In December of 2021 the Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission approved the final district maps Michigan will use for the next decade. The Republican Primary race for the newly formed 4th Congressional District could be one for the ages. Incumbent Fred Upton, Incumbent Bill Huizenga, and Current State Representative and Donald Trump endorsed candidate, Steve Carra. If this race materializes it will give tremendous insight into the future trajectory of the Republican Party.
Between these candidates, Upton has represented the largest portion of the new district and has been a staple in Southwest Michigan politics for over 30 years. Although Upton has been a member of congress since 1987, we have seen a major divide happening within the Republican Party since the election of Donald Trump as President in 2016. After the January 6th riot, Upton voted alongside every Democrat and nine other Republicans, including Michigan’s Peter Meijer, to impeach President Trump for his involvement.
While Upton supported the impeachment of former President Trump, Huizenga voted NO. While Huizenga’s NO vote may have earned him points with Trump Republicans, he also voted YES to certify the election of President Joe Biden in 2020, and did not object to his victory in Michigan. In an extremely competitive primary election, this could be cause for concern for Huizenga, especially because he hasn’t represented voters beyond Ottawa County in the 4th.
State Representative Steve Carra on the other hand has been a vocal advocate for a “full forensic audit” of the 2020 election. While Carra has not actually represented any of the newly formed 4th Congressional District, he is a Southeast Michigan native who has relatively good name identification from his time in the Michigan House of Representatives and his alliance with former President Trump.
The 4th Congressional District voted for Trump both in 2016 and 2020, but Joe Biden closed the gap from 9.4 points to 3.8 points. The partisan index as published by the Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission for the new 4th district is a Republican advantage of 8.4 points, meaning that whoever survives this primary election, is likely to be the next member of Congress representing southwestern Michigan.
As of January 2022, Upton has $1.46 million, Huizenga has $1.14 million and Carra has just under $204,000 cash on hand. This will be an expensive primary election. Voters in Michigan’s new 4th congressional district will decide if Trump’s endorsement of Carra holds any merit, or if the two incumbents with name identification, service to the community for the better part of three decades, and strong fundraising capabilities survive the ongoing rift in the Republican Party.