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House passes ‘doomed’ congressional redistricting plan

Throughout last fall’s campaign, much was made by both parties of how important it was to win because the winners in November would get to redraw the state’s political map for the next 10 years.

Turns out, the elections will almost certainly have no impact on the redistricting map.

Today, House Republicans passed a congressional district map that would dramatically change the 7th and 8th Congressional Districts. But like House Republicans’ earlier vote for a legislative redistricting map, this one was strictly along party lines.

From the start of the session, Gov. Mark Dayton has promised he will veto any redistricting maps that don’t have substantial bipartisan support. This morning’s 71-61 vote doesn’t meet that criterion, meaning the redistricting process almost certainly is again going to be handled by the courts, as it has for most of the last century.

There was plenty of finger-pointing going around as to why Republicans and DFLers can’t get this job done.

Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, blamed Republicans. Marquart, who was on the redistricting committee, said that DFLers purposely did not draw up their own map.

“I thought we were going to do things differently this time,” Marquart said. “I thought for the first time in 100 years, we’d put together a people’s map that would represent all the people of Minnesota, not either of the parties.”

But, he said, input from DFLers was not embraced. And the public had virtually no chance to participate in public hearings about the map, Marquart and a number of other DFLers said.

Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, who headed the House Redistricting Committee, begged to differ with DFLers’ assessment.

DFLers, she said, offered little input, and the public showed little interest in the process.

“We sent out letters to townships, minority communities, mayors,” she said. “We reached out to everyone and his brother. We traveled to three communities.”

There wasn’t great feedback, she implied, but she described the map as “nonpartisan.”

The controversial change in the 8th District, which stretches across the upper third of the state from Lake Superior to the border of the Dakotas, makes sense “because it spans the Canadian border.”

The restructuring of the 7th District, which would appears to protect Rep. Chip Cravaack, makes sense because of population shifts that show more and more people moving to the metro area, she said.

But, given what a huge deal redistricting was in minds of party insiders during the elections, the debate was short and mostly sweet this morning.

And the outcome was absolutely predictable.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Elaine Leach on 05/14/2011 - 04:49 pm.

    Wasn’t it Rep. Anderson who sharply rejected the suggestion of a timely redistricting process offered by seasoned legislators Moe and Sviggum?

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