State Rep. Marty Knollenberg, who sits on the state House committee that is drawing new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts for the next 10 years, is planning his own run for Congress in 2012.
The Troy Republican said Wednesday he is submitting his paperwork to the Federal Election Commission and is employing Lauren Rakolta and Bryce Sandler to raise money for what he expects will be a long campaign.
His likely opponent?
U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, who unseated Knollenberg's father in 2008.
Knollenberg is in his final two-year term in the state House because of Michigan term limits.
"We're official," Knollenberg said Wednesday. "The paperwork is being submitted today. Bryce is doing my fundraising along with Lauren Rakolta, so we're starting the process."
Currently, Knollenberg's home in Troy is in the 9th Congressional District, the only district completely within Oakland County borders.
But what that district will look like in 2012, or whether it'll even be assigned the same district number, is open for speculation as state House and Senate committees begin the redistricting process.
"Certainly all the members of Congress face that uncertainty, not knowing what the districts will look like," Knollenberg said.
The process of drawing new boundaries involves redistricting committees in both the state House and Senate drawing new boundaries using 2010 U.S. Census data that was just provided to the states.
Michigan is losing one of its 15 congressional districts as the only state in the country to lose population.
Knollenberg said the computer modeling programs that will be used by House Democrats, House Republicans, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans to forge a map of new boundaries probably won't be available until some time in the next couple of weeks.
Eventually, the Republican-controlled Legislature will have to agree on a plan.
"I suspect we'll see something shape up in May or June," Knollenberg said. "Obviously we're fighting the budget battles as well. Certainly, the process can begin as soon as the software arrives."
Knollenberg said the goal is to produce a plan that meets the legal requirements that districts be the same size, compact and respect municipal boundaries.
The goal, he said, is also a plan that respects the federal Voting Rights Act in which Michigan gets two districts in which minorities are the majority, and can withstand a legal challenge.
"I think that's the motivation of the Legislature," Knollenberg said.
With Detroit losing 25 percent of its population over the last decade, it's likely that two of the districts representing Detroit will have to expand into the neighboring suburban counties of Oakland and Macomb.
It may also mean that there may be not be one congressional district solely representing Oakland County, as is the case now.
"It means the 9th district will have to move north, that's the only place it can really go," Knollenberg said. "Until we get the actual census numbers, it's difficult to make a prediction of how it's carved out.
"I just know it's going to be realigned and more than likely, the Detroit delegation is going to have to move into the southern part of Oakland and Macomb counties," Knollenberg said.
Knollenberg, however, believes his likely and eventual opponent will be Peters, who lives in neighboring Bloomfield Township and who unseated his father, Rep. Joe Knollenberg, in 2008 and then won re-election in 2010.
"Honestly, the likely opponent is Gary Peters and he's been starting his run since the day he won in November," Knollenberg said. "We thought it important to get in early.
"We know Mr. Peters is running someplace, so someone has to run against him," Knollenberg said. "We need to be prepared and that's what we're doing, getting ourselves prepared.
"Obviously the boundaries will shift, we know that for sure," he said. "We'll deal with how the boundaries shake out when they become final."
Knollenberg was elected to the state House in 2006 and re-elected in 2008 and 2010. He previously served as an Oakland County commissioner.
Peters, 52, is a former state senator and former Michigan Lottery Commissioner.
A spokesman for Peters had no immediate comment on Knollenberg's plans.
Republican Rocky Raczkowski, who lost to Peters in the 2010 race for the congressional seat, also said he's planning to run for Congress again.
He said he has no problems with Knollenberg sitting on the committee that's drawing the new congressional districts.
"It really doesn't matter," Raczkowski said. "If I thought Marty was the most qualified candidate, I wouldn't be running.
"I'm already filed," he said. "We're ready to put in our petitions once the boundaries are determined."
Contact Charles Crumm at 248-745-4649, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @crummc and on Facebook.