How to draw a political line

Minnesota State Capitol - Tone Mapped - 22

Republican lawmakers in St. Paul have released a proposed redistricting plan that is drawing criticism from Democrats. If adopted, the plan would force Democratic officials to have to run against each other in the newly redrawn districts. It is a divide and conquer strategy that is common with any redistricting process.

The Republican plan combines 20 current districts in the House and six in the Senate in ways that favor Republican areas. If the new maps survive a possible veto by the governor and an expected court challenge, some incumbents may have to run against each other, retire, or move.

If lawmakers and the governor can’t agree by Feb. 21 of next year, the courts will redraw the state’s political map.

The Republican majority gets the first pass, but Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton holds the power of the pen.

Iron Range blogger Aaron Brown described the plan as a “Trojan Horse” that would let Iron Range DFL incumbents “a chance to keep their seats” while “greatly diminish[ing] the influence of the Iron Range in all but one House district and one Senate district.”

Southwest Minneapolis Patch says the plan “squeezes Minneapolis districts.” It quotes Scott Dribble (DFL-Minneapolis) as saying the plan appears to have been “hatched this in some deep dark basement somewhere.”

The Winona Daily News says the Republican plan would maintain the current separation of Wnona and Goodview into different House districts, “but would create a big change in the Senate by lumping both cities in the same district.”

Brown notes that DFL lawmakers likely won’t agree to the plan, but that’s to be expected.

“In this redistricting business it seems you have to choose between drawing lines dedicated to population balance and defending potential legal challenges or “perfect world” districts that might pit three incumbents against each other. Republicans chose the former but would be criticized either way. Is redistricting political? Yes, it is.”

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