Republicans who have dominated recent state and federal elections are mobilizing in opposition as a grassroots group nears its signature goal for a 2018 ballot proposal to create an independent commission that would redraw political maps. The Michigan Republican Party and local affiliates are warning supporters about the petition, alleging it is a veiled attempt by Democrats to change the rules of a game they are losing. Longtime GOP attorneys also are plotting a legal attempt to kill the measure before it makes the ballot. “As I’ve often told people, it’s a lot cheaper to keep a proposal off the ballot than it is to try to defeat it in a multimillion-dollar campaign,” said attorney Bob LaBrant, who helped form an opposition committee that could raise money for a potential court challenge.
Petition drive organizers, who maintain their effort and aim is nonpartisan, are gearing up for a fight as well. The Voters Not Politicians committee said Thursday it has hired the Fraser Trebilcock law firm “focused on ensuring voters get an opportunity to have their say.”
Supporters say they’re not surprised by opposition from Republicans, arguing the current system has allowed the majority party to “gerrymander” political boundaries to grow outsized advantages in Washington, D.C., and Lansing.
“I understand that’s hard-core politics, but I believe that from a moral and ethical standpoint, it happens to be wrong,” said former Congressman Joe Schwarz, who served as a Republican but now identifies as an independent.