Michigan races heat up between incumbents of same party

New political maps mean new dilemmas for incumbents running for reelection in Congress, the state House or the state Senate.

11th Congressional District candidates Andy Levin and Haley Stevens

Rep. Andy Levin (left) and Rep. Haley Stevens (right)

New political lines are creating new political drama for politicians and political hopefuls across the state.

Typically, every two years, incumbents who want another term in Congress or the state Legislature run in the same district. Sometimes, they have a primary challenger. Sometimes they coast to a general election against challengers from another party.

This year is different. Redistricting means we’ll have incumbents running against other incumbents. That’s especially the case in 2022, because Michigan’s new independent redistricting commission did their work without overt consideration for incumbents. That’s a major departure from redistricting when partisan state lawmakers were in charge of the process.

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Take Michigan’s new 11th congressional district, which takes up most of Oakland County. It stretches from Waterford to Farmington Hills, from Wixom to Troy. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) already lives in the district and will run there. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Waterford Township) now serves more than 40%  of those constituents in her current district and recently moved to Waterford Township, which is in the new 11th District as well.

Stevens has been vocally critical of Levin’s decision to run in the new 11th when he could have run in the new 10th District in Macomb County. That district includes many of Levin’s current territory and constituents.

Why have a Democrat-on-Democratic primary if we have an open seat where you, as Mr. Levin, represent 512,000 of those constituents and can run there?” Stevens said last week on WDET’s Detroit Today.

Levin has said that these are still his people, and he didn’t want to uproot his family to run in the 10th. 

I just think that it’s up to the voters to pick the elected officials and not the other way around. Nobody is owed a seat in Congress. Nobody deserves anything. We work hard. We need to work hard and earn the trust of voters,” Levin said on Detroit Today last week.

Related: How Michigan’s new political maps will change dynamics for candidates across the state

This could also play out soon on the west side of the state as well. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) hasn’t said whether he’ll run for re-election yet. But he did just start running ads that indicate he’s at least very seriously considering running again. If that’s the case, he’d likely be running against incumbent Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland), who has already announced he’s running in the new Fourth District, where Upton lives. 

Meanwhile, the entire state Legislature is up for election this year, also with a mix of open seats and incumbents running against incumbents.

You can figure out what your new district looks like here. And, of course, stay tuned to your local public radio station to find out who’s running.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that these are untested lines. We can hypothesize all we want about what new districts are good for Democrats, good for Republicans, but we really aren’t going to know for sure until November when the voters finally head to the polls.  

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Rep. Haley Stevens (Waterford Township) is moving to the new 11th Congressional District to run in that primary. Stevens moved to Waterford with her husband before the redistricting maps were drawn and finalized.

More from MichMash:

Reactions to Michigan’s new district lines are all over the map

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  • Jake Neher
    Jake Neher is senior producer for Detroit Today and host of MichMash for 101.9 WDET. He previously reported on the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
  • Cheyna Roth
    Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.