Judges Tweak Minnesota Congressional Districts

Minnesota’s best-known U.S. House member will seek re-election in a district where she does not live and its top-ranking federal representative will run in slightly less friendly territory after a five-judge panel on Tuesday redrew congressional district lines.

For the most part, the judges Tuesday lived up to their pledge to make few changes as they balanced population in the state’s eight U.S. House districts. Three of the districts remain mostly rural.

Each district contains about 663,000 people.

Former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann immediately said she would run for re-election in the tweaked 6th Congressional District, saying in an interview that it has been home to her since she grew up in the Anoka area, which she called the heart of the district.

However, her Washington County home no longer is in the district.

“Just as we suspected, the liberal courts have changed the makeup of Minnesota’s congressional districts,” Bachmann wrote to supporters Tuesday afternoon. “The courts’ liberal bias was evident by cherry picking the districts and going so far as to draw my home — where I have raised my family and represented in Congress for the past six years — outside the new 6th district. “

She and U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a St. Paul Democrat, now live in the same district. However, a U.S. House member does not need to live in the district he or she represents.

Bachmann said she has told people for two weeks that she would run in whatever district retained the core of the 6th, a district that runs from Wisconsin in the east to St. Cloud in the west, mostly across the northern Twin Cities.

The top-ranking Minnesota representative, U.S. Rep. John Kline, saw his district slip north into Ramsey County, where Democrats are stronger than elsewhere in his southern Twin Cities and rural district.

The district served by Republican Kline, chairman of the House education and labor committee, also added Wabasha County on the south.

The only other significant change was extending Democrat McCollum’s St. Paul-based district to the east, into less Democratic northern Washington County.

The five-judge panel, which took on the redistricting task after the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton could not agree on new district lines, said it succeeded in its goal of keeping congressional districts much the same as they were the past 10 years.

“The plan established by the panel is a least-change plan to the extent feasible,” the judges said in their U.S. House map order.

But state Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, said the judges did a poor job of keeping communities of similar interests together.

“There is a lot that is just kind of puzzling at this moment,” said Anderson, who led the House redistricting committee.

Northeast Minnesota’s 8th congressional district, represented by Republican Chip Cravaack, changes the least, picking up more voters in the Bemidji area, although Bemidji itself remains in the 7th.

Western Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District served by Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson adds all or parts of three counties to the south and more of Stearns County but otherwise looks much the same as when the last map was drawn in 2002.

Two Minneapolis-area districts show relatively little change.