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December 02, 2008

Minnesota losing a House seat?

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Tom Gillaspy, the state's chief contact for the federal census, said the most recent projections for Minnesota show the state falling 1,800 people short of being able to keep its eight seats. To put that in perspective, Minnesota's population "grows" by about 900 people a week, meaning people move in and babies are born that much faster than people move away or die.

"Minnesota is just under the cut-off point for the last congressional seat, but it's all very, very close," Gillaspy said. "It's almost like the Senate race. It's about as close as you can get."

If the number falls below the threshold after the 2010 census, the Legislature will begin a redistricting process to divide the state into seven more or less equal districts rather than eight.

The end result could be two incumbents facing off against each other, and the political landscape of the state could change dramatically, opening partisan wounds.

Given that Democrats hold large majorities in the Minnesota state legislature, Republicans would need to reelect Gov. Tim Pawlenty (or another Republican governor) in 2010 to best ensure that its incumbents would be protected.

And I would think controversial Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) would be at risk if Minnesota lost a seat in the redistricting process.  Her seat could get absorbed into the more-Democratic and slower-growing Eighth District up in Minnesota's Iron Range.

But looking ahead, if Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) gets tapped as Obama's Secretary of Agriculture, as has been rumored, it's possible that his successor could be short-lived, considering that redistricters  often target the least-tenured lawmakers.