Michigan House Action Wave

Though the Michigan congressional lines are in litigation and filing time is still more than two months away in preparation for the state’s August 2 primary election, last Tuesday was a busy day on the Wolverine State’s US House front.

First, in the paired Republican incumbent 4th District where Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) is seeking re-election and appears ready to face fellow Rep. Fred Upton* (R-St. Joseph), a third candidate announced that he would not abandon his own Republican campaign despite seeing an unfavorable district draw.

State Rep. Steve Carra (R-Portage) said last week that he intends to remain in the new 4th Congressional District race despite potentially having to face two incumbents and not having any of his current state House District lying in the new 4th. His legislative district will now be fully contained in Rep. Tim Walberg*’s (R-Tipton) new 5th CD that stretches the width of Michigan along the state’s southern border. Mr. Carra earned former President Donald Trump’s endorsement in his pre-redistricting bid against Rep. Upton.

When queried about the difficulty of the paired nomination race for a non-incumbent such as himself, Mr. Carra stated, “It doesn’t matter whether there’s one or two status quo Republicans in the race.”

For his part, Rep. Upton is not yet committing to run for a 19th term, saying he wants to further study the new district and see whether the courts disqualify the current map. A group of current and former Democratic state legislators have filed suit against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission claiming the members violated the Voting Rights Act with their draw of the congressional and state legislative districts in Detroit and Wayne County.

The 4th District will be one of the most interesting primary campaigns in the state and possibly the nation if Huizenga and Upton ultimately face each other. Mr. Carra coming to the race with the Trump endorsement and potentially testing just how much the ex-President’s support actually means, becomes a wild card entry.

Another incumbent who did not fare well in the redistricting process is freshman Rep. Peter Meijer* (R-Grand Rapids). His 3rd District moves from a R+9 to a D+3 seat according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical site. Dave’s Redistricting App scores the CD at 50.1% Democratic and 46.5% Republican. President Joe Biden would have carried the new 3rd, 53-45%. Therefore, Rep. Meijer, along with potential primary problems because he, too, voted in favor of President Trump's impeachment, has a difficult political road ahead.

Taking advantage of the situation, 2020 Democratic nominee Hillary Scholten, who held Mr. Meijer to a 53-47% win in the current CD-3, announced that she will return for a re-match. She is the most prominent Democrat to so far enter the race, and will likely become a consensus candidate. This will be a toss-up race in November.

In the state’s Democratic incumbent pairing, the new Detroit metro area's 11th CD featuring Reps. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) and Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) is also projected to be a very close race.

Rep. Stevens sees 46% of her current 11th District constituents coming to the new 11th, but not her home base of Rochester Hills. For Rep. Levin, only 27% of the new 11th CD’s population comes from his current 9th District, but his home base of Bloomfield Township, and a surrounding region that served as his father’s political base for a 36-year congressional stint and his own since the 2018 election, remains intact within the new 11th. Mr. Levin’s father, former Rep. Sander Levin (D), brother of the state’s six-term Senator, the late Carl Levin (D), served in the US House from 1983-2019.

Rep. Stevens released her internal Impact Research poll (1/24-27; 519 MI-11 likely Democratic primary voters) that posts the Congresswoman to a 42-35% edge over Rep. Levin. Such an early ballot test result as this confirms that the candidates are likely destined to fight down to the very last vote cast on August 2.

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