Lawmakers draw their redistricting battle lines

Opponents criticized the proposal for pitting current DFL lawmakers against each other.

Luke Feuerherm

One day after rolling out their initial proposal, members of the state House Redistricting Committee met to discuss the plan that many Democrats âÄî both in the Legislature and in the community âÄî have labeled as partisan.

The plan is the first of many steps to cement new legislative boundaries for the next decade.

âÄúIt seems like a step back to me,âÄù University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs said. âÄúThis is not going anywhere. Either the governor will veto it, or it will go to the courts like it did in 2001.âÄù

The GOP plan would create 10 new open seats in the House and three in the Senate. The new seats would pit 20 current House members against each other, with more DFL than Republican seats at risk. Proposed party matchups include:

  • Five Democrat-versus-Democrat races
  • Four Democrat-versus-Republican races
  • One Republican-versus-Republican race

 

In the Senate, the plan would match two incumbent Democrats against members of their own party. A third match would be a Republican and Democrat.

Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, is the only incumbent currently representing University students who would be directly affected by these changes. She would face off against Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul.

House Redistricting Committee Chairwoman Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, said the committee had to address âÄúsignificant population shiftsâÄù revealed by the new census which forced âÄúa whole lot of pushing and pulling.âÄù

Before releasing its proposal, the committee spent four months gathering input, including 14 hearings in different communities.

But Tuesday was the first time community members had a chance to weigh in on the initial map.

Nearly every community member and special interest representative who took to the microphone Tuesday night criticized either particular changes to districts, the process used by the committee or the small amount of time afforded to citizens to read and react to the new map.

One speaker, before criticizing the proposal, apologized for continuing the âÄúkvetching session.âÄù

All decisions made by the committee were done under the redistricting principals passed last week by the Legislature, Anderson said.

âÄúWhen people say this plan is gerrymandered, I find that offensive,âÄù Anderson said.

It is unlikely that this proposal will be the one landing on Gov. Mark DaytonâÄôs desk.

The Senate still hasnâÄôt introduced its version of the map, which is expected to be released later this week.