Redistricting changes Minnesota's political map this year

The maps will set the new boundaries for Minnesota's eight Congressional districts, 67 Senate districts and 134 House districts, and will be in effect for the 2022 elections.

Distirct Maps_Proof2

ST. PAUL — Minnesota's political landscape has shifted in the wake of new legislative and Congressional district maps released Tuesday, Feb. 15, by a panel of five judges.

Among the biggest changes are the visible growth of Minnesota's Congressional District 8, which covers most of northeast Minnesota.

The 8th District expands west to include the White Earth and Red Lake nations. All of the state's northern tribal lands are unified in a single district under the new map, something tribal leaders had requested, according to the redistricting panel's ruling. The 8th District, which includes the city of Duluth and spans from the Arrowhead in the east to Bemidji in the west, is represented by Republican Rep. Pete Stauber.

The five-judge panel in a court filing said they'd come up against the deadline for the Legislature to put forward new maps. And since lawmakers in the divided Statehouse couldn't agree, the panel published the new congressional and legislative maps at noon Tuesday.

"To avoid delaying the electoral process, the panel must now act," the judges wrote.


In the five congressional districts around the Twin Cities Metro area, populations grew over the last decade. Meanwhile the three more rural districts saw their populations decline. As a result, the judges said they remained close to the prior congressional maps but redrew each district to get the boundaries closer to containing an even voter population. The five more populous districts shrunk in terms of geography, while the three more rural ones grew.

"Simply put, we are not positioned to draw entirely new congressional districts, as the Legislature could choose to do. Rather, we start with the existing districts, changing them as necessary to remedy the constitutional defect by applying politically neutral redistricting principles," the panel said.

The maps set the new boundaries for Minnesota's eight Congressional districts, 67 Senate districts and 134 House districts, and will be in effect for the 2022 elections. States adjust their representative maps every 10 years based on new data from the Census.

Distirct Maps_Proof2


To address population growth, the panel moved the southern rural portion of the 2nd District in the Twin Cities' southern suburbs westward, taking Le Sueur County and handing over Goodhue and Wabasha counties in the east to the 1st District, which contains the cities of Rochester and Worthington. Minnesota's 2nd District tends to be competitive in elections, though could favor Democrats more as it becomes more suburban.

In a statement, 2nd District Rep. Angie Craig, a Democrat, thanked the redistricting panel for their commitment to a "nonpartisan and transparent process" and announced her reelection bid.

"While I am, of course, disappointed that the new boundaries do not include all of the cities and towns that I currently represent in Congress, I look forward to being the voice of several new communities across Minnesota,” Craig said.

Others said they would take time to examine the results before deciding whether to retire, announce reelection bids or move to attempt a run in a different district.


Republican leadership did not rule out challenging the maps but appeared satisfied with the results. At a Tuesday afternoon news conference at the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said that, based on initial analysis, Republicans found the maps to be fair. He said it was too early to say what impact the new legislative districts might have for the GOP going into the 2022 election, but he projected optimism.

"We're confident that our priorities for this session will help us maintain and grow our majority," he said. Republican priorities include boosting funding for police, tougher penalties for violent crime and cutting taxes.

Deputy Majority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said Republicans were hoping for the least change possible to districts. He told reporters he thought the panel created a balanced map and did a "good job" of keeping most districts close to their 2012 boundaries.

In Minnesota's remade 1st District, Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn in a statement said he "looks forward to campaigning for a third term."

"With the release of today's maps, he will continue to go forth every day and represent the interests of southern Minnesota whether it's agriculture, small business or our world class health care system," Hagedorn spokesman Aaron Eberhart said in a statement. "He looks forward to campaigning for a third term and getting to know the new residents of the district."

Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin reacted to the new maps in a statement early Tuesday afternoon.

“It will take some time for us to conduct a full analysis of these maps, but we are excited nonetheless to have this process conclude and have a clear sense of the political landscape in front of us," he said. "Across Minnesota, local DFL Party organizing units will be working overtime to endorse our candidates in new districts and ensure our campaign infrastructure is ready to kick into high gear."


A 50-year tradition

This round of redistricting will mark a half-century of the courts having the ultimate say in Minnesota’s political district boundaries, as Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature have consistently failed to reach a compromise on new maps. The Minnesota Supreme Court appointed the five-judge redistricting panel in June.

Minnesota lawmakers started seeking public input and developing new legislative and Congressional maps after receiving new data from the 2020 Census in August — much later than usual. Lawmakers typically expect Census results by February. With a tighter turnaround this year the judicial panel worked concurrently with legislators to develop new maps.

Based on data from the 2020 Census, the ideal population for a Congressional district in Minnesota is now 713,112. Minnesota narrowly held on to its eight districts in the last Census. The ideal legislative district population in Minnesota increased in the last census from 39,582 to 42,586. Minnesota Senate districts are split into two A and B House districts.

New boundaries for representation can affect elections in a number of ways. Shifting boundaries can change the demographics of a district, which can play to the advantage or disadvantage of candidates. For example, a Democrat in a suburban district on the edge of a metropolitan area could have their district boundaries changed to include larger swaths of potentially more conservative rural areas — meaning a disadvantage in the upcoming election.

Incumbent elected representatives can see map changes that make the district they serve disappear from beneath their feet. Suddenly they’ll be in a position where they are running against another incumbent — sometimes of the same party — or will have to move to run for an open seat in an open district.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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