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GOP unveils (another) bad congressional map

by Joe Bodell on May 9, 2011 · 29 comments

The GOP, through scion Sarah Anderson, has revealed their non-starter plan for revamping Minnesota’s congressional map.

The map has several issues. Tim Walz’s First district actually isn’t half bad — the district has lost population, and needs to absorb some. The GOP’s plan accomplishes this by tying in Redwood, Yellow Medicine, and several other counties currently in the southern part of CD7.

CD2 also doesn’t change dramatically — it expands to the west a little and loses some areas of Glencoe McLeod and Carver Counties, which have grown in the past ten years.

CD3 is a joke. It’s perfectly fine to admit that the west metro is a tough area to tie into a single district — either you include part of Anoka County along with Bloomington, on opposite sides of the cities, or absorb some areas further to the west, but Glencoe McLeod County has absolutely nothing to do with the middle-ring suburbs in Hennepin County. The current boundary, which includes areas to the north like Coon Rapids, would be preferable to this.

CDs 4 and 5 appear to be about the same as they are currently. Amazingly, the GOP appears to have gone against its own historical platform plank of packing Minneapolis and St. Paul into a single district, and admitted to itself that such a plan would be struck down faster than you can say “Voting Rights Act.”

CD6 and CD7 are going to be a problem as well. Since large areas in CD6 have grown rapidly in the past decade, that district has to shrink — but since this is a GOP plan, it also has to be able to protect Michele Bachmann in the event that her presidential campaign/media efforts/concert tour don’t pan out. The result is what appears to be a weaker GOP lean for CD6 (assuming that a candidate like Bachmann can keep it together) and a CD7 that stretches from east to west across the state, splitting agricultural areas in western Minnesota in two.

This also forces CD8 to stretch across the state from Duluth and the Arrowhead all the way to North Dakota. *This means that current CD8 Representative Chip Cravaack would reside in CD7 — not a problem constitutionally, but living outside one’s district is generally not seen as a positive thing. Would Cravaack run against Collin Peterson and try to turn his 2010 trick a second time, or would he move to remain in CD8, which might be slightly better for a GOP candidate with northwestern areas tied in?

Tarryl Clark is also, no doubt, poring over this map (as she will other proposals) to see what effect it will have on her recently announced bid for CD8 — exactly where will CD8 be?

In any case, she probably won’t have to worry about this map getting implemented. Recent redistricting adventures have indicated a preference among the powers-that-be for a single “across the state” district — in the 2002 districts, that was CD1, but this map has three. It splits communities of interest, creates some weird shapes in the center of the state, and looks a little too much like an incumbent protection racket instead of a fair assessment of population shifts.

dyna May 9, 2011 at 9:06 pm

In Lyon County!

dyna May 10, 2011 at 12:27 am

We can’t complain here in Lyon County… They took red Brown County out of our senate district and gave us light blue Lac Que Parle, Chippewa, Swift, and Yellow Medicine Counties. The new SD16 they create was carried by Obama by around 2-3%. The A side is home to DFL reps Falk and Koenen, so we’ve already got a good “bench” here. The B side is redrawn to create a more favorable seat for repug backbencher “Chris Swede”, who is apparently being rewarded for his blind loyalty. The senate district pits DFL verteran Kubly and Republican 1st termer Dahms. Dahms has been more of an old school republican than the party leadership likes, perhaps putting him in a race with a DFL incumbent in a bluer district is retaliation for not toeing the rabid repug party line tightly enough?

Suffice to see, we Lyon County DFLers are getting excited!  

NorthernMNer May 9, 2011 at 9:20 pm

The Red River Valley with the Iron Range to make the 8th CD.  Its fate is sealed with a four letter word from Dayton’s pen now.  

Dana Houle May 9, 2011 at 9:40 pm

You’re referring to the 7th as Peterson’s. But doesn’t he live in Detroit Lakes? And if so, doesn’t that mean that if he doesn’t move south to stay in what is currently the majority of his district but instead stays put that he would in fact end up with a MORE Democratic district than he currently represents?  

For incumbent protection reasons, if this map or something close to it is what is passed, it may serve Cravaack best to run in the 7th and Peterson to run in the 8th.

I looked up Tarryl Clark’s address, and she’s about 1 mile inside the 7th. Meaning she just wasted money on that place in Duluth, unless she wants to run against Peterson. If she wants to run against Craavack, she doesn’t need to move anywhere (but will be contesting a much more Republican seat), and if she wants to run against Bachmann, she has to move a mile or more East (and face charges that she’d rather live in Duluth than in the district she ran in before).  

dyna May 10, 2011 at 12:28 am

You going to be rejoining us for the 2012 campaign cycle?

bmetzler May 9, 2011 at 9:43 pm

According to wikipedia, Peterson’s residency is in Detroit Lakes, and Becker County has been conveniently located north of the 8th district boundary.  So it seems like the Republicans have redistricted Peterson into the new “8th” leaving Cravaack to run as the sole incumbent in the new “7th.”      

Also, since St Cloud is now in the 7th, removing those problematic college students from Bachmann’s “safe” 6th district, Tarryl Clark could still run against Cravaack without having to bother relocating. She just have to change the district number on her new campaign materials.

Dana Houle May 9, 2011 at 10:07 pm

The current 8th is D+3, the current 7th is R+5. Under this proposed map, Cravaack gets a much more Repub district to run in than the one in which he was elected and in which Clark assumed she’d be running against him. And if Peterson has any interest in staying in Congress, it just got really easy for him to get reelected in a general.  

Minnesota Brown May 9, 2011 at 9:46 pm

On this map Peterson would live in MN8, Cravaack in CD7. They’d swap. Clark could run in 7 or 8, but looks like she just doubled down on 8. Peterson would have to decide whether he retires or learns to speak Ranger.

The courts have struck down any plan that puts the Red River Valley in with Duluth/the Range. That’s possible this time as well. In truth MN8 will probably look very similar to what it is today. That’s merely my guess.

Dana Houle May 9, 2011 at 10:09 pm

…a plan that puts the Red River Valley in with the Range? What was the rationale?  

NorthernMNer May 9, 2011 at 10:12 pm

differences in economic base and cultural norms.  My part of MN has more in common with eastern North Dakota then the NE segment of MN.  

Dana Houle May 9, 2011 at 10:26 pm

How long ago? Was it 2002, or an earlier cycle?

And since the Range just doesn’t have the population share it used to have, it’s going to have to extend somewhere much further than the Range, Arrowhead and Duluth. At some point it’s going to have to be combined with parts of the state with which it doesn’t have much in common. You could make an argument that if you’re going to extend in some direction, there’s more of a community of interest between the Range and the Red River Valley than there is between the Range and Anoka or Washington counties.  

NorthernMNer May 9, 2011 at 10:37 pm

that the current 8th needs to gain that much more population to get to parity.  I think MPR had it at under 3,000 people to get there, which isn’t too much compared to the numbers we lost in the 7th.  Take a look:


I would agree that we have more in common with the Range then the exurban or suburban areas now, certainly.  Historically, however, the RRV has been much more devoted to agriculture and ag. service sectors, and politically is more conservative and less friendly to labor then the Duluth/Range areas.  

NorthernMNer May 9, 2011 at 10:10 pm

this map were to hold (which it most certainly won’t) I think Tarryl would be gently reminded not to try and primary Collin Peterson.

But you’re right, it is more then tradition to avoid combining the Duluth/Range with the RRV.  I can’t see this as anything more then buzz-generating veto bait.  

TonyAngelo May 10, 2011 at 1:18 am

doesn’t use a plan submitted by a legislative caucus doesn’t mean that the court struck it down. There is nothing that I can see about the GOP map that would not pass legal muster.

dyna May 10, 2011 at 2:14 am

For example, I expect the repug’s new legislative district lines for SW MN to survive in the final court drawn map. Some other parts of the state have clear shenanigans and will be redrawn by the courts.

keewatinrose May 10, 2011 at 2:48 am

The courts didn’t strike down the previous plans combining all of northern Minnesota. They rejected them – there’s a difference.

TonyAngelo May 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm

In 2001 the GOP plans never passed the legislature or were signed by the Governor, they were simply submitted to the court so they could review all the different plans. Like they usually do, the court just went ahead and drew their own map though.

Their is nothing about CD8 in the Anderson plan that could be legally challenged if it was signed by Dayton.

MinnesotaBulldog May 9, 2011 at 11:00 pm

On this map, I wouldn’t see Peterson fitting in too well in the new 8th. He just seems far too Blue Dog for Duluth and the Range. Outside of the whole carpetbagger problem, it would seem that Tarryl would be a better ideological fit with with this new 8th district than Peterson.

The new 7th seems unwinnable by any Dem but Peterson. St Cloud is not enough to hold off the rest of the district. Admittedly, I’m not a huge Peterson fan, but if this map held, I’d rather see Peterson move a few miles south to take on Cravaack.

As for the 6th, it looks as if it loses most of St Cloud and the western half of Woodbury, but gains Cottage Grove. The western part of Woodbury is at least somewhat more progressive than the eastern part. So not sure what to make of that overall.

Between this map and the legislative map, Woodbury gets hosed over big time. Two congressional districts, two senate districts, three legislative districts, and the congressional lines don’t match the legislative lines, so conventions would just be a total mess, with precincts going here and there and every which where. Other suburbs, like White Bear Lake, have to deal with the same thing, but… ugh.

keewatinrose May 10, 2011 at 12:32 am

Peterson runs quite well in the new 8th. The Iron Range and the arrowhead region are much more socially conservative than Duluth or the North Shore.  

dyna May 10, 2011 at 12:44 am

And drinking? CD1 swaps some counties but still leans DFL for Walz. In CD2 Col. Klink, the good soldier, is rewarded for his (deriliction of) duty; Same for Paulsen in CD3. CDs 4 & 5 pick up more ‘burbs but stay reliably DFL. Bachman is rewarded with a redder CD6, but she may be distracted by bigger battles she can’t win like the Iowa caucusses and US Senate race. Cravaak somehow gets a reliably red district and is safe unless Peterson moves south a county. CD8 gets bluer, losing the red exurbs north of St.Paul and gaining bluish northwest Minnesota.

All that work, and the most the republicans have accomplished is maybe maintaining the 4/4 congressional delegation split…  

TonyAngelo May 10, 2011 at 1:24 am

There is almost no way to draw a map better than 4/4 for the GOP. A 5/3 map brings them squarely into dummymander territory, with margins so thin that the entire delegation could get washed away in a wave.

JML May 10, 2011 at 2:43 am

The MN GOP would love to maintain a 4/4 split, since they know they could easily lose 1 of those seats and if they really botch it up in a good DFL year they could lose another one.

This is an incumbent protection map that is designed to “save” Cravaack and keep the rest of their delegation safe, while possibly keeping CD1 in play. And while I find their designs for the north ridiculous, pulling Carver County (one the of the reddest in the state) out of CD2 makes going after John Kline, the Enemy of Teachers, Labor, & Working People easier.

Chris May 10, 2011 at 1:26 am

…and realized the best way to screw Dems is to keep Minneapolis and St. Paul as separate congressional districts.

By allowing 12.5% of the state’s population to dominate 25% of its congressional districts, the GOP ensures that the 3rd and a new 4th don’t emerge as suburban swing districts the Dems could actually win.

It’s hardly a voting rights issue. Combining Minneapolis and St. Paul puts our congressional representation on par with our demographics — as opposed to under- (or over-) representing the urban areas.

Certainly having two districts crossing the state goes against the court’s principles of a decade ago. The same principles also spelled out Duluth and the Red River Valley as distinct regions.

That said, this map is a case study in why legislative races matter.

JML May 10, 2011 at 2:36 am

Combining Mpls & St. Paul is a voting rights issue, at least as far as the federal government is concerned. “Packing” minorities into a single congressional district in order to dilute their voting power is not allowed. And putting both the Twin Cities into 1 district accomplishes just that. The courts aren’t concern with partisan balancing (nor should they be). You’re not wrong that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the DFL to build suburban swing districts they win in, but that’s not a good enough reason to overcome the VRA, the 14th amendment, etc.

But agree with you 100% that this is a great reminder why legislative races matter, and why 2010 was a debacle despite winning the governor’s race.

Chris May 10, 2011 at 7:43 am

…but “packing” the 12.5% of the state’s urban population into 12.5% of the districts isn’t diluting voter power below proportion of the population.

There are certainly lots of instances where redistricting has been used to intentionally reduce the power of minority populations or urban centers below their overall share of a state’s population. Combining MSP in Minnesota would not create that discriminatory result.

I keep looking at these maps and can’t get over how laughable it is that we’re a swing state looking at maybe two competitive congressional races next year.

The only way to break up the laughably Republican suburban districts is to give up this article of faith that Minneapolis and St. Paul have to be separate.

(From a DFL side, too, I’d love to have Keith Ellison doing GOTV in a Dem. super district.)

Alec May 10, 2011 at 8:16 am

CD 4 will, by law, always have 1/8 of the population, and 1/8 of our reps. CD 5 will always have 1/8 of the population and 1/8 of the reps.

1/8 + 1/8 = 1/4 of the population for the two districts combined.

1/8 of our reps + 1/8 of our reps = 1/4 of our reps.

How do you figure that two CD’s only have 12.5% of the population?

Are you saying that just the cities proper have exactly a CD’s worth of people? Also, the minority communities in St. Paul are much different than Minneapolis.  

Joe Bodell May 10, 2011 at 5:41 pm

…to the population of Minneapolis and St. Paul proper, not the population of CDs 4 and 5. Minneapolis and St. Paul together have just a little less than the proper number (~400,000 + ~275,000 = ~675,000) but I agree with you that putting them together has serious legal implications, not to mention the political chances we take by giving up a solid DFL seat in Congress.

harry truman May 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm

the big questions with this stuff is “does it matter at all?”

does history show the courts taking any of the partisan maps drawn before (by the legislature and governor) into account when they draw their own?  my sense is that they don’t and any similarity from map to map is coincidental…

Diana Raabe May 11, 2011 at 3:59 am

Bachmann’s not going to be so “safe” with more of Coon Rapids and less of what they want to give to Cravaack. Plus, isn’t the new 6th smaller? I’d almost prefer to see Clark run against her again.

CD3 is pretty blue toward the north end. We’ve had DFLers Hortman, Dittrich, and up until last year Sen. Foley holding pretty strong positions. Giving part of that to the 6th will, of course, hurt the 3rd but might not bode well for the GOP in the current 6th.

In any event, we know this is going to court where there may be little enough reason to change much of anything.  

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