GOP's redistricting plan protects Republican Mark Ouimet, hurts Republican Rick Olson
Washtenaw County grew in population over the last decade while the rest of the state shrank, and that means it stands to see gains in its political clout in Lansing.
It's also becoming more Democratic.
The GOP's proposed state redistricting maps released today show Washtenaw County with four whole seats in the state House — up from three and a half.
The county's population grew and became more Democratic, making it hard for Republicans to protect both Olson and 52nd District state Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township.
Olson got the short end of the stick.
"I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," Olson commented after the maps were released this afternoon.
Olson's 55th District currently extends into Monroe County, but the new boundaries show it entirely contained within Washtenaw County. Olson lost key Republican territories and gained heavily Democratic territories, while the opposite happened to Ouimet.
It's rumored that Lonnie Scott, a Democratic staffer for 53rd District state Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, is likely to run in Olson's district next year. Olson hasn't decided if he'll run again. Washtenaw County Commissioner Kristin Judge, D-Pittsfield Township, also is eyeing the seat.
"The district, as designed, would be challenging at best," Olson said. "And the takeaway on this is what's happened to me is probably evidence that the process is fair and legal, and there was no effort made to evade the rules and protect me."
Ouimet has been a loyal ally of Gov. Rick Snyder and has consistently voted with the Republican majority to enact his policies. Olson, while he has done the same for the most part, has at times questioned whether some of the budget cuts being proposed by the GOP might be going too far.
Olson said he didn't think the lack of protection afforded to him through the redistricting process was a consequence of any stances he might have taken.
Irwin and 54th District State Rep. David Rutledge, D-Superior Township, still enjoy being in heavily Democratic territories. They're both likely to run again next year.
The 53rd District, as drawn in the new maps, includes most of the city of Ann Arbor minus the northern portion that now falls into the 55th District. The 54th District is redrawn to include only the city of Ypsilanti and Superior and Ypsilanti townships.
Ouimet, who intends to run again, gave up the heavily Democratic northern portion of the city of Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Township while gaining the Republican-leaning Salem and Saline townships. His district also includes Chelsea, Saline and several other townships.
"It moves the district to a solidly Republican district," Ouimet said, adding it takes the guesswork out of which party might be favored to win next year. "I'm pleased with it."
A copy of the GOP's Senate redistricting map shows Washtenaw County being divided into two east and west districts, leaving 18th District Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, within the boundaries of a redrawn 18th District that now includes only the eastern portion of the county. That's likely to make it a more favorable district for Democrats.
"I'm sorry to be losing my constituents on the west side of the county, but looking forward to getting to know the citizens of the southern part of the county better," Warren said. "Keeping in mind, the lines don't officially change until the 2014 election for the Senate, so I'll certainly continue to serve my constituents in the west until this term is up."
It appears Ouimet lives in the redrawn 22nd District, which could favor his chances of potentially moving up to the Senate in 2014. He hasn't said if he's eyeing the seat, though it's a logical next step for him in his political career.
Still, it could be a hard Senate seat for Ouimet to win, because the bulk of the district is in Livingston County and there likely would be a spirited primary with a Livingston County candidate in the running. The seat is now held by Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township.
The 17th Senate District currently held by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville has been redrawn to no longer include any portion of Washtenaw County. The district grew in population so the 17th District now includes only Monroe and Lenawee counties.
Washtenaw County's population grew by about 22,000 in the 2010 census counts, which put the total population at 344,791 residents.
Republicans today revealed the redrawn maps of Michigan’s congressional seats as well. As expected, U.S. Reps. Gary Peters and Sander Levin, both Democrats, are pitted against each other in the same district.
The maps will be considered by the Legislature this summer.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's e-mail newsletters.