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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.

Dingell hasnít always had it easy in redistricting. A decade ago, Republicans drew a new map that forced Dingell and then-Rep. Lynn Rivers to face off in the primary. Dingell defeated Rivers in one of the most epic Member-vs.-Member races of the decade.

By drawing the map even safer for Dingell, Republicans conceded the seat. Itís highly unlikely the GOP will target this seat anytime in the next decade.

13th district
Incumbent: John Conyers (D)
24th term (77 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

The winner of the Democratic primary in this downtown Detroit district will be its next Member of Congress.

Still, Republicans made their mark in the 13th district, swapping territory between the 13th and 14th districts. The result isnít pretty. The 13th and 14th zigzag through downtown Detroit, fitting together like horizontal puzzle pieces.

Conyers represents and lives in the new 14th district, but more of his current district lies in the new 13th district. He has not yet announced where heíll seek re-election, but Members of the delegation expect him to run in the 13th.

At least one local Democrat ó state Sen. Bert Johnson ó announced he will challenge Conyers. He probably wonít be the only one. Many local Democrats have waited their turn to run for one of these downtown Detroit seats.

If the Democratic field is small, one of those candidates has good shot to defeat Conyers. Heís representing a lot of new territory in the new 13th, and he continues to catch flak for his wifeís incarceration from a bribery conviction.

14th district
Incumbent: Hansen Clarke (D)
1st term (79 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

This is another safe district for Democrats, but thereís no shortage of political drama in the primary.

Clarke lives in the redrawn 13th district, but more of his Congressional territory lies in the 14th district. He announced on his Facebook page in mid-August that he would seek re-election there instead.

But Clarke wasnít the only one with this idea. After his district got the ax, Rep. Gary Peters announced that he also would seek re-election in the 14th. The result will be one of the most fascinating Member-vs.-Member contests of the cycle.

Clarke has a geographical advantage because heís represented more of the district, but Peters is a dogged campaigner and one of the partyís best fundraisers.

This is also one of the most racially and economically diverse districts in the country. The new 14th district stretches from wealthy Grosse Pointe on the lakeshore through blighted downtown Detroit and north to the blue-collar city of Pontiac. The district is also a majority-minority district: Almost 59 percent of its residents are African-American. Clarke is of mixed race, with a father of Bangladeshi descent and an African-American mother.

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