'Independent' Michigan Redistricting Commissioner Actually a Bernie Bro

Anthony Eid now tasked with redrawing Michigan's political districts

Anthony Eid / Twitter
August 31, 2021

A Bernie Sanders-backing 29-year-old won a coveted position to redraw Michigan's political districts as part of a self-described "independent" bloc of redistricting commissioners that could redefine the state's electoral landscape for the next decade.

Medical student Anthony Eid applied to serve on the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission as an independent in May 2020, stating that he does not "affiliate with either the Republican or Democratic Party." A Washington Free Beacon review of his social media presence, however, shows that Eid has long supported members of the Democratic Party's liberal wing.

Eid now holds a crucial vote on the 13-member commission, which consists of four Democrats, four Republicans, and five independents. In order to enact a proposed map, at least seven members—including two Democrats, two Republicans, and two independents—must vote for it. The boundaries will stay in place until the next census in 2030.

Eid acknowledged in May that commission applicants were asked to "self-identify" their partisan affiliation. He also said he did "not think anyone who was selected misrepresented themselves." While Eid's application states he supports "candidates in each party … for different reasons," he has not publicly backed a Republican candidate for office. He did, however, write he was "proud to live in a state that voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary" in 2016. 

Months later, the "independent" endorsed then-Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison (D.)—who Sanders also backed—for Democratic National Committee chair. Eid went on to repeatedly promote Sanders-supported candidates, including Abdul El-Sayed, who ran to the left of Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer in a failed 2018 primary campaign.

Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission spokesman Edward Woods III told the Free Beacon the commission does not vet its commissioners' stated political affiliations.

"The Constitution only requires the applicant to identify their affiliation," Woods said. "In Michigan, it is either the Democrats, Republicans, or neither the Democrats nor Republicans. The Commission does not vet or choose candidates."

The state legislature has historically handled redistricting in Michigan. But in 2018, voters passed a ballot initiative granting that power to a newly created redistricting commission. The change came as Republicans held control of both chambers of the state legislature. 

The Michigan group behind the initiative, Voters Not Politicians, received $250,000 from the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which is chaired by former Obama administration attorney general Eric Holder. The group is directly affiliated with the Democratic Party, and former president Barack Obama is also involved in its efforts.

Eid was one of more than 9,300 Michigan voters who applied to serve on the committee. An outside firm hired by the state then randomly selected 200 semifinalists, consisting of 60 Democrats, 60 Republicans, and 80 independents. After leaders in the state legislature removed 20 applicants, the state randomly selected the commission's final 13 members. 

As a commissioner, Eid will help determine which part of the state will lose a representative, as Michigan is set to lose a House seat prior to the 2022 midterms due to slow population growth.

Eid's support of Ellison came just months after the Minnesota attorney general faced criticism over his ties to Nation of Islam leader and anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. Ellison defended Farrakhan and embraced black separatism in a string of columns he wrote in the late 1980s and 1990s. While he renounced the Nation of Islam in 2006 and claimed he had "no additional involvement" with Farrakhan, Ellison attended a private event with Farrakhan and then-Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in 2013.

In addition to his support for Sanders, Ellison, and El-Sayed, Eid retweeted messages from Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow that touted the Michigan Democrats' opposition to the confirmation of Trump administration Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Voters Not Politicians and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee did not return requests for comment.

Update 4:33 p.m.: This piece has been updated with a comment from the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Published under: Democrats , Michigan