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New Congressional Maps Set Up Incumbent Primary Face-Offs

January 4, 2022

When the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) completed its work Tuesday with the Chestnut Congressional map being adopted, it quickly started a domino effect that pits several incumbents against each other in primaries in 2022.

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D), who recently moved to Waterford Township, will face off against U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D), of Bloomfield Township, in the new 11th Congressional District Democratic Primary. If Stevens hadn’t moved recently from Rochester, she would have been in the 10th Congressional District. According to the MICRC’s data, the 11th Congressional District has a Democratic lean of 57.6 to 42.4, meaning whomever comes out of the primary will likely win the seat. It is contained completely within Oakland County.

Both announced they would be staying put and running for that seat Tuesday night without addressing the incumbent face-off in the primary. Stevens made her pledge on Twitter, while Levin did so in a fundraising email. 

Bill Ballenger, of the Ballenger Report, said the winner could come down to which one has the stronger geographical base in the new district.

“It looks like that’s the highest marquee race in a Democratic primary we can think of right now,” he said.

Across the state in West Michigan, the new 4th Congressional District has U.S. Representative Fred Upton (R), of St. Joseph, drawn together with U.S. Representative Bill Huizenga (R), of Zeeland. Upton, Michigan’s longest-serving Congressman, has not indicated that he is seeking re-election yet, saying on Twitter, “The redistricting process is never pleasant, particularly when colleagues are pitted against each other. I’ve been strongly encouraged to seek another term in what will be considered yet again a swing district in a national polarized political climate.”

Huizenga has already announced he would be running in the district, also saying on Twitter, “The Michigan Redistricting Commission has spoken. I was born and raised in Ottawa County and I will proudly run to represent the voters in the newly created 4th Congressional District.”

Ballenger believes Huizenga might have an upper hand in this district.

“Upton, of course, is an institution, and has been around forever,” he said. “But I’m not sure all of Upton’s experience and history are going to help him that much. It’s going to be hard for him to win a primary against Huizenga if they went head to head.”

He added that the easiest solution for Republicans would be for Upton to retire, although he has escaped primary challenges before unscathed. 

In the newly-created 4th Congressional District, Republicans have an edge over Democrats, 54.2 percent to 45.8 percent, according to MICRC data.

The wild card, according to Ballenger, is State Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers), who has announced he’s running against Upton. With the new map, Carra is currently in the 5th Congressional District, which is where current U.S. Representative Tim Walberg (R) was drawn.

Carra has a lot of choices to make. Does he stay in his current spot and primary Walberg? Does he move into the 4th Congressional District even if Upton doesn’t run? Or does he stay put and run for his current State House seat?

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