New congressional lines force Democrats Levin and Stevens to face off in 11th – The Oakland Press

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Michigan’s new congressional districts were drawn, forcing two Democratic incumbents to face off in the August primary.

Rep. Andy Levin (Bloomfield Twp.), who represents the former 9th District, and Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Waterford Twp.), who represents the former 11th District, announced earlier this month that they each would show up again. election in the new 11th District, which is located entirely in Oakland County, includes parts of their current districts and is considered a safe Democratic seat.

After more than 130 public hearings, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission adopted the state’s new 10-year congressional map, the Chestnut Map, on December 28, which immediately became the subject of several lawsuits alleging it violates the United States Voting Rights Act and the Michigan Constitution by unlawfully diluting the voting strength of African Americans. The 13-member commission and its attorneys said federal law does not require majority-minority districts.

Oakland County now has five congressional districts. (screenshot)

Levin said it’s a unique and unfortunate situation that he’ll have to campaign against a ‘good friend’ in the August primary, but said it’s happening because Michigan continues to lose seats in Congress. due to population decline.

Due to demographic changes, the number of seats in Michigan’s Congress fell from 14 to 13.

“I was so sorry to be forced into a primary election with my good friend, Haley Stevens,” Levin said. “I called her before announcing it and told her how sorry I was about the situation, which is really true. A primary between two incumbents is uncomfortable, but when a state loses a seat, it’s a real possibility.

U.S. Representative Andy Levin (left) joins Pontiac Mayor Tim Greimel during his campaign this week in Pontiac, Michigan (Office of U.S. Representative Andy Levin)

He added, “I never thought I would be in this situation, but I’m just going to do my best so I can continue to serve the people.”

Stevens said she was a little surprised Levin wasn’t running in the new 10th District, where more than 70% of her current voters live. She added, “I’m not going to be kicked out of my district.”

“I was a little surprised, frankly, just considering I couldn’t imagine walking away from the more than 500,000 constituents I represented,” she said. “We would like to have a starter there. Most of our colleagues are, you know, doing a little musical chairs right now to be where the majority of their district is.

Stevens added, “I think if the majority of my voters were in an open seat, I wouldn’t have sought a primary.”

Although disappointed to have to run against Stevens, Levin added that he was excited to lead the new 11th District, a place he calls home and where five generations of his family have lived.

For the past 16 years, Levin has lived with his wife Mary and four children in Bloomfield Township, located in the center of the newly drawn neighborhood. Her father, former congressman Sander Levin, lives in Madison Heights, also located in the district’s new lines.

Last fall, Stevens, who grew up in Birmingham, moved from Rochester Hills, where she rented a house, to Waterford Township, where she and her husband bought a house. Last spring, they had also been looking for a home in West Bloomfield.

U.S. Representative Haley Stevens (right) attends the Pontiac City Council meeting on Wednesday, January 26, 2022. (Haley Stevens for Congress)

“I didn’t move to run anywhere,” Stevens said. “If you weren’t paying attention on January 6, 2021, it was a bit of a tough time. It was a bit of a threatening time. So unfortunately I can’t say “this is my brand new home” or anything like that.

Running in the new 11 also means representing new communities and meeting new Michiganders.

For Levin, these include Auburn Hills, Birmingham, Farmington Hills, Pontiac, Waterford, Wixom and White Lake, to name a few. For Stevens, some new communities include Pontiac, Farmington Hills and all of southeast Oakland County, including Oak Park, Royal Oak, Ferndale, Berkeley and Madison Heights.

The current 9th district of Levin is divided between Macomb County (63%) and Oakland County (37%). The new 11th comprises only 26% of its current constituency while the new 10th comprises 71% of its monetary constituency split between Oakland and Macomb counties

Stevens loses all of his Wayne County voters as well as many western Oakland County residents. The new 11th comprises 46% of its current constituency.

Levin said he fought very hard for the commission’s proposed map of Birch, which would have included a 10th district split between Oakland and Macomb counties. The new 10th District was won by Democratic U.S. Senator Gary Peters and Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

“I was all set to race for this district (Birch map 10th),” he said. “I love representing Macomb and Oakland together. I think that’s a good thing.

U.S. Representative Andy Levin (left) joins members of the Pontiac Black Women’s Roundtable during his campaign this week in Pontiac, Michigan (Office of U.S. Representative Andy Levin)

Levin said the new 10th District is no place to run as a leading progressive member of Congress. He added that it was not about running in a safe Democratic seat, saying he had “never backed down from a challenge”.

Another challenge during this primary race will inevitably be the division of the supporters.

“Of course I anticipate that,” Levin said. “Voters have to vote for one person and find themselves in a situation that has supported both of us in the past. I mean, I’ve supported both of us in the past. I was very supportive of Haley Stevens winning both of her races. That’s the nature of elections.

The two-term congresswoman told The Oakland Press that she is thrilled to campaign with passion and energy on the issues she has worked on, especially in communities that don’t know her as well as Pontiac and Oak Park.

“I think people know my record in the 11th arrondissement,” she said. “For those who don’t, I’m going to make my point to them. I am excited and grateful for what lies ahead. I believe that I represent a voice of the future.

She added: “I have a huge amount of respect for (Levin). I understand that he works to make his point in this district… I think everyone is still friends here.

U.S. Representative Haley Stevens (center) attends a Pontiac District 2 meeting on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (Haley Stevens for Congress)

Five of the state’s 13 congressional districts are potentially competitive, with three scheduled as faceoffs, up from two now. There could be 7-6 splits in favor of either side if it’s close statewide.

It was 9-5 for Republicans for most of the past decade until 2018, when Democrats reversed two seats to bring the score to 7-7.

Besides the new 11th District, the new 4th District located along Lake Michigan in solid GOP territory may include Republican incumbents Fred Upton and Bill Huizeng. Upton is the only incumbent yet to disclose whether he will seek re-election.

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