Minnesota Parties Debate Redistricting plans

Attorneys representing Minnesota’s Republican and Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) parties spoke before a special panel of the Minnesota Supreme Court on January 4 in a hearing concerning the placement of Minnesota’s new legislative boundaries.

While redistricting in Minnesota is usually determined by the legislature and the Governor, DFL governor Mark Dayton vetoed the plans passed by the Republican dominated House and Senate this past fall. The case has gone before a special panel for mediation.

The five-member panel, which met in St. Paul, spent significant time hearing about three maps – one by Republicans, one by the DFL, and one by a group of “progressive” DFLers. Two other proposals were mentioned – one by the League of Women voters and another by a county auditor’s elections committee, but were not the focus of the hearing.

Both the Republican and DFL maps have been criticized as protecting the seats of incumbent representatives. The Republican proposal makes minimal changes to current lines and would keep all congressional incumbents within their current districts. The plan submitted by the DFL makes large changes to current districts, but those changes only affect two incumbents, both of whom are Minnesota’s only female Representatives. The DFL map is controversial because it places Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann in the same 4th district as Democrat Betty McCullom.

Bachmann, who dropped out of the 2012 presidential race last week following a disappointing performance in the Iowa Republican Caucus, has not made any official statement as to whether or not she plans to run for a fourth congressional term this November.

With the November elections looming, district boundaries will have to be determined soon. If the governor and legislature are unable to reach an agreement on a map by February 21, the Court will release its own map.

Maps of the GOP and DFL redistricting proposals can be viewed on the Politics in Minnesota website: http://politicsinminnesota.com/2011/11/minnesota-redistricting-panel-gets-gop-dfl-political-maps/

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