Proposed DFL redistricting map irks McCollumby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota DFL Party submitted a congressional redistricting plan Friday that would place Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum into a district with GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Bachmann is currently running for the GOP presidential nomination, but hasn't ruled out another run for Congress.
The plan has prompted McCollum's chief of staff to send an e-mail criticizing the proposal.
"The DFL Chair and his high-paid lawyers have proposed a congressional map to the redistricting panel that is hyper-partisan and bizarre," McCollum's chief of staff Bill Harper said in the email. "Their plan ignores the judge's redistricting criteria and it insults established communities of interest, particularly in the Twin Cities East Metro. Congresswoman McCollum has faith in the judges on the panel to draw fair political boundaries that will serve the best interests of all Minnesotans."
Harper declined further comment when contacted by MPR News. Officials with the DFL Party, including Chair Ken Martin and Executive Director Corey Day, did not return calls for this report.
The public battle shows a disagreement that typically occurs behind closed doors — incumbents worried about getting re-elected with party leaders who are looking to pick up seats.
Other DFL members of the delegation aren't publicly embracing the plan either. Sara Severs, spokeswoman to DFL Rep. Tim Walz, declined to offer any reaction to the plan.
"It's in the courts," Severs wrote in an e-mail. "We have no comment."
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson and his staff could not be reached for comment.
Will Hailer, campaign manager for DFL Rep. Keith Ellison, said Ellison also had concerns earlier in the week about other maps that were presented to him by party leaders. But Hailer said Ellison now supports the map that was put forward by the party.
"Redistricting is always a complicated process," Hailer said. "I think moving forward to the 2012 cycle, I know Congressman Ellison feels that everybody is going to come together and make sure that Democrats who are fighting for middle-class families are able to win across the state."
The DFL Party submitted the map just minutes before a court-appointed deadline. It's the first redistricting plan put forward by Democrats in Minnesota.
DFL legislative leaders declined to submit a redistricting plan in the Minnesota Legislature. Republicans, who control the House and Senate, passed their plan and sent it to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
Dayton vetoed the proposal, creating a legislative stalemate that will leave the drawing of the state's eight congressional districts and 201 legislative districts to a five-member judicial panel.
The DFL Party map also puts GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack in a district that includes several northern Twin Cities suburbs and exurbs. The plan includes Stearns, Sherburne, Anoka, Wright, Isanti and Chisago counties. The plan also creates two districts that wrap entirely around the western, southern and eastern Twin Cities suburbs.
Attorneys representing the Republican Party also submitted a plan. The proposal didn't make dramatic changes to their congressional maps. State Rep. Sara Anderson, R-Plymouth, said she believes the court will look favorably on the GOP plan since it received the most public input.
"The legislative map has truly gone through the scrutiny of the public," Anderson said. "It's truly something that has been tested by the citizens of Minnesota whereas these other plans are coming out of left field and there has been no scrutiny of them."
The judicial panel will compare the proposals put forward by attorneys representing the DFL Party and the Republican Party of Minnesota with other plans and public testimony. The court will take over the process if Dayton and the Legislature can't reach agreement by Feb. 21.
- All Things Considered, 11/18/2011, 5:51 p.m.