Farewell to Minnesota’s Fightin’ Eighth?

PHOTO: Ed Schipul, Flickr Creative Commons license

Though long suspected, it now appears likely that Minnesota will lose one of its eight Congressional seats after the 2020 Census. Though Minnesota is increasing population slightly, it isn’t keeping pace with faster growing states.

Minnesota just barely kept its eighth seat after the 2010 Census, so this isn’t shocking. Looking at the map, Rust Belt states all around the Great Lakes are slated to lose seats. In addition to Minnesota, we see that Illinois (-2), Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, along with West Virginia and Alabama will all lose at least one seat.

Meantime, Texas (+3!), Florida (+2), Arizona, Oregon, North Carolina, Colorado and Montana are due to gain at least one seat.

Here in Minnesota, this raises the stakes in the 2018 race for governor and 2020 legislative elections due to the redistricting considerations. It also adds some electoral color to a rapidly changing Congressional delegation. Democrats Tim Walz (MN-1) and Rick Nolan (MN-8) may run for governor, while Collin Peterson (MN-7) could retire. Republicans Tom Emmer (MN-6) and Erik Paulsen (MN-3) are also listed as potential candidates for governor. Amid these shifting sands, someone’s chair will be removed anyway.

Minnesota’s current congressional districts

But, to reiterate, the “Fightin’ Eighth” looks to be toast. From the Eric Roper story in the Star Tribune:

“It’s not certain, but it looks serious and it looks like it’s maybe even likely,” Brower said.

That will mean divvying up the state into seven logical slices rather than eight during redistricting, which occurs every 10 years. And at least one member of the delegation would have to pack his or her bags in 2022.

It sets the stage for a particularly contentious fight over drawing the lines, potentially attracting more out-of-state interest in state elections in 2018 and 2020 — including next year’s governor’s race. The Legislature has authority over redistricting, subject to veto from the governor, though the courts have had to make the final maps for several decades.

“That adds a whole new level of partisan intensity to the elections that might affect the reapportionment,” said Steven Schier, a political science professor at Carleton College.

Losing a seat would also knock down the state’s clout in the Electoral College since the electors are tied to the number of representatives in Congress.

The story goes on to state that the 2020 Census will be the first using a large amount of electronic responses, and fewer face-to-face surveys. There is serious concern that people will be lost in the shuffle, creating more statistical chaos.

In any event, should Nolan run for governor, the next member of Congress from Northern Minnesota would likely have the opportunity for two terms before the districts change entirely.

Politically, just about anything could happen.


  1. joe musich says

    I think is time for more reforms ! Well maybe past time. Reexamination of the house of cards the electoral college is, and a commission to examine legislative districts. Two things to take elections as far away from party politics as possible and insure credibility of the process. Still will not be perfect but might improve what we have now. Oh, yea ! I almost forgot overturn or legislate away the Citizen’s United monster from the depths of the Hull Rust pit.

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