Lawmakers study new districts with mixed reactions

Amos Briggs
Amos Briggs, communications director for the Democratic Farmer Labor Party carries a Minnesota redistricting map after they were printed at the State Capitol Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP Photo/Jim Mone

Reverberations from the release of new political maps are still being felt across Minnesota, and especially inside the State Capitol where lawmakers have been scrambling to figure out their new home districts.

Under the plan released Tuesday by a court-appointed panel, incumbent legislators are paired up against colleagues in 23 of Minnesota's 201 legislative districts.

Minnesota's new legislative boundaries pair 16 incumbent senators and 30 incumbent state representatives. There are eight open Senate seats and 15 open House districts.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

More On Minnesota Redistricting
Legislative redistricting maps
Interactive map: Find your representative

One of the Senate pairings is in south Minneapolis, where two incumbents, DFLers Scott Dibble and Ken Kelash, are now in the same district. Kelash, who currently is serving his second term, said he was disappointed with the new political map.

"I don't like it. It was one of those things that I knew that could happen, and it happens every 10 years in political life," Kelash said. "So you know, I've got some decisions I've got to make. I love the work I do. I'm from Richfield, so I may look into moving to Richfield or doing something like that."


In some other senate districts, Republicans are paired against each other. Sen Bill Ingebrigtsen of Alexandria is now in the same district as Sen. Gretchen Hoffman of Vergas. Ingebrigtsen said he was still studying the new boundaries.

"I certainly intend on coming back next year. But we'll have to see what happens. I mean it's a little early. It's a little early to tell," Ingebrigtsen said. "We'll have to sit down and talk, and that's what we'll probably be doing here in the next few hours."

In the House, one Republican-versus-Republican pairing pits House Majority Leader Matt Dean of Dellwood against Rep. Carol McFarlane of White Bear Lake. McFarlane was studying the map, but she said she was accepting of the new boundaries.

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

McFarlane did not indicate whether she plans to run against Dean. In a cross-party pairing, Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township is in the same district as Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick, R-Deer River. Anzelc said the district lines changed greatly, but he is ready to meet some new voters.

"It's moved considerably to the south and to the west. The big addition is the city of Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids is a great town. I do all my shopping there," Anzelc said. "I look forward to representing them."

The court panel also drew new boundaries for Minnesota's eight congressional districts. That map pairs incumbent DFL Rep. Betty McCollum and Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in the 4th District. But Bachmann quickly announced she will run for re-election in the newly configured 6th district. Bachmann said the new 6th district is "essentially unchanged," even though it no longer encompasses her Stillwater home.

"We've had just overwhelming support. People are very grateful. I'm the first Republican woman ever to get elected to Congress out of Minnesota and I have taken that very common sense Minnesota voice, all across the country," Bachmann said. "The voice of the people I represent has been amplified."

Bachmann said she has not decided if she will move into the 6th district. The law does not require her to do so.

McCollum initially objected to a DFL redistricting plan that paired her with Bachmann, but now says she looks forward to a district that now expands eastward to the St. Croix River. McCollum also made light of the matchup against Bachmann that will no longer take place.

"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.

Redistricting brought less dramatic change to the state's other congressional boundaries, although the 1st District swapped a few counties on the southern border. The 2nd District lost GOP-leaning Carver County. The 3rd District picked up some new Republican territory and the 5th is now even more heavily DFL. The 7th and 8th Districts are essentially unchanged.