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Minnesota redistricting catches Washington Post’s eye

Minnesota’s redistricting battle — which is getting overshadowed by the budget battle — gets attention today in the Washington Post’s The Fix blog, with particular emphasis on how it might affect freshman U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack.

The story says:

With the Republican state legislature and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton unable to find any common ground on redistricting, the matter is headed for the courts. Again.

Twisting in the wind is political newcomer Cravaack, a relative unknown whose win in a Democratic-leaning northern Minnesota district last year came as a surprise to almost everyone — including many GOP strategists.

 Cravaack’s fate is centered on the Iron Range — the northeastern part of the state with one of the world’s largest concentrations of iron ore.

Other than Cravaack in the 8th, the likely redistricting outcomes shouldn’t have too much affect on how the other seven districts roll, the story says:

* Rep. Collin Peterson: The former Agriculture Committee chairman is virtually unbeatable in a general election. The interesting thing here is that the GOP-proposed map is probably better for Democrats’ long term prospects pf holding the seat. If Peterson retires (he turns 67 next week), the GOP would have a great chance to win his current district; that chance would be lessened if it’s transformed into a northern, Iron Range district. Peterson, though, given how safe he is, may want to keep his current district. If he took on the Iron Range, he could face a primary.

* Rep. Michele Bachmann: Her suburban/exurban 6th district runs across the northern end of the Twin Cities and is likely to remain conservative-leaning no matter what. One thing to keep an eye on: She has said she’s not running for reelection during her presidential campaign (she could easily jump back if she doesn’t win the nomination, though), and Cravaack doesn’t live far away. Does he run in this district if he gets a tough shake from the courts?

* Rep. Erik Paulsen (R): Democrats attempted to win his suburban Minneapolis 3rd district seat when it was open in 2008, but Paulsen has proven a solid campaigner. With Minneapolis Rep. Keith Ellison’s (D) 5th district needing to pick up significant territory and Bachmann’s district needing to shed population, Paulsen has two avenues for making his district more conservative. The GOP proposal tried to extend Paulsen out west into conservative counties currently held by Peterson and Rep. John Kline (R), but that may be wishful thinking.

* Rep. Tim Walz (D): Republicans tried to give Walz everything south of the Minnesota River in southwestern Minnesota. But that was more of an effort to move things around for Cravaack and Paulsen, and didn’t change things much for Walz. Walz’s swing 1st district along the southern border is very likely to stay in the same georgaphic territory and remain competitive.

* [Rep. Keith] Ellison and Rep. Betty McCollum (D): Both need their urban districts (McCollum represents St. Paul) to pick up population and will remain safe. There had been some talk of the GOP pushing for one combined Minneapolis-St. Paul district, but that would be pretty drastic and could compromise the three GOP-held districts in the suburbs and exurbs. And the courts almost definitely won’t do that.

* Rep. John Kline (R): The south suburban 2nd district gave Obama 48 percent in 2008 and may switch a county here or there. But this has been the only GOP-held district that Democrats haven’t made a real effort to grab in recent years. And it will likely stay that way.

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