GOP could gain redistricting powers in Michigan

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Republican State Leadership Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie

September 22, 2010

By Christopher Bedford

LANSING, Michigan: Top Republican strategists, including Chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee Ed Gillespie, are becoming increasingly confident that their gains in congressional races will have a down ballot impact on state legislature elections — further bolstering Republican power in next year’s once-a-decade redistricting of the House, reports Politico’s Richard E. Cohen. Recent trends are putting in play the state House in large states such as Michigan, where Republicans need 13 seats to take control[1].

“We are very optimistic….Things have only gotten better since July,” says Gillespie. “We have both the intensity and the money.”[1]

In a report released Thursday, the REDistricting Majority Project (REDMAP) of the RSLC said that its projections — which now include Republican takeover of 10 state legislative chambers — are starting to look increasingly conservative as each week passes.[1]

Michigan has 27 seats targeted for Republican takeover in November- 12 open and 15 with Democrat incumbents. Nine of the 15 Democratic incumbents hold seats that were swept in the “08 Obama wave” and had previously been Republican since 2002. The RSLC believes these seats are especially vulnerable due to votes by the nine Democrats, “for larger state budgets and massive tax increases in the midst of a recession.”[2]

“We can tap into voter frustration,” says Gillespie[1].

If the GOP is able to hold the Michigan Senate, take the Michigan House and win the Michigan governorship, REDMAP reports the GOP will have the ability to redraw Michigan’s Congressional districts, resulting in up to three new solidly Republican districts in Michigan- “an effect that will be felt for the next decade.”[2]

“As Republicans showed in 2002 — when their control of map-drawing led to the loss of multiple Democratic incumbents in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — the party that controls the map-drawing can get a huge boost,” writes Cohen. “The prospective pain for Democrats in those states will be even greater because Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania are each expected to lose at least one House seat from the nationwide reapportionment that will result from this year’s census count.”[1]

Gillespie predicts that “15 to 25 seats” are “out there” for potential party switches in redistricting. REDMAP is focused chiefly on electing more Republicans to statehouses this year, and doesn’t plan to work directly on redistricting next year. “Our interest is in getting the pens in the right hands,” he said[1].