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Analyst: MN ‘on the bubble’ for losing a House seat

WASHINGTON — Minnesota is one of ten states “on the bubble” for the final five seats in the reapportioned House of Representatives, according to an analysis by Dave Wasserman, the House analyst for the Cook Political Report, using population estimates from Election Data Services.

Ten states are on the bubble for the last five seats. Minnesota is 3rd on the list, when ranked from likeliest to least likely, meaning that the experts tentatively think the Gopher State will squeak out the seat and maintain its current eight.

The exact Census population counts, and seat allotment, will be released Tuesday morning at the National Press Club in Washington. MinnPost will of course have comprehensive coverage of that announcement and analysis of exactly what it will mean for the state going forward.

Here’s Wasserman’s excellent analysis of where redistricting might stand with eight seats, and if we somehow slip to seven.

In 2002, Minnesota’s Republican House, DFL Senate, and Independence Party governor couldn’t agree on a plan when the state remained at eight seats, and a court-appointed panel drew the current lines, which produced a 4-4 tie in 2002 and again in 2010 after Republican Chip Cravaack unseated longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar in the Duluth-based 8th CD. Next year, Minnesota will have a Democratic governor and a Republican legislature. If the split authorities weren’t even able to decide on an eight-seat map in 2002, we can’t really expect there will be any hope for agreement if Minnesota loses a seat in reapportionment.

Even if Minnesota hangs on to its eighth seat, look for the parties to wrangle over how GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann’s district, which will need to shed 100,000 residents, should be redrawn. Most Republicans will want some of her Republican precincts to be added to the newly elected Cravaack’s slow-growing 8th CD. But Democrats would love to target the 8th CD and would surely protest making it much more Republican. Democratic Rep. Tim Walz’s 1st CD would also need to expand, and could take Democratic-leaning Northfield (Rice County) from GOP Rep. John Kline’s fast-growing 2nd CD.

If Minnesota loses its eighth seat, look for the fight to be decided by another specially appointed panel. Democrats would love to eliminate GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann’s 6th CD altogether, especially if she runs for Senate. The marginal St. Cloud area could be added to Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson’s district, marginal Washington County could be added to Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum’s 4th CD, GOP-leaning Anoka County could be added to Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen’s 3rd CD, and the remaining exurban counties could be merged with GOP Rep. John Kline’s 2nd CD. But Republicans will surely argue that the two slowest-growing districts, the St. Paul-based 4th CD and the Minneapolis-based 5th CD, should be combined. Such a plan could have the unwanted side effect of making the surrounding GOP-held districts more marginal. Don’t look to the legislature and governor to resolve this conundrum quickly.

Read Wasserman’s full report here.

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