We’re supposed to get the final 2010 census numbers next week, which will determine which states will gain or lose congressional seats for the decade ahead. Minnesota remains on the bubble for possibly losing one of its eight U.S. House seats. And whether or not Minnesota loses a seat, all of the district boundaries will be redrawn to reflect intrastate population shifts. The Legislature gets the first crack at drawing the new boundaries. But in the likely event that the Repub-controlled Legislature can’t generate a map that DFL Gov. Dayton will approve, the new map will be drawn by a specially-appointed panel under court supervision.
David Wasserman, House Editor for the Cook Political Report, had speculated shrewdly on possible outcomes for all of the “bubble states.” Here’s his Minnesota chapter:
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.