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Preparing for the Minn. redistricting maps

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Proposed redistricting map
An independent proposal for Minnesota's congressional redistricting, submitted by Alan Weinblatt. A Minnesota five-judge panel will release the state's updated congressional and legislative district maps Feb. 21, 2012.
MN Courts

A Minnesota five-judge panel released the state's updated congressional and legislative district maps Tuesday afternoon. The big news: The maps pair Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and DFL Rep. Betty McCollum  in a redrawn 4th Congressional District .  You can look at the new district map at MPR News.

Earlier on The Daily Circuit, Kerri Miller talked with MPR News Reporter Tom Scheck about the pending release of the maps.

"Republicans are quietly confident, and someone actually told me last night that there will be no dancing in the end-zone today from our members because we don't want to act like we're rubbing it in," he said. "Right now this may benefit Republicans, but a couple years from now it could go the other way."

Minnesota didn't lose any congressional seats this year, but that doesn't mean the districts won't change significantly, Scheck said.

"There's a lot of questions about how the east metro is going to look," he said.

On Facebook, Derek Burrows Reise expressed concern about the new maps splitting communities apart.

"I hope the plans fairly keep similar communities together to the degree that's possible in order to have representatives that best represent the state," he wrote. "I'm disappointed that we haven't created a better, nonpartisan process for redistricting. That is the kind of thing that should be on the ballot, not voter ID laws in search of a problem."

Kerri also spoke with Peter Wattson, Gov. Mark Dayton's former General Counsel. He highlighted the issues surrounding the districts Bachmann and McCollum represent. Bachmann's district is overpopulated by almost 100,000 people and McCollum's district is under-populated by almost 50,000 people, he said.

"They're right next to each other, and it would be very logical to take the 50,000 out of the Bachmann's district and put it into the McCollum district," Wattson said.

In other states, redistricting disputes are creating new political realities for the upcoming presidential election.  Texas, with 155 delegates, would have been a big win during the upcoming Super Tuesday primaries, but the redistricting disputes are delaying the state's primary. State district maps need to be finalized 25 weeks before a primary election.

In Minnesota, courts have created the maps since 1881, Wattson said.

"We're one of five states who, in this last decade, had either the House or the Senate plan drawn by a court because our political branches could not agree," he said on Real Progress TV.

ASKED AND ANSWERED

Kerri Miller:I want to talk about the Michele Bachmann/Betty McCollum issue here, when former judge Eric Magnuson made the argument on behalf of the GOP, one of the things that he said to the judges panel was, 'Hey, you're pitting Minnesota's only two female members of Congress against each other,' and I wonder if you think the judge's panel takes that into account? Whether they think about that as they're looking at the lines? 

Peter Wattson: I think they probably do, although in a way they're not supposed to. The U.S. Supreme Court has been very clear most recently in the Texas case that when a court gets involved in drawing a plan, because of a failure in the legislative process or otherwise, the court should just focus on solving whatever constitutional or federal statutory problems are involved, and not get into social experiments, or just doing things that might be good from a policy perspective.