The Michigan Statehouse, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Lansing, Mich. 
Carlos Osorio/AP Photo

Michigan GOP boasted about stuffing ‘Dem garbage’ into gerrymandered districts


When partisans go through the process of creating gerrymandered district lines, it’s easy to imagine them describing their efforts in crude and raw terms. But it’s one thing to imagine the language; it’s something else to see the emails documenting it. The New York Times  reported:

Newly disclosed emails show Michigan Republicans angling to give their party a dominant position through gerrymandered maps and celebrating the plight of their Democratic rivals.

Republicans in the state have denied that they sought partisan gain when they drew new legislative boundaries in 2011. But a federal lawsuit, which argues the maps are unconstitutional, has unearthed records showing Republicans intent on drawing boundaries that would help their party.

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The emails were first reported by the Center for Michigan’s magazine, The Bridge.

One of the messages, for example, noted the creation of a congressional district that looked like it had an extended finger. “Perfect. It’s giving the finger to Sandy Levin,” an unnamed Michigan Republican wrote, referring to a longtime Democratic congressman. “I love it.”

Another message from a GOP staffer bragged about cramming “Dem garbage” into four southeast Michigan congressional districts.

A third email, sent by a former Michigan Chamber of Commerce executive, said he expected the gerrymandered map to give Republicans indefinite control over the state’s congressional delegation. “We’ve spent a lot of time providing options to ensure we have a solid 9-5 delegation in 2012 and beyond,” the email read.

A fourth, sent by a different Michigan Chamber of Commerce leader, urged Republicans to be cautious – “for legal and PR purposes” – not to make the gerrymandered map look too “obvious.”

All of this has come to light in response to a federal lawsuit challenging Michigan’s current map, but let’s not lose sight of the larger context. Voters in the state recently succeeded in putting an anti-gerrymandering measure on the statewide ballot for this year’s elections.

The Michigan Supreme Court announced earlier this month that it would consider a legal challenge to the ballot measure. At least in theory, the justices should take note of the latest revelations as the deliberations continue.

That said, of the seven justices on the state’s high court, five were appointed by Republican governors.

Gerrymandering and Michigan

Michigan GOP boasted about stuffing 'Dem garbage' into gerrymandered districts