Michigan Faces a Hard Job of Cutting. Nearly half the states either gained or lost in population in the last census. Here's a look at how they stand in the turbulent process of creating new districts. MICHIGAN, ILLINOIS

HE two big losers in the Midwest are Michigan and Illinois.Michigan faces the unenviable task of cutting two congressional seats from a powerful and high-profile collection of US representatives. The task was so difficult that legislators were unable to reach a compromise and handed the job over to a panel of three federal judges. Their task won't become any easier. The Michigan delegation in the US House includes the Democratic chairmen of three major committees, the chief deputy majority whip, a powerful member of the Appropriations Committee, and three subcommittee chairmen. The delegation also includes the ranking Republican member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. The two black congressmen are also safe. Three-judge panels are a gamble for both parties, says John Chamberlin, a political science professor at the University of Michigan. Most speculation revolves around eliminating the district of Sander M. Levin, a five-term Democrat from northwest Detroit, and either another Democrat from the Detroit area or a Republican from a rural area. Illinois, like Michigan, has handed the job of congressional redistricting to a three-judge panel. The panel may have an easier time of deciding which district to cut downstate, since Rep. Edward Madigan became US secretary of agriculture. His Republican replacement carries little clout. Cutting a seat in the Chicago area will be more difficult, in part because of the protection afforded to minority districts, in part because there is growing pressure from Hispanic groups to create a majority Hispanic di strict. The most likely district to eliminate would be Frank Annunzio's on Chicago's Northwest side, says Thomas Littlewood, a professor of journalism at the University of Illinois. Presumably, powerful members of the Illinois delegation, especially Dan Rostenkowski, would be spared the ax. But "that isn't the way it necessarily works. The federal judges are under none of the normal political pressures to protect incumbents," Littlewood says.

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