New political boundaries drawn for Minnesota

Betty McCollum, Michele Bachmann
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum, left, and GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann. McCollum's district now effectively cuts Washington County in half and includes a part of the old 6th Congressional District and includes Stillwater, Bachmann's home.
Official photo

New congressional districts released today by a special court panel put DFL Rep. Betty McCollum and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann in the same district. Along with the congressional map, the panel released the new political boundaries the Minnesota Legislature.

The new maps prompted Bachmann to quickly announce that she will not run against McCollum in the newly configured 4th District and will instead run in the newly drawn 6th District. Bachmann currently represents most of the new 6th District, which includes the northern Twin Cities suburbs and Benton, Stearns and Sherburne Counties. Bachmann, who said many times during her campaign for president that she was a native Iowan, now says the new 6th is her home.

"The 6th Congressional District is where I have lived my life. I have effectively and faithfully taken that voice that I grew up with into the halls of Congress and that's the district where I intend to run," Bachmann said.

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Bachmann did not indicate if she intends to move into the new district, The law does not require a member of Congress to live in the district he or she represents.

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McCollum, who initially objected to the district when it was proposed by Democrats a few months ago, said she is looking forward to seeing the current St. Paul-based district extend east to the St. Croix River. She joked that she would have liked to see Bachmann continue to live in the district.

"I looked forward to representing her possibly, but she decided to run out of the district that I'm going to be running in," McCollum said.

The homes of the other members of Minnesota's delegation are in their new districts, but there are some changes: the 2nd District, represented by Republican John Kline, gave up conservative Carver County. The new district has fewer Republican voters and more DFL voters. Kline said he is not too worried about the changes.

"It was a swing district that leans Republican, and it is still a swing district that leans Republican," Kline said.

While Kline's district becomes more competitive, the 6th District and the 3rd District — the western Twin Cities suburban district represented by Republican Erik Paulsen — became more Republican. The 5th District, represented by DFL Rep. Keith Ellison, will be dominated even more by Democrats. Ellison believes he will need to turn out his Minneapolis-based constituents to help other Democrats, like President Barack Obama and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, win.

"I see us as having the heavy oar to pull when it comes to helping statewide candidates. We take that on real seriously," Ellison said.

The 8th Congressional District, which encompasses northeastern Minnesota, picked up a few cities in Beltrami County. Republican Chip Cravaack is pleased to see little change to his district.

"I'm glad the 8th District stayed the same. We've done a lot of work here and I'm looking forward to staying here and engaging even more," Cravaack said.

Democrats say they're confident that they can defeat Cravaack in November. Meanwhile, Republicans are bullish in Minnesota's 1st District, which is represented by DFLer Tim Walz. His district swapped a few counties along the southern border. Walz believes the new district has a greater number of DFL voters, but said he won't change the way he campaigns.

"I used to want to be able to say that this isn't my first rodeo, and now it's not. So I feel comfortable we'll do a good job with it," Walz said.

The 7th District, represented by DFLer Collin Peterson, will continue to cover most of western Minnesota.

The court panel also drew new maps for the Minnesota Legislature. The plan pairs 46 incumbents: 30 in the House and 16 in the Senate. Two of those paired up in the House are Republican Majority Leader Matt Dean and Rep. Carol McFarlane, R-White Bear Lake. McFarlane was still studying the map, and said she was accepting of the new boundaries.

"It looks like all of North Oaks is in there now, and Dellwood," McFarlane said. "So, basically I have the same district I have now, except for the south side of White Bear."

McFarlane did not say whether she will challenge Dean. Many other lawmakers were still poring over the new maps.

In the past as new districts have been announced, lawmakers typically react with some who will announce retirement, some will challenge the members they're paired up with and others will move into one of the 23 districts that currently have no incumbent. Every member of the Legislature and every member of the U.S. House is up for re-election this year.