Republicans set to redraw political boundaries

Mar 23, 2011

With the detailed U.S. Census numbers in, Republicans in the state legislature can begin the process of redrawing the state's political boundaries for Congress and for the State Senate and the State House of Representatives.

Some ground rules first.

  • Because the state lost population, Michigan will now have 14 Congressional districts (down from 15). When these districts are drawn, they must hold an equal number of people in them. That's why you see districts that cover large areas in the state's northern districts (places where there's less population) and smaller districts in the southeast (places where population is more concentrated).
  • For Michigan's state legislature, districts must hold close to an equal number of people (they can deviate within 95% to 105% of each other), and "existing municipal and county boundaries should be respected as much as possible."

The process now unfolding is similar to the process that unfolded after the U.S. Census in 2000.

In 2001, Republicans controlled all three branches of government the way they do today.

From the Daily Kos:

The Republican drawn redistricting plan...had profound effects on Michigan Congressional Representation. The state lost a seat, and two Democratic incumbents were thrown into one district (John Dingell and Lynn Rivers), while a number of marginal seats were stacked with Republicans. While the Michigan Delegation had 9 Democrats and 7 Republicans prior to the 2002 elections, afterwards the GOP held 9 of 15 seats. Despite two Democratic tidal wave in the 2006 and 2008 elections, the Democrats only gained two seats, and currently hold a 9 to 7 edge in the Congressional delegation.

Some Democrats and groups like the Michigan Redistricting Collaborative have been calling for a fair and open process to redistricting in 2011.

The Republicans who are in control of the process say they'll follow the rules as they're set up now.

Peter Luke quoted Rep. Peter Lund, a Republican from Shelby Township and the chairman of the House Redistricting and Elections Committee, on MLive.com:

Lund said redistricting would “follow the same process as any other law. If (Democrats) wanted to change the laws governing redistricting, you can do it any time, any year. You don’t have to wait until the numbers are out and you lost the last election.

“The game is under way, and we’re going to follow the rules that have been established by the courts, the Legislature and Congress.”

Luke writes that Republicans, "who have a 9-6 edge in congressional seats, likely will seek to put two or more Democratic incumbents — say U.S. Reps. Dale Kildee, Sander Levin and Gary Peters — in the same district."

As for state legislative boundaries, Luke writes that it will be hard for Republicans to outdo the maps they drew after the 2000 Census - districts that "resulted in a 26-seat majority in the Senate and a 63-seat block in the House."

The number that surprised most from the 2010 Census was Detroit's population, 713,777, a drop of 25% since the last Census.

The drop means that Detroit will likely lose clout in Lansing and Washington D.C.

From the Detroit Free Press:

In the Legislature, Detroit is sure to lose at least two state House and one Senate seat, Sarpolus said.

All of Detroit's five Senate and 12 House districts fell far below the targeted number of 260,096 people per Senate district and 89,851 per House district.

"This is immediate, and it's shocking for us. We're dedicated to keeping as many minority seats as possible," said state Rep. Fred Durhal, D-Detroit, chairman of the 14-member black caucus in the House.

Republican state Rep. Peter Lund, chairman of the House Redistricting and Elections Committee, was quoted in the Freep saying, "the voice of power always shifts every 10 years."