Reps. Bachmann, McCollum paired in new 4th Districtby Catharine Richert, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann says she will run in the newly drawn 6th Congressional District even though a court panel paired her with DFL Rep. Betty McCollum in a redrawn 4th Congressional District.
"I'm very excited to announce that I will be running in the 6th Congressional District," Bachmann told MPR News. "That's the district is where I grew up, I went to junior high, high school, college, our babies were born there. The 6th Congressional District is where I've lived my life."
The Minnesota five-judge panel released the new maps Tuesday. McCollum's district now effectively cuts Washington County in half, which means a part of the old 6th Congressional District that includes Stillwater, Bachmann's home, is now in the 4th.
More Minnesota Redistricting Coverage
• New political boundaries drawn for Minnesota
• News Cut Blog: 4th District isn't Bachmann Country
• Big Story Blog: More redistricting news
• Redistricting termed 'the essence' of power politics
• Legislative redistricting maps
• Interactive map: New congressional districts
But just because Bachmann lives in Stillwater doesn't mean that she's required to run there. No incumbent lives in the new 6th District and candidates for Congress are not required to live in the district they're seeking to represent.
The 6th's lines were redrawn dramatically because population there has grown significantly in the last decade; the U.S. Constitution requires that congressional districts have equal population.
McCollum's district, which previously included only St. Paul and its northern suburbs, now extends east to the St. Croix River.
In late 2011, McCollum criticized a DFL map that put her up against Bachmann.
But McCollum now says she's comfortable with the plan because it was drawn by judges and went through public hearings.
"The new district is absolutely beautiful, it's fantastic," she said. "I'm excited about getting to know the families in the district."
Though parts of her new district lean Republican, McCollum said her platform won't change.
"I'm not going to change my values about working, especially in this tough economy, for more jobs, for strong public education," she said.
The redrawn 6th District still includes St. Cloud, which was meant to appease residents of the area who felt Stillwater and St. Cloud were too far apart geographically and politically to be in the same district, the panel wrote in their final order.
Members of the public "overwhelmingly urged that the 6th Congressional District be reconfigured to encompass only one of these communities of interest; no member of the public involved in the panel's public hearing-and-comment process requested to keep St. Cloud and Stillwater together," the panel said in its order.
To make up for overpopulation in the 2nd Congressional District, currently represented by Republican Rep. John Kline, the panel carved out part of Carver County for the 6th. The move is meant to preserve similar interests shared between the western half of Carver, long considered a staunchly conservative area, with Wright County to its north, the panel wrote in its final order.
The rest of Carver County is now in Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen's 3rd Congressional District.
While the plan retains eight congressional districts in the state and keeps all the incumbents apart from Bachmann in the districts they currently represent, it did make minor changes to equalize population.
For instance, the 8th Congressional District, currently represented by Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack needed to add roughly 2,500 people to meet constitutional requirements. Though the panel left Cravaack's region largely intact, it added a sliver of Beltrami County in 7th Congressional District to make up for the population shortfall. The new 7th District picks up a few counties from the old first in southern Minnesota, and the first picks up some voters from the old 2nd.
One immediate impact of the new district borders may be the fate of a new bridge of the St. Croix River near Stillwater. Unlike Bachmann, McCollum has long opposed efforts to build a new bridge connecting Stillwater and Wisconsin citing environmental concerns; her redrawn district's proximity to the stalled project could change the debate over the issue.
FINAL COURT ORDER
- All Things Considered, 02/21/2012, 5:20 p.m.