Minn. hopes to keep congressional seat after 2010 census

8:09 AM, Feb 4, 2010   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Political leaders are urging Minnesotans to complete this year's U.S. Census forms so the state doesn't lose one of its congressional seats.

A December analysis by state demographer Tom Gillaspy found Minnesota was about 1100 people shy of keeping its eighth seat.  Four states are in a "dead heat" for the last three congressional seats, Gillaspy reported.

"It behooves us to think hard about why we might want to avoid losing a member of our Congress," Minnesota secretary of state Mark Ritchie told a group Wednesday at Metropolitan State, during the school's census kick-off event.

Census forms will arrive in Minnesota homes in March.  The state should know if it's losing a congressional seat by year's end.

If that happened, the state legislature and governor elected this November would need to draw new boundaries for seven congressional districts. 

If Democrats are in power, it's possible Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann's 6th District, which stretches from Woodbury to Stearns County, would disappear, said Hamline University political science professor David Schultz.

"It's a very oddly shaped district," he said.  Plus, "Democrats don't like her and I think Democrats would love to be able to redistrict her out of office."

But Schultz pointed to another possibility, especially if Republicans are in power: Minneapolis and St. Paul could be merged into one district. 

"I think it makes complete sense," said Michael Brodborb, deputy chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota.  "Clearly in areas related to federal funding and state funding, there's a lot of similarities between both Minneapolis and St. Paul."

If Minnesota does lose a seat, redistricting could be politically charged and the courts could end up deciding how to draw the lines, Schultz said.

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