The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

March 23, 2013

GOP gerrymandering aolidifies control of House

(Continued)

The district is anchored by Warren, Michigan's third largest city with about 134,000 residents. It has the GM Technical Center and two auto plants, a median income of $45,400 and a lower percentage of college graduates than the statewide average.

Warren in the 1980s was a hotbed of so-called Ronald Reagan Democrats — predominately white voters who defected from their political roots to support the Republican president.

More recently it's a place where minorities, especially African Americans, are migrating. Many of them have come from Detroit, which the 2010 census showed lost 25 percent of its population during the preceding 10 years. Blacks comprise 13.5 percent of Warren's population, up from 2.7 percent in 2000.

Also fueling the community's demographic change was the departure of some Republican voters for more distant suburbs. As more blacks have relocated to Warren, so have Democratic-leaning younger voters, said state senator Steve Bieda, a Democrat who represents the area.

"They seem to be more progressive in their views on social issues," Bieda said.

Jocelyn Howard, a Detroit native and black Democrat, moved to Warren eight years ago. Howard, who's single and in her 40s, said the community once had a reputation as hostile to blacks. Since she bought a house in the first new subdivision built in the city in 50 years, she said she has felt welcome and a sense of belonging.

Warren's lifestyle, rather than political considerations, attracted Howard: safety, good schools and affordable, well- maintained homes. The upshot is that she and other like-minded newcomers have altered the city's political complexion.

In the 1988 presidential race, Warren went for Republican George H.W. Bush over Democrat Michael Dukakis, 57 percent to 43 percent. Obama carried the city in 2012 with 61 percent of the vote.

The new House districts don't reflect Michigan voters, Levin told reporters at a Feb. 26 Bloomberg Government event. He said the state should create an independent commission to handle redistricting.

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