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Race Ratings: GOP Shores Up Freshmen in Competitive Michigan

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Gary Peters (above) will seek re-election in the 14th district after redistricting put him in the same district as Rep. Sander Levin.

Republican mapmakers cannibalized this district, dividing the previous 9th district into four different House districts around Detroit. But about 75 percent of Levin’s current district went into the new 9th district, making it an obvious choice for the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee to seek re-election.

Rep. Gary Peters (D) held on to the current 9th district for the past two terms and lives in the redrawn 9th district. Peters, a strong campaigner, is one of only a few Democrats to survive re-election in a competitive district in the Rust Belt in 2010.

So Levin dodged a bullet when Peters announced in September that he would not seek re-election in this district. Many Democrats assumed the two would face off in a Member-vs.-Member race.

As a result, Levin’s prospects for a 16th term look good. The district includes strong Democratic territory. But without a bruising Democratic primary to damage Levin, Republicans will likely leave him alone.

10th district
Incumbent: Candice Miller (R)
5th term (72 percent)
Rating: Likely Republican

Miller was one of the lead mapmakers this cycle and didn’t change much about her district with good reason.

She has never won re-election with less than 63 percent of the vote in this conservative, eastern Michigan district. But there are also geographical limitations: Miller’s district borders on Lake Huron, which means the only way for the district to increase is to move east.

Miller kept 95 percent of her current district under the new map. She can hold on to this district as long as she wants it.

11th district
Incumbent: Thaddeus McCotter (R)
5th term (59 percent)
Rating: Likely Republican

The mapmakers helped McCotter’s district more than any other Republican. His current district is competitive, and President Barack Obama won with 54 percent in 2008. But McCotter has won re-election handily since his first campaign.

The 11th district kept about two-thirds of its current territory. The district also picked up 230,000 people from Oakland County in the current 9th. But these were mostly independent and right-leaning, suburban voters that will help McCotter’s cause.

Despite his enviable new district, sources said McCotter was not pleased with the final result.

More importantly, McCotter has not committed to running for re-election in the 11th during his quixotic presidential campaign. McCotter declined to say whether he would seek another term in an interview with Roll Call a few months ago.

While McCotter hits the presidential campaign trail, several local Republicans have expressed interest in running for his seat. State Sen. Mike Kowall formally announced a bid, and former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski is also considering running.

Democrats aren’t touting any candidates for the 11th district yet, and it’s more likely they’ll put their resources elsewhere. But in a strong year for Democrats, a candidate could defeat McCotter or his successor for the GOP nomination. 

12th district
Incumbent: John Dingell (D)
28th term (57 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Republicans made this district safer, swapping out the more conservative Monroe County and adding more of the south Detroit population, including the city of Dearborn.

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