Minnesota Map Nice for Status Quo

Jessica Taylor February 21, 2012 · 4:56 PM EST

One of the remaining pieces of the redistricting puzzle was revealed Tuesday, with a Minnesota judicial panel releasing a new map that only slightly changes the state’s congressional boundaries but still leaves freshman Republican Chip Cravaack as the top target in 2012.

The new lines also put GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann into the same district as Democrat Betty McCollum, but the one-time presidential candidate announced after the maps were revealed that she’ll still run for reelection in her old 6th District – a solidly Republican seat that went 54 percent for John McCain in 2008, as opposed to McCollum’s St. Paul based district, which tilts more than 10 points toward Democrats.

Cravaack needed his northeastern district to pick up at least some GOP territory, but that wasn’t the case, and his 8th District actually lost some GOP ground, going from where McCain took about 45 percent to now just 44 percent. The first term lawmaker’s drawn scrutiny after he moved his family to New Hampshire for his wife’s job, but Democrats have a competitive primary on their side, featuring 2010 6th District nominee Tarryl Clark, former Rep. Rick Nolan and Duluth City Councilman Jeff Anderson.

The biggest statistical change in the map was in Republican John Kline’s 2nd District, which got about three points better for Democrats and went from a district where McCain took just over 50 percent to one Obama won with about 52 percent. While Democrats don’t have a candidate there yet, it’s one they could try to target. Kline’s had easy reelections since he first won in 2002, and he ended the year with about $873,000 in his campaign account.

Another possible target for the GOP didn’t really materialize in the new maps, with Democrat Tim Walz’s 1st District staying roughly the same – a fairly evenly matched seat on paper where McCain now took 46 percent. GOP recruits there, state Sen. Mike Parry and former state Rep. Allen Quist, have posted unimpressive fundraising totals so far.
Democrats had hoped Rep. Erik Paulsen could have been a possible target, but his 3rd District got about two points better for Republicans, where McCain took 47 percent but George W. Bush won 52.5 percent in 2004.

Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson still sits in a Republican district that McCain took just over 50 percent in, but the 11-term Democrat hasn’t had a serious race in nearly two decades, and there's no evidence yet that the GOP sees this as a target this fall.