Minnesota’s 8th District losing bellwether status

PHOTO: Ed Schipul, Flickr Creative Commons license

After five consecutive nationally-significant campaigns in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, this rural blue collar bellwether slips out of the spotlight.

Simone Path√© of Roll Call reported yesterday that national Democrats aren’t even targeting new incumbent U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber in their early plans for 2020. Meantime, they are focusing on new suburban districts in states around the country.

The math is simple. Democratic odds of winning new seats run higher in places like suburban Indianapolis than they do in older, rural districts like the 8th. It will take a significant local shift in attitudes about President Trump to change the lay of the land in this district. That could happen, but it would be more indicative of a wave election or a uniquely strong challenger than a sure bet.

Truth is, Stauber will be hard to beat. He’s stayed out of the spotlight except to occasionally utter the bland pronouncements common to Congressional incumbents. Trump’s above water here, and the local Democratic-Farmer-Labor party apparatus is spewing smoke on the tarmac. Fixable, but not fast enough for big donors.

Meantime, no DFL challengers have stepped forward yet. Joe Radinovich, the 2018 nominee, will announce his plans later this year, but hasn’t decided. Just like we saw last year the biggest DFL names are busy elsewhere or pretending to be.

Furthermore, after next year’s census there might not even be an 8th District anymore. Minnesota again hangs dangerous close to losing a seat in reapportionment.

In the short run that means maybe your friendly local blogger enjoys a quieter 2020. Maybe NPR kicks the tires someplace else next time. Ah, that’s how it goes.

It doesn’t mean there isn’t interesting political news going on, nor does it change the shifting sands under our feet. Our de-industrializing regional economy will face a reckoning no matter who goes to Congress.

We’ll keep an eye on people’s lives and new ideas for Northern Minnesota’s future. After all, that’s what politics is really about.


Comments

  1. David Gray says

    We weren’t really a bellweather all that long. Most of my life the 8th District was in someone’s pocket. If the pros are right it is simply in a different pocket.

  2. Gerald S says

    Although the GOP status of CD8 is probably secure for 2020, its future beyond that is very unclear.

    At best, CD8’s status as the slowest growing of all Minnesota’s congressional districts guarantees the annexation of significant numbers of additional voters, most likely from Metro suburbs, but possibly from the St. Cloud area.

    At worst, CD8 will cease to exist, and the Range, Duluth, and the Central Minnesota areas that have swung the district Republican will be cut up among other districts.

    Right now, the DFL control of the governor’s office for 2021 guarantees that any redistricting will be agreeable to the DFL or will go to the courts. If the DFL holds the state House and wins the Senate, something that appears quite likely right now, the DFL will completely control the process and be free to carve districts to suit their fancy. That would almost certainly result in the Range and Duluth being part of a largely safe DFL district — and put Stauber’s home in Hermantown in that district.

    Personally, despite being a DFL supporter, I think that would be wrong. If the gerrymandering in Wisconsin to benefit the GOP has been wrong, then gerrymandering in MN to benefit the DFL is wrong too.

    Representative Jennifer Schultz, a DFLer from Duluth, is working with several “good government” groups to try to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2020 to remove redistricting from politics and pit it under a non-partisan committee. I hope she succeeds in passing it.

    As Schultz said in her recent newsletter to constituents, “Voters should choose their elected officials instead of elected officials choosing their voters.”

  3. David Gray says

    I thought that was a good idea in the 1970s.

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