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Beneath the Budget Battle, Redistricting Efforts Bubble Up

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A Who's Who of Minnesota politics from across the political spectrum continue to speak as one voice in an effort to bring change to the process by which the State draws its congressional and legislative districts.

Back in January 2008, former Vice President and DFL Senator Walter Mondale, former Republican Governors Arne Carlson and Al Quie, and former DFL Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe were among several witnesses who testified on redistricting before the Minnesota Senate Committee on State and Local Government Operations and Oversight.

Mondale and Carlson are co-chairs of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance's Minnesota Redistricting Project, which supports the establishment of an independent commission of non-partisan retired judges to draw new districts, instead of the partisan process that is in place now.

Redistricting has taken on particular importance in light of population shifts that put at great risk one of Minnesota's congressional seats in 2012.

This week, Mondale, Carlson, Quie, and Moe returned to the spotlight by writing a letter to DFL Senator Ann Rest, Chair of the Committee on State and Local Government Operations and Oversight, endorsing a redistricting bill authored by DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller.

The bill, S.F. 182, would create an independent, nonpartisan, and transparent system for drawing the boundaries of legislative districts. In their letter, Minnesota's prominent former officeholders wrote they, "Seek to fix a broken system and restore fairness and accountability of the redistricting process." They added:

"It is unfortunate, but undeniable that our existing redistricting process fosters an environment of mistrust, jealousy, and hunger for power, thus, distracting elected officials from the issues that their constituents truly care about."

The Pogemiller bill would empower the majority and minority leaders in the Senate and House with selecting a retired appellate or district court judge to form the commission, with those four judges selecting a fifth judge. All of the judges must never have previously served in political office. The bill was voted out of Rest's committee this week on a voice vote.

Although talk of budget battles has created headlines at the Capitol this session, bi-partisan support for redistricting seems to be gaining steam and media attention; last week, the Star Tribune ran an editorial supporting the core principles comprising Pogemiller's legislation.

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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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