Michigan Republicans sue to stop redistricting commission

 

A group of Republican party members and elected officials are trying to put an end to a commission that voters put in charge of redrawing political districts in Michigan.

Lobbyist Tony Daunt and 14 other Republicans filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, claiming the restrictions on who can serve on the commission are unconstitutional.

At stake is the heart of Proposal 2, a voter-approved Constitutional amendment that shifts the responsibility of drawing Michigan’s state and federal political districts every 10 years to a 13-member independent redistricting commission. The commission is made of five independent members, four self-declared Democrats and four self-declared Republicans.

There are limits to who can serve on the commission — which the lawsuit argues violate the First Amendment of the Constitution, on the grounds that political belief and association are considered to be protected free speech in a legal precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Within the past six years, redistricting commission members cannot have been a candidate for a partisan office, an elected official to a partisan office, an officer or member of a governing body of a political party, a paid consultant or employee of an elected official or political candidate or their campaign, an employee of the legislature, a registered lobbyist. Parents and children of individuals that meet these restricted categories are also barred from participating in the commission.

All 15 plaintiffs named in the lawsuit state they are interested in serving on the commission but are prohibited from doing so.

Daunt has been a registered lobbyist since 2013, is a member of the Clinton County Republican Party and is a member of the Michigan Republican Party governing body. Other plaintiffs include State Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte; Kathy Berden, national committeewoman of the Republican Party; and Linda Lee Tarver, a voting member of the Michigan Republican Party’s central committee and president of the Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan.

“Voters spoke loud and clear last November that they want an independent, citizen-led commission – not partisan politicians – responsible for drawing district lines. My office will stay focused on engaging the public and encouraging full participation in a transparent application and random selection process for this commission, which has the opportunity to map Michigan’s future,” Benson said in a statement.

There is a June 1, 2020, deadline for applicants interested in serving on the commission to apply. Benson said having several hundred thousand applicants isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Currently, Benson’s office is seeking public comment on draft application language and eligibility guidelines, which can be viewed in full on the state’s redistricting website. The full commissioner application is expected by this fall.

Jamie Lyons-Eddy, director of Campaigns and Programs for Voters Not Politicians — the group behind Proposal 2 — called the lawsuit a “last ditch” effort by politicians to hold on to power.

“It’s no surprise that politicians – who directly benefit from drawing their own election maps and choosing their own voters – want to undermine the voice of voters again,” Lyons-Eddy said in a statement. “We’re confident that the proposal will survive any and all legal challenges, just as it did from many of these same politicians on the way to the ballot.”

Proposal 2 fought its way through multiple legal challenges backed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Republican Party on its way to the November 2018 ballot. Ultimately, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the proposal did not negatively impact the powers of the three branches of government and was not a revision of the state’s Constitution — allowing the issue to be decided by voters. The issue passed with 61 percent of the vote.

Debate Line-up for Tuesday Night

We are hosting a pair of watching parties at Shenanigan’s Pub on M-55 in Houghton Lake. Our gathering will begin at 7:30 and the debate on CNN begins at 8. Pizza will be offered to our guests.

Tuesday Nights Candiates:
Bernie Sanders, U.S. senator from Vermont
Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator from Massachusetts
Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Ind., mayor
Beto O’Rourke, former U.S. representative from Texas
Amy Klobuchar, U.S. senator from Minnesota
Steve Bullock, Montana governor
John Delaney, former U.S. representative from Maryland
John Hickenlooper, former Colorado governor
Tim Ryan, U.S. representative from Ohio
Marianne Williamson, author

Please join us and bring a friend.

Democrats will have a better chance if they take a page from Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer

 

By Karen Tumulty
Columnist
July 28 at 6:41 PM
It is not by happenstance that this week’s Democratic presidential debates are being held in Detroit.

There were plenty of surprises on the earthshaking election night of 2016 but few as big as Donald Trump’s squeaker of a victory in Michigan. No Republican presidential contender had won the state since 1988, and Democrats in the years since had become so confident there that they counted Michigan as part of their “blue wall.”

Though Trump had lagged behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in polling, he worked hard in Michigan. Two forces tipped him over the top: that much-analyzed surge of support among working-class whites in small towns and rural areas across the Midwest, coupled with the fact that Michigan saw the sharpest drop-off of African American voters in the country. Black turnout was estimated to be more than 12 percentage points lower than it had been four years earlier, when President Barack Obama was running for a second term.

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With Trump winning by a popular-vote margin of 0.2 percentage points (which was fewer than 11,000 votes), Michigan’s turned out to be the closest contest in the country.

The 2018 midterm elections have given Democrats ample reason to hope they can put the state and its 16 electoral votes back in their column. But their chances to do so will be better if they take a page from the playbook of Michigan’s new governor, Gretchen Whitmer.

A former state Senate minority leader who began her 2018 race with little name recognition beyond her Lansing base, Whitmer ran a disciplined and focused campaign. In the Democratic primary, she positioned herself as the most moderate candidate. That included rejecting the Medicare-for-all proposals touted by her more liberal opponents, one of whom was endorsed by both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and soon-to-be-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

She rarely mentioned the president and hammered instead on issues that shape daily life closer to home. Her salty campaign slogan was: “Fix the damn roads.” In November, Whitmer easily beat Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette, who wrapped himself in Trump’s endorsement.

Whitmer does not plan to make an endorsement anytime soon. But she told me that she has had conversations with at least eight of the presidential contenders and is counseling them to do what she did.

“I stayed focused on things like fixing the roads, education, ensuring our kids are prepared to have the skills they need and connecting adults with good-paying jobs through skills opportunities as well. And water — cleaning up the drinking water, protecting the Great Lakes,” Whitmer said. “These are our true fundamentals that, I think, resonate not just with Democrats but with voters across the state. They want solutions, not positions.”

Voters in her state are less concerned with the topics that obsess Washington and social media, Whitmer says. She hears little discussion of whether Trump should be impeached. Nor are ordinary Michiganders “spending a lot of energy” on the president’s tweets, including the racist ones that recently targeted one of their own, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, along with three other nonwhite Democratic congresswomen.

The governor also advises the presidential contenders to avoid debate-stage trapdoors, including being asked to answer questions about complex subjects by raising their hands. (CNN has promised there will be no such moments this week.)

In the second night of the first debate, the NBC moderators asked candidates to lift their hands if their health plans would cover undocumented immigrants. The next day’s cover of the New York Post showed five of them with their right arms up, over the headline: “Who wants to lose the election?”

That kind of question produces a dramatic visual effect but “really does a disservice to the candidates, as well as the public,” the governor said. “I think it’s the nature of such a packed field and vying for precious coverage, and that it’s just a part of the environment that we’re living in. But ultimately, at the end of the day, people want leaders who they respect and who they believe in and who can get things done.”

Whitmer added: “That doesn’t come from raising your hand to a question. It doesn’t come from feeding into the current issue of the moment, because there will be a new issue next week and a new one the week after. It comes from really staying on the things that improve people’s lives. It’s hard to do, but a disciplined candidate who really has thoughtful solutions and a plan to execute on them, I think, is ultimately the kind of person that’s going to resonate.”

None of that may sizzle on a debate stage, but it may be the best way not to get burned in the long run.

Your invited because the stage is set for the second set of Debates.

The lineups for the second round of Democratic debates are set and we are hosting two nights of WATCHING PARTIES at the Shenanigans Bar on M-55 at 6263 West Houghton Lake drive in Houghton Lake.   On Tuesday, July 30th and Wednesday the 31st we will meet at Shenanigans at 7:30 p.m.  The debate is to begin at 8 o’clock and run till 10:30.  All are welcome to attend, you do not need to be a member in the party but wanting to learn more about the candidates and be with others who are doing the same.  And please share your interest and bring others to this party hosted by the Roscommon County Democratic Party.

Click here for the line ups:

Michigan Democratic Party Summer BBQ

The fourth annual MDP Summer BBQ is just around the corner, and we are thrilled to have Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joining us!

This year’s Summer BBQ will take place on Sunday, August 11 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at Kensington Metropark (Orchard Pavillion) in Milford.

RSVP for the MDP Summer BBQ by reserving your tickets online today!

GET TICKETS →
Every year, this summer tradition brings more and more fellow Democrats together for great food, lively conversation, and beautiful Michigan weather (fingers crossed!).

This year is set to be the best BBQ yet, and it’s all in support of the Michigan Democratic Party and our mission to elect Democrats up and down the ballot in every corner our state. We hope you can join us!

Onward!
Team MDP