Minnesota House Democrats Publish New Congressional Card
Minnesota house The DFLers unveiled a new congressional card on Tuesday that would shift the district lines for the party’s weakest incumbent as the Democrats try to maintain control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.
The proposal, which takes into account population shifts over the past decade, is already facing stiff opposition from the GOP in a battle that is likely to end in court, with the Republican-controlled Senate expected to come up with its own plan. But it’s the first look at the proposed Congressional district changes after months of public submissions to a House redistribution committee that presented the cards on Tuesday.
“I believe what I am going to publish today is the ‘People’s Map’ because whenever possible it reflects so much of the testimony received,” said Chair of the Committee, Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown.
The plan would push Democratic MP Angie Craig’s Second Congressional District, which currently runs from the southern suburbs of the Twin Cities to Wabasha County, further into Washington County. At the same time, the southern portions of her district, including Goodhue and Wabasha counties, would move into the GOP-held First Congressional District of Minnesota.
“They made great contortions to protect Angie Craig and Dean Phillips,” said Gregg Peppin, a Republican strategist in Minnesota, adding that the proposal “radically reshaped the second and fourth to help Angie Craig” .
Craig is expected to face a tough re-election campaign in her second term after winning a tight contest last fall against Republican Tyler Kistner, who is running again.
“Minnesotans deserve districts that are fair, reasonable and respectful of interest groups,” said Craig in a statement, noting that the proposed house card is “another step in a process that is most likely to be decided by the courts.”
Both Craig and his Democratic colleague Phillips, who represents the suburb of the 3rd Ward, are already a focal point of the House GOP’s campaign arm as Republicans seek to regain control of the Chamber.
“We are confident that whatever the district, Angie Craig will lose her seat to Tyler Kistner in 2022,” Kistner’s campaign said Tuesday, before the proposed lines were released.
In the 2020 election, Minnesota voters sent four Democrats and four Republicans to the US House of Representatives, with DFL members holding seats in the Twin Cities and two suburbs. Republicans control the state’s sprawling rural districts.
Minnesota narrowly avoided losing a seat in Congress earlier this year after the 2020 census results and the nationwide reallocation of the 435 House seats. Delaying the census data earlier only increased the challenges of redrawing the maps. The Minnesota Legislature has a February 15 deadline to agree on new maps, and if not by then, the state courts can do the job as they have in the past.
House Redistribution GOP Leader Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, complained that “there was no Republican involvement in this card,” underscoring the partisan division that could make meeting the February 15 deadline difficult .
“We heard many times in early committee meetings that the goal was to actually get cards out of the committee and negotiate with the Senate and get cards on the governor’s desk in time for them to become law,” Torkelson said. “That’s not a step.”
Murphysaid Republicans had equal access to the committee’s testimony and 10 public trials across the state.
“I really believe we could get a bill out of the legislature this year if we work together,” Murphy said.
Public affairs strategist Todd Rapp, a former DFL party’s political director, said the proposal would make Craig’s seat more suburban. The 6th and 7th districts, meanwhile, would likely remain under GOP control for the next decade, he said.
Rapp said he believes the House Democrats wisely avoided drastic changes in order to retain some leverage in the redistribution process should it be brought back to court.
“If the legislature cannot come together – and I think the chances are against that they can come together – then the strategy is whether they can encourage the courts to at least show respect for the ideas that each legislature has brought up in front, ”said Rapp.
In June, the Minnesota Supreme Court appointed a special redistribution panel of five judges to review all challenges from newly formed state legislative and congressional districts. The panel held a series of public meetings over the past month to gather feedback in anticipation of the judicial intervention.
Under the February 15 deadline, the legislature has to agree on a plan and DFL Governor Tim Walz has to sign it in order to prevent the court from intervening.
The panel is in response to the latest in a decade-long tradition of legal proceedings that urge the state judicial system to draw the political maps of Minnesota based on arguments that the legislature itself has not done so since at least 1971.
Peter Wattson, a former longtime Senate attorney and general counsel to Governor Mark Dayton, is among the Minnesota voters to bring the charges to court this year. Given Minnesota’s divided legislature, he has not expected any change in the way redistribution has taken place in half a century.
“So I suspect there hasn’t been a lot of news about it because it’s not new,” said Wattson of the process so far. “It’s the same old, the same old: we’ve done this before, we know how to do it, the courts know how to do it, the parties know how to do it, the legislature knows how to do it, and they are just follow the path taken by their predecessors. “
The employee Briana Bierschbach contributed to this story.