomb County ballooned to 140,181 and is the largest. That means the 4th will have to grow in area so that it adds residents, while the 33rd will have to shrink to a smaller area and fewer people. Noted Rep. Leon Drolet, R-Clinton Township, who represents the 33rd: "You could find a way to draw a Democratic district up here, but my hope is that won't happen." Bet on Drolet getting his wish. He envisions a scenario in which three Republican-dominated districts could be carved out of northern Macomb County, mostly from the two districts he and Alan Sanborn, R-Richmond represent.
lead both chambers of the Legislature, they control the redistricting and
can, within limits, draw new lines favoring their party. That's the
double-whammy Democrats face: Republicans in charge of the process and
population changes that support their natural tendency to help themselves.
Trends reshaping our Legislature District lines for the Michigan House of
Representatives and Senate must be redrawn to reflect where population has
flowed in the last 10 years -- into suburbs, western Michigan and the
northern Lower Peninsula. Specifically: Detroit Dropped from just over 1
million to 951,270 Wayne County Fell 2.4 percent to 2.06 million Flint
Lost 11.2 percent of its population Livingston County Grew 36 percent
Oakland and Macomb Up 10 percent each Kent and Ottawa counties Gained
City council elections in nine cities would be held in wards as they exist now under a bill winning passage in the Mississippi House. Supporters said the cities of Jackson, Tupelo, Bay St. Louis, Greenwood, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Meridian, Biloxi and Laurel - all mayor-council form of government - cannot redraw ward lines with the release of U.S. Census data unlikely before March or April.
Municipal candidates must qualify by March 1. Party primaries are in May and the general election is in June. Leaders of the nine cities want the law changed so they can continue elections without redistricting. The proposed change is intended to erase the possibility of holding municipal elections in back-to-back years - regular elections this year under existing lines and special elections in 2002 under redrawn lines. Legislators had to run in back-to-back elections in 1992 and 1993 because of difficulties over redistricting.
A federal judge ordered the second election because of concerns about one person-one vote. Opponents said changing the municipal redistricting timetable would mean some people aren't properly represented the next few years, particularly in cities that have grown by annexation. "Everyone is entitled to equal representation," said Rep. Ed Blackmon, D-Canton. House Elections Committee Chairman Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston, said some cities aren't required to redraw ward lines this year. "This idea doesn't come from the far side of the moon," Reynolds said.
The bill allows the nine cities to hold elections in wards as they exist now and redraw ward lines in time for the 2005 city election. The bill cleared the House 101-16 Monday and moves to the Senate for further consideration. The U.S. Department of Justice would have to approve the changes. About 90 percent of Mississippi's 297 municipalities are having elections this year. Other forms of government, including cities with alderman-mayor forms of government, aren't specifically required by the state law to redraw wards before the elections.
A similar bill is under consideration in the Senate.
---- The bills are House Bill 452 and Senate Bill 2206. "Statistician
after statistician has testified that sampling is harmful for cities under
200,000 and especially harmful for cities under 100,000," said U.S. Rep.
Paul Ryan, a Republican who served as a member of the census subcommittee
of the House Committee on Government Reform. "Only two cities in Wisconsin
would benefit from sampling. The rest of the state would lose." Prewitt is
expected to make a decision on which figures to use in February. On the
Net: U.S. Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov Wisconsin
Legislative Redistricting Information: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/ltsb/redistricting/
With today's disclosure of a redistricting option that could cost Democrats their edge in Michigan's congressional delegation, war games have begun on what might happen when the GOP-ruled Legislature later this year redraws maps based on the 2000 census. Maybe it's a good thing that U.S. House Minority Whip David Bonior, D-Mt. Clemens, is contemplating running for governor instead of reelection in 2002. The plan would remove his Democratic southern base and extend the district from Mt. Clemens into the GOP-rich Thumb. Democratic State Chairman Mark Brewer scoffs that redistricting options at this early stage are speculative "parlor games," telegraphing GOP "partisan mischief -- to rig the game." He correctly notes that precise options cannot be developed until final census figures are released in March.
But both parties are crunching numbers in anticipation of the dramatic remapping required by population shifts and loss of one of Michigan's 16 seats. A half-dozen Capitol Hill incumbents might have to move or face another incumbent. Today's bearer of bad tidings for Democrats is Vice-President Ed Sarpolus of EPIC/MRA, a Lansing pollster who last year was unfairly criticized by ex-Sen. Spencer Abraham as biased because of his past work for Democrats. I've found Sarpolus to be a wizard on numbers, not causes. So has the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. It partnered with him in developing options, based on population estimates and constraints of the U.S. Voting Rights Act, court rulings and state laws. And, of course, the fact that Republicans control the process.
Sarpolus and Chamber Vice-President Robert LaBrant
conducted a seminar on the subject in November, applying projected
population shifts and assuming Michigan would keep 16 seats. After the
surprise announcement that we'll lose a seat because other states had
bigger population gains, LaBrant asked Sarpolus to go back to the drawing
board. Each district has to have 662,563 constituents, up from the current
580,956. Sarpolus concluded: * Michigan's delegation, which now has a 9-7
Democratic edge, "most likely" will have an 8-7 Republican edge after the
loss and redistricting. "Democrats should expect to lose two seats unless
David Bonior or his (Democratic) replacement can win in his newly drawn
district." If some incumbent Democrats refuse to move, he said Republicans
could end up with a 9-6 edge.
Michigan Democrats in the U.S. House are gearing up for a legal fight over congressional redistricting, even before the Republicans who control the process have the Census information they need to draw the lines. The nine Democratic lawmakers are united in their battle, with each pitching in to help pay a high-priced law firm to represent their collective interests, even though one of them is likely to be squeezed out in the political equivalent of musical chairs. ``Good politicians take care of themselves,'' said Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Detroit. ``We would be less than qualified members if we did not organize ourselves.''
The Democrats hired Chicago-based law firm Jenner & Block to watch the legislative process and prepare legal challenges. The prestigious firm, with nearly 400 attorneys, also has an office in Washington with lawyers who have helped Democrats on redistricting in the past. ``They can help at every step of the way to try to make sure that redistricting doesn't become just a total political animal on the part of the Republicans,'' said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak. The Democrats say they plan to pay the law firm $500,000 to $1 million and possibly more, depending on how contentious the process becomes. The firm will be paid out of a tax-exempt political organization called the Great Lakes '92 Fund, which was formed in August 1991 during the last redistricting battle. The members will seek donations to the fund and make contributions from their own campaign accounts.
A lot is at stake for the Democratic lawmakers. Michigan is dropping from 16 to 15 congressional seats and the way the lines are drawn could put a lawmaker in unfamiliar territory where the power of incumbency will not be so strong. Census figures, on which redistricting is based, are expected to be available by April 1. A redistricting plan must be signed into law by Nov. 1, or the courts step in. For the last several decades, the issue was decided in the courts because neither no one party controlled the Michigan House, Senate and governor's office. Republicans and Democrats drew up competing redistricting maps, and the issue eventually ended up in the courts. This year, Republicans control the Legislature, governor's office and Michigan Supreme Court, giving Democrats little influence over the process. But Democrats are gearing up for a legal fight nonetheless. ``I think it'll go all the way to the courts,'' Kilpatrick said. ``Both sides will have plans to present and the courts will decide what is best.''
Sage Eastman, spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party, said everyone expects there will be legal challenges, but Republicans hoped to avoid extensive court fights by following state redistricting laws. ``It doesn't seem like the Democrats are giving the legislative process a fair chance,'' Eastman said. ``They already seem set on trying to settle this in the courts instead of the legislative process like it's supposed to be done.'' Many of the lawmakers did not want to publicly discuss their strategy for the redistricting process. Reps. Dale Kildee, Jim Barcia and David Bonior did not respond to interview requests for this article. Reps. John Conyers, Bart Stupak and Lynn Rivers referred calls about the matter to Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of the delegation and the leader in the Democrats' efforts. Dingell would not comment beyond a written one-sentence statement that said, ``The delegation is preparing to address the challenges of redistricting and will be fully prepared with legal counsel for the battles that loom before the state Legislature and the courts.''