Walz remains in same congressional districtPublished 9:39am Wednesday, February 22, 2012
By Mark Fischenich, Mankato Free Presstorn
MANKATO — Democratic Congressman Tim Walz and both of his Republican challengers remained in the same congressional district under new political boundaries released by a state judicial panel Tuesday.
The new 1st District continues to stretch from the Wisconsin border to South Dakota across southern Minnesota, but it’s a little thinner on the east and west ends and thicker in the middle. The new maps drop Pipestone, Murray and Wabasha counties and western Cottonwood County, while adding Le Sueur County and part of Rice County, including the city of Faribault.
Le Sueur and Rice counties were previously part of the 2nd District, represented by Republican Congressman John Kline of Lakeville.
The new 1st District includes Mankato, Walz’s home, and the homes of Republican challengers Allen Quist of rural St. Peter and state Sen. Mike Parry of Waseca.
Sibley County remains in the 7th District, represented by Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson. The 7th covers the western third of Minnesota.
The new political borders were required to equalize population between Minnesota’s eight congressional districts following the 2010 census, but the maps are closely watched by political parties for any advantage they might provide in the fight to control the U.S. House of Representatives.
Changes in the 1st District don’t appear to dramatically change the political leanings of the district. Both the areas being added and those being dropped tend to vote Republican.
Looking at the very close contest for governor in 2010, which Democrat Mark Dayton won by less than 1 percent statewide, the areas leaving the current 1st District favored Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer by about 2,500 votes. The areas being added to the 1st District preferred Emmer by about 2,400 votes.
Walz didn’t fare particularly well in the counties leaving the 1st District for other congressional districts in the 2012 election. He lost Pipestone County to Republican challenger in Randy Demmer in 2010 by nearly 750 votes, and won Murray and Wabasha counties by about 400 votes combined.
Republicans are expected to settle on Walz’s challenger at an April 21 endorsing convention in Mankato. Democrats are holding their district convention in Winona the same day.