Mark Schauer to lead Democrats’ redistricting project

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — After losing the 2014 race for governor, former U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer is taking on a new challenge of positioning Democrats in Michigan and other states to have control of legislative redistricting in the next decade.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee said Thursday it has hired Schauer to be director of its Advantage 2020 redistricting project and a related political action committee.

In an email to supporters late Wednesday, Schauer said he will develop strategies to help Democrats win state legislative majorities “over the next three election cycles to put redistricting pens in the hands of Democrats come 2021.”

Michigan is among 36 states where lawmakers in the majority draw the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts after every decennial census, giving the party in power electoral advantages for the next decade or more.

“We all know the cost — in state capitals and in Washington — of gerrymandered districts that have produced unaccountable Republican majorities and policy outcomes that hurt the people we fight for every day,” Schauer wrote.

Legislative and congressional district boundaries in the other 14 states are typically reapportioned by state commissions or courts, independent of elected politicians.

The 36 states where redistricting battles reignite at the start of each new decade hold control over the shape and size of 336 of the U.S. House of Representatives’ 435 seats.

Michigan Democrats have criticized legislative Republicans for drawing a new 14th Congressional District in 2011 that starts in downtown Detroit and encompasses the Pointes, Detroit’s northside, Southfield, parts of central Oakland County and ends in Pontiac.

Republicans hold a 63-47 majority in the state House and a lopsided 27-11 majority in the Senate this session. The 110-member House is up for re-election in 2016; the 38-member Senate’s next election is 2018.

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