DFL redistricting map pits McCollum against Bachmann

A redesigned congressional district map proposed by the Minnesota DFL Party on Friday would put Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann in one district beginning next election. McCollum’s chief of staff called the map “hyper partisan and bizarre.”

The map would create a single district out of Washington and Ramsey counties, meaning if each incumbent chose to run for re-election in 2012, they’d run against against one another in a newly designed 4th District. Roughly 62 percent of the newly designed district voted for Barack Obama in 2008, according to a MinnPost analysis.

McCollum currently represents Minnesota’s 4th District, which consists of St. Paul and its inner suburbs. Bachmann represents the 6th District, which starts at the Minnesota-Wisconsin border in Washington County, where Bachmann lives, and curves around the Twin Cities to the northwest, up through St. Cloud.

“The DFL Chair and his high paid lawyers have proposed a congressional map to the redistricting panel that is hyper-partisan and bizarre,” McCollum’s chief of staff Bill Harper said in a statement. “Their plan ignores the judge’s redistricting criteria and it insults established communities of interest, particularly in the East Metro. Congresswoman McCollum has faith in the judges on the panel to draw fair political boundaries that will serve the best interests of all Minnesotans.”

A Bachmann spokeswoman declined to comment on the new map. The third-term congresswoman has not yet decided whether she’ll seek re-election, since she’s currently running for president.

Under the DFL’s plan, Rep. Chip Cravaack would represent the new 6th District, which would stretch from Sterns County to Chisago County, where Cravaack lives. It would be a much safer for the freshman Republican than the one he currently represents, the Democratic-leaning 8th, which would be an open seat in the 2012 election under the DFL plan.

Lawmakers are engaged in their once-decennial fight over redrawing the state’s congressional and legislative district boundaries. The task has fallen to a court panel since the Republican-led Legislature and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton failed to agree on a map during the legislative session.

The DFL map is one of three submitted to the court on Friday. Republicans submitted a plan identical to the one the Legislature passed and Dayton vetoed in May. That plan creates eight safe districts — four for each party — by pulling what is now the 7th District across the northern portions of the state. Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, who has represented the (currently vertical) 7th District since 1991, was highly critical of the plan.

A third map, submitted by a Democratic lawyer not associated with the DFL, would stretch Peterson’s district down the entire western border of the state. The 2nd District would bleed into the middle portions of the Minnesota and the 1st District would gain territory to the north. Every incumbent would continue to represent their current district. All documents submitted to the panel are available here.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Ross Williams on 11/18/2011 - 09:14 pm.

    Another reminder to MnPOST “journalists”, there is no legal requirement that congressional representatives live in the district they represent. Only that they be residents of the state the district is in.

  2. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/19/2011 - 09:21 am.

    A fascinating map, that might be a lot more attractive to courts than politicians. In general, having more contestable districts is an appealing idea, but not necessarily to incumbents. Redistricting can be the most partisan of exercises, but bear in mind that all elected politicians irrespective of party, have a vested interest in the status quo, since it was under the status quo ante that they got elected.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/19/2011 - 09:26 am.

    It wouldn’t be a Saturday morning without a cheap political shot. Although there is no requirement that I am aware of that a Congressman must live in his district, he is required to live in the state. A Minnesota representative cannot live in New Hampshire, for example.

  4. Submitted by Robert Langford on 11/19/2011 - 09:53 am.

    Ross, if your point is that the article referred to the present Congresspeople by the districts they represent and the look of the proposed district they would be in, most of us do not need to have explicit what we already know. Other than that, don’t you agree that this is a good explanation in understandable terms of a very complex subject? Your quotation marks are offensive to me as a reader, but mostly simply stupid.

  5. Submitted by Francis Ferrell on 11/19/2011 - 03:32 pm.

    Anyway you look at this decade’s Constitutionally mandated MN gerrymandering [redistricting]debacle this is going to make history and probably mess up MN politics for years to come. I wonder if Gov. Elbert Gerry [D-Mass] in 1812 realized his actions, in redistricting Massachusetts, to his advantage would 200 years later cause a political mess for Minnesota and the USA in general?

    When the legal and judicial smoke clears on Minnesota’s redistricting mess will justice prevail or will “gerrymandering” take on new historical connotations?

    Think about it. If the candidates, like Bachmann vs McCollum, come together in an electoral showdown “it ain’t going to be petty!”[*] [*Will Rogers] Just look at the extreme GOP political diversity that will be opened in the Bachmann camp. GOP/T-Bags vs traditional (MN)GOP loyalists. Betty McCollum will have an election fight on her hands but probably the Democrats would prevail over a split district GOP. Bachmann isn’t well liked in St.Paul and the present MN 4th District. This is going to be a fun election time!!!

    I wonder if Jesse V. will surface to add to the political melee? Now that would be interesting.

  6. Submitted by Francis Ferrell on 11/19/2011 - 10:51 pm.

    Just a reminder, Jesse Ventura, who lives in the old 6th district boundaries, we live in the new 4th District. I wonder if the ersatz map redrawers thought of that?

  7. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/21/2011 - 09:39 am.

    My representative, Betty McCollum is having a meltdown. She’s publicly confronted her party, probably the first time ever.

    The fear of having to not only campaign, but campaign against the Juggernaught known as Michele Bachmann has, if nothing else, dispelled the rumor that Rep McCollum is really an animated cartoon, remotely controlled by a rotating crew of Mac/Groveland 6th graders…she’s jumpin’!

  8. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/21/2011 - 11:28 am.

    “The fear of having to not only campaign, but campaign against the Juggernaught known as Michele Bachmann . . .”

    Yes, “juggernaught” is an apt description of Michelle Bachmann: a lot of noise, but what’s behind it all? “Naught!”

    If Rep. Bachmann were to run anywhere outside of her carefully gerrymanderd district, she would not be defeated so much as she would be humiliated. It is to Rep. McCollum’s credit that she disapproves of the partisan chicanery of redistricting, even if it would give her such an easy win. Partisan considerations (including which incumbent lives where) shold be taken out of redistricting, the way it’s done in Iowa.

    Too bad Elbrige Gerry–signer of the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation, Vice President of the US–should be remembered only at redistricting time. The voters of the Sixth District could be Exhibit A for his coment that “The people do not want virtue, but are dupes of pretended patriots.”

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/21/2011 - 01:29 pm.

    Something to think about with the DFL map. It seems to put more districts in play, and that’s something that might be more faithful to the guidelines, and therefore more attractive to judges. The legislature has the first word on redistricting; if it reaches an agreement the current legal action becomes moot. While I think such an agreement is unlikely, an incumbent neutral proposal might at least increase the pressure to enter into such an agreement.

    The thing to understand about redistricting is that while it is intensely political, it also involves a conflict between partisanship and incumbency. One thing we know for sure is that regardless of party, every single legislator has found a way to be successful under the status quo, and has a vested interest in changing it as little as possible.

  10. Submitted by Todd Stump on 11/22/2011 - 11:43 am.

    Here’s a question:
    Suppose the state has a dead-even election, like Franken vs Coleman or Dayton vs Emmer. How many of Minnesota’s 8 CDs should side with each respective candidate?

    I wager that GOPers and DFLers would both agree that the answer is 4.

    Yet, for these two close elections referenced above, both the DFL map submitted by Ken Martin AND the GOP map submitted by Hippert would have resulted in the Republican candidate winning 5 to the Democrat’s mere 3.

    The major difference is that the GOP map makes each of their 5 seats even more Republican by packing DFL voters into only 3 districts, whereas the DFL map tries to move the 1st and 3rd Districts closer to the state’s average. They still have a Republican lean, even in the DFL map.

    A DFL-leaning map would have unpacked Minneapolis and St. Paul, allowing DFL-heavy urban and inner-ring suburban precincts to outvote the GOP-heavy exurbs in both the 2nd and 3rd, but this did not occur. Instead, they offered a Minnesota-nice map that is fair to Republicans and independents.

    So how is that partisan again, particularly within a state that leans Democratic on a national level?

  11. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/22/2011 - 03:14 pm.

    Oddly enough, RB, your description of Rep. Bachmann more closely fits Betty’s career. After 12 years, she just pssed her first piece of legislation, the “International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act” which is not even addressed towards the US.

    Do nothing? Oh yeah, that’s my gal!

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