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The Maps Hurt These State House Incumbents The Most

November 30, 2021

The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) made some tweaks to the three maps it sent out for the final round of public comments earlier this month. That was good news for some state House incumbents, but bad news for others.

Outside of Metro Detroit, the three collaborative maps aren’t all that dissimilar. Lansing, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor were cracked to make more Democratic districts. Flint was packed, which helps Republicans.

In Detroit, the Pine map is the spawn of the ICRC’s original drawings, where every Detroit district touches some other municipality. The Magnolia and Hickory maps are offshoots of Commissioner Brittni Kellon’s designs for Detroit, which doesn’t crack Detroit as drastically, but still splits up the Motor City close to 16 different ways. Outside of some changes in Novi, Wixom and Northville, Magnolia and Hickory are basically identical. The Hickory map also found a way to give Ann Arbor a fourth district.

Still, the three maps have a lot of similarities, and as it stands, these incumbents are the biggest losers:

  1. Rep. Rodney Wakeman (R-Freeland). Talk about a man without a district, Wakeman’s current suburban/rural Saginaw County district is completely gone, meaning he’d have to run against Rep. Amos O’Neal(D-Saginaw) in Democratic Saginaw if he doesn’t want to move. Unfortunately for him, there’s no other good place for him to go. One side of Saginaw County got put in with a district Rep. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) would run in if he doesn’t run for the Senate. The other part of Saginaw is Rep. Phil Green (R-Millington)’s district.
  2. Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit). Look at a map of Detroit. Find the southern outer edge of the city and that’s where Carter lives. Probably no map was going to be great for Carter, but he’s on the outer edge in all three maps and running up against Rep. Cynthia A. Johnson (D-Detroit) in all three. We’re not saying he can’t win, but he’s living at the tip of a peninsula and this is one primary that probably will happen.
  3. Rep. Pauline Wendzel (R-Watervliet). Her northern Berrien County district is gone. Instead, her home-base of Coloma is tied in with Van Buren County, which is where deep-pocketed candidate Bronwyn Holtom moved to run now that Rep. Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan) is term-limited. Wendzel could move to the geographically thin lakeshore district the ICRC made, but that’s going to be a lean Democratic district.
  4. Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit)  She’s drawn into the same Redford Twp. district as Rep. Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford) in all three maps and she doesn’t have a lot of good alternatives. Moving one way puts her in with Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit). Another way and she’s in with Rep. Kyra Blden (D-Southfield). There’s one district without an incumbent that goes into Dearborn if she’s interested in that. She could move north into a second Redford/Detroit district, but there’s not as much Detroit in that one. Would Cavanagh consider moving?
  5. Rep. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Township). He’s on the wrong end of a district with Rep. Andrew Beeler (R-Fort Gratiot). Does he really want to move for two more years to a district that would include parts of Macomb County where he could face another primary?
  6. 6. Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham). A truly crummy draw for Manoogian who isn’t in with Birmingham or Bloomfield Hills in either map. She’s drawn in with Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) in the Pine map. In the other two, she’s put into a Troy-based district that Kuppa would probably want to represent. Jumping into Birmingham would have her in the same district as her friend, Rep. Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield), so that’s a problem. There’s a Bloomfield Hills district she could go to that’s not represented by an incumbent. Maybe Bolden moves, too, into an open Southfield/Farmington district. That’s a lot of moving.
  7. Kuppa. Like Manoogian, she’s in a bad spot if she wants to stay in the House. The Pine map has her in with Manoogian and the other two have her representing the west half of Sterling Heights, which makes her district more Republican. Maybe the Senate doesn’t sound so bad.
  8. Rep. Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park) or Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit) . It’s hard to say who has the biggest problem here, but both first-termers were put in the same district in the Hickory and Magnolia maps. There is an open district to the east, but could either do it and still stay in their current district?
  9. Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Springport). Under previous versions, Lightner was drawn in with Rep. Matt Hall (R-Emmett Township) and she clearly had the geographical upper hand. In these three maps, she’s drawn in with Hall again and she most definitely does not have the edge. Under all three maps, Hall has his southern Calhoun County base and Lightner doesn’t have enough Jackson County to make up the difference. Lightner could move a little closer to Jackson and run for another seat there, but with Chelsea in that district she could be looking at a bit more work than she expected to have a month ago.
  10. Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-Norton Shores). From his current Muskegon County district, VanWoerkom has Norton Shores and that’s about it in all three maps. We don’t know how much money former President Donald Trump will put into opponent Mick Bricker, if anything. Either way, VanWoerkom is going to be forced to spend a bit more time in Grand Haven this coming summer … which, I guess, there are worse things. 11. Rep. John Roth (R-Traverse City) and friend Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) got drawn into the same district, but when you live as close as they do, that’s going to happen. Who is going to stay and run in a competitive general election in Traverse City and who is going to move to a safer Republican district with Antrim County and Benzie County? There doesn’t sound like much downside in campaigning at Crystal Lake in the summer.
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