LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib announced Wednesday she will seek reelection in a new Detroit-area seat created through redistricting, hours after fellow Democratic Rep. Brenda Lawrence said she will retire from Congress rather than run in the district.
The new 12th District — a Democratic stronghold — includes portions of Detroit and suburbs including Dearborn and Southfield. Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, said the seat has nearly two-thirds of people she currently represents.
The move leaves open the new 13th District, another Democratic seat that includes much of Detroit along with other areas of Wayne County. Declared candidates so far include Democratic state Rep. Shri Thanedar and former state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a Democrat who is now on the Detroit school board.
“I am excited about the opportunity to expand our work to include more communities that want the same access to a better quality of life, including clean air and water, affordable housing, economic justice and more,” Tlaib, who is in her second term, said in a statement.
Michigan lost a seat following the census, dropping to 13.
Lawrence, the state’s lone Black member of Congress, announced Tuesday night that she would not seek a fifth term. She said redistricting did not factor into her decision, though it was believed she was unhappy with the map.
Black Democratic officials and current and former African American state legislators from Detroit are among those suing to block the congressional and legislative maps drawn by a new independent commission, contending they weaken the ability of Black voters to elect people of color. The pending lawsuit, announced this week, was expected to be filed in the Michigan Supreme Court late Wednesday.
The plans are fairer politically to Democrats than when the Republican-controlled Legislature drafted gerrymandered maps in 2011 and 2001. But they cut the number of seats where African Americans account for a majority of the voting-age population.
The old maps had 15 such seats by decade’s end: two in the U.S. House, two in the state Senate and 11 in the state House. Now there are seven, all in the state House.
Commissioners say the plans comply with the federal Voting Rights Act because Black voters can elect minority candidates without comprising at least half of a district’s electorate.
Redistricting will shake up Michigan’s congressional delegation in other ways, with some incumbents moving to run in new seats. In-district residency, while not a legal requirement, is politically beneficial.
Five of the 13 districts are potentially competitive, with three forecast as toss-ups — up from two now. There could be 7-6 splits in favor of either party if it is close statewide. It was 9-5 for Republicans most of the last decade until 2018, when Democrats flipped two seats to make it 7-7.
Two Democratic incumbents, Reps. Andy Levin and Haley Stevens, will compete for a Democratic seat in Oakland County. Across the state along Lake Michigan, Republican Reps. Fred Upton and Bill Huizenga may square off in a primary after being drawn together in a GOP district. Upton is the only incumbent to not yet divulge whether he will seek reelection.