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Levin, Peters Drawn Together Under New Michigan Map

Bill Clark/Roll Call
The proposed map released Friday moves Democratic Reps. Gary Peters and Sander Levin (above) into the same district north of Detroit, setting up a potential matchup between two incumbents.

Michigan Republicans played it safe in their proposed redraw of the state's Congressional map, shoring up GOP Members in competitive districts in an attempt to retain nine House seats.

As expected, the proposed map released Friday also moves Democratic Reps. Gary Peters and Sander Levin into the same district north of Detroit, setting up a potential matchup between two incumbents.

As a result of population loss in the state, Michigan is losing a seat, bringing the delegation down to 14 Members. The map proposed by GOP lawmakers, who control the redistricting process, mostly attempts to solidify the current districts and shifts territory among Democratic House Members in the Detroit region.

"My initial reaction is that I think the Republicans appear to be surprisingly generous in this map, compared to what they might have tried to do," said Bill Ballenger, a non-partisan Michigan political analyst.

Veteran GOP Reps. Dave Camp, Fred Upton and Thaddeus McCotter, as well as recently returned Rep. Tim Walberg, all saw more Republican voters moved into their respective districts. Even more advantageous for Walberg is the removal of Calhoun County, which is the home and base of the incumbent he defeated in 2010, ex-Rep. Mark Schauer (D).

Republicans also moved more GOP voters into the district of freshman Rep. Dan Benishek (R), who won an open seat last cycle after longtime Democratic Rep Bart Stupak (D) retired. Freshman Rep. Bill Huizenga's (R) solidly Republican western 2nd district remains pretty much intact under the proposed map, only acquiring the remainder of Allegan County.

The GOP's odd man out appears to be freshman Rep. Justin Amash, whose 3rd district in central-Michigan now stretches south to include Calhoun County, becoming more competitive in the process.

"What they've come up with is a 9-5 map. The Democratic five seats — Republicans are never going to win those five seats. They're 55 percent and above," said Ballenger. "On the other hand, of the nine Republican seats, there are two to three that the Democrats could conceivably win. They're 53 [percent] Republican districts. They're not that strong."

Peters and Levin immediately took issue with the map and released a joint statement Friday calling on the state Legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder to reject it. Peters is faced with the most difficult choice in the delegation: Run against his colleague, Levin, in mostly new territory, or run in the GOP-favored district currently represented by McCotter.

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