The new maps for congressional and state legislative districts likely won’t affect Greater Lansing districts on a grand scale, but partisan controversy on the issue lingers among state representatives and senators.
Unlike Michigan’s southeast corner, where Democrats have said they could be disadvantaged vitally by the new districts, Editor of Inside Michigan Politics Bill Ballenger said politicians who represent East Lansing in Congress and the Michigan Legislature will not be affected greatly by the new boundaries signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder Tuesday.
State Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing, and State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, both scraped by within their districts because of the overwhelming percentage of Democrat voters — about 60 percent — who inhabit the area.
“In a sense, the Republicans are almost conceding those seats,” Ballenger said.
“They’re strongly Democratic — they’re not going to change.”
But, in her position as leader of the Democratic Party in the senate, Whitmer still is up in arms about the new maps, which many Democrats allege are an illegal form of gerrymandering, or tampering with district lines for political gain.
“I was extremely disappointed in how the Republicans drew the redistricting maps,” Whitmer said in a statement. “During the process, I introduced a substitute that demonstrated how maps can be drawn fairly with only five county breaks, the fewest possible using Apol standards. The Republican majority instead chose to violate those standards and protect their own incumbents at the expense of voters.
“It’s unfortunate that fairness and state law took a backseat in this process.”
Many other members of the state’s Democratic Party are echoing these views; talks of a lawsuit by the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus have circulated since the new boundaries were signed into law Tuesday. In a letter to Gov. Snyder, State Rep. Fred Durhal, D-Detroit, accused the Republican-controlled Legislature of violating state, federal and constitutional law.
Still, Republicans are maintaining no wrongdoing.
“The maps that were drawn were fair, legal and constitutional,” State Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge said. “This is typical of the minority party.”
Ballenger said it’s unusual for courts to redistricted maps; it only happens with a blatant violation of state or federal laws.
U.S. Rep, Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, lost parts of Clinton and Shiawassee counties but still has about the same composition of Republican voters, Ballenger said.
Despite 69th district’s political soundness, citizens here will be choosing another representative in the 2012 election, when Meadows will not run again because of term limits.
One Democratic candidate who has already officially entered the race is former East Lansing Mayor Sam Singh, an MSU alumnus who gained notoriety through serving on the East Lansing City Council.