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2024 Starts With a Bang

January 9, 2024

The 2024 calendar year doesn’t need Michigan’s now-legal aerial fireworks to give it a bang.

The story lines hitting Michigan’s political scene have the new year off to a fast start. Here’s MIRS’ Top 9 to get things started.

  1. Redistricting Commission. The strength of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) will be put to the test whether a federal court lets it redraw the unconstitutional House and Senate maps or not.

It’s already clear that picking 13 people who didn’t even stay in a Holiday Inn Express to draw Michigan’s congressional and legislative maps opens the process up to being hijacked by out-of-state consultants with questionable legal theories.

The MICRC could crumble due to infighting and a lack of accountability and leadership. Will it play out over more painful Zoom meetings? Or will all 13 commissioners appear in a single room at the same time for the first time ever?

We hate to bring this up, but the last few Michigan maps drawn in secret through a blatantly partisan process were held up in court.

  1. Legislative Distress. On a related note, that House Democratic caucus room will likely be a little more tense in 2024. How many districts are being redrawn? Just the 13 unconstitutional ones that are held 100% by Democrats? All of Metro Detroit? Or the whole darn state?

We honestly won’t know for at least a couple of days. We do know some legislators are worried about finding themselves in the same district and with little time to figure everything out. Should they run? Not run? Move?

How do the unconstitutional maps affect the special elections in District 13 and District 25? District 13 is sandwiched between unconstitutional Districts 12 and 14. How is 13, which is basically the same thing as 12 and 14, any more constitutional than its neighbors? All three look like spears. They start in the suburbs and stab out into Detroit until about 35% of it consists of a Black voting population.

We’ll get more guidance from the court, but the question isn’t whether there will be some nervous incumbents. It’ll be: how many?

  1. 54/54 in the House. Remember those beautiful days when co-House Speakers Curtis Hertel, Sr., and Paul Hillegonds held up the gavel together, split the committees in half and alternated committee chairs?

Ah, if you do, you’re old.

That was 1993. That was 30 years ago and that ain’t happening in 2024. Buckle up for a lot of committee meetings and little to no House floor action until May, at the earliest. House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) and House Republican Leader Matt Hall (R-Kalamazoo) haven’t exactly set a tone for bipartisan collaboration on much of anything.

There’s no reason to expect they’ll start now.

It’d be nice and cute to think these legislators would come together on some bi-partisan ethics package or campaign finance disclosure after Rob and Anne Minard were charged with bilking a lot of people in Lansing (See No. 8), but everything is so partisan now.

The trust isn’t there. Everyone is looking for an edge.

  1. Kristina Karamo. Maybe the only thing more contentious than the state House or the MICRC is the Michigan Republican Party. A group of Republicans is slated to remove the arguably ineffective Chair Kristina Karamo this weekend.

We’re fully expecting her not to acknowledge the results. She’ll claim bylaws were broken or something. Maybe the courts will need to get involved.

Michigan Republicans appear headed for another split-party situation. Kind of like Hillsdale County and Macomb County and Kalamazoo County.  It’d all be interesting Capitol Intrigue with no impact, but for the . . .

  1. Presidential Primary. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer & Co. hosed the Republicans by setting a presidential primary for a Feb. 27 date that would strip Michigan Republicans of nearly all of their national convention delegates. So, instead, the cash-strapped MIGOP will have to hold a special convention on March 2 to decide how many of Michigan’s 55 delegates Donald Trump will win.

The whole thing would be spectacularly anti-climactic if it weren’t for the possibility of there being two Michigan Republican parties holding competing conventions. Which one would the National Republican Committee recognize?

Trump probably wins both conventions, but which MAGAs go to Milwaukee? The Karamo ones or the anti-Karamo ones?

Could you imagine things devolving into such chaos? Of course you can.

  1. Whitmer Talk Not Going Away. Speaking of president, have we stopped asking Gov. Whitmer about any future presidential plans? She’s not running, in case you missed it. But . . .

CNN quoted Whitmer in its hypothetical story of what happens if President Joe Biden is suddenly unable or unwilling to give it a go in 2024. Theoretically, he has until the mid-August convention in Chicago to change his mind. What if Trump loses somehow or is considered unqualified or something?

Didn’t Biden admit he’s only running to stop Trump Part 2? Whitmer is on just about every national list of potential replacements. Talk of her running for president certainly is more interesting than . . .

  1. State of the State. No all-Democratic trifecta to start the year means Whitmer must pump the brakes on an expanded paid leave proposal or a drug affordability board. She’s giving no clue what she’s looking at because she needs to decide whether to go hard partisan or give this bi-partisan thing a try.

Maybe she can mention her population growth council (remember them)? What did they propose again? Constitutional amendment to make the Board of Education gubernatorial appointees?

What about some type of reporting system for political non-profits like the ones run by . . .

  1. The Minards. For all the chest thumping the Democrats did after Attorney General Dana Nessel accused the former Lee Chatfield operatives with pocketing $500,000 from their side hustles, the D’s realize they have non-profits that don’t publicly disclose, too.

Your average Dem might not be raising Chatfield-like money, but it’s something. Do they want to show their cards? Do they REALLY want to risk ending their secret revenue stream? Or will it be easier to blame the Republicans for playing politics and let the status quo remain for another term?

As for the Minards, it’s hard to see, based on this affidavit, that Nessel has proof that Chatfield approved or pocketed any of the money in question. Could this be the end of the road for the Chatfield investigation and the start of uncomfortable conversations on the money that gets churned around in Lansing (See No. 3)?

It lets Nessel off the hook to concentrate on the . . .

  1. GOP Electors. Golly, what a mess this is. A bunch of geriatrics crammed into a shoebox-sized courtroom. Their attorneys stepping over each other to convince a judge that these geezers didn’t know what the hell Trump’s attorney told them to sign. What did they sign, by the way?

Did it look official? Did they try to make it official? Was it a “just-in-case-these-wild-conspiracy-visions-actually-come-true” document? Or were they trying to sneak one by the Vice President of the United States? Did they hope nobody followed the news? Nobody caught that Trump actually lost Michigan?

It’ll all be cleared up in two or three different parallel proceedings, hopefully. All the while, Nessel probably wins, even if she loses. More news coverage on how ridiculous Trump supporters acted after the 2020 election can’t possibly help Republicans.

Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter


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