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The northern one-third of the state would be rolled into a single district, with veteran Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson as the incumbent. (Map courtesy of gis.leg.mn)

Under GOP redistricting plan, Cravaack would no longer represent Duluth

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ST. PAUL -- It appears none of Minnesota's U.S. House members would compete against each other in a Republican-controlled state House's attempt to redraw congressional lines, which creates a massive district across northern Minnesota.

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The new 8th Congressional District would stretch from Moorhead to Cloquet, with the line dipping south to cut Mille Lacs Lake in half. It would encompass 23 counties, including Becker, where U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson lives.

In the south, meanwhile, the 1st congressional District would edge north in the western part of the state to take in all counties southwest of the Minnesota River. Democrat Rep. Tim Walz serves that area.

In between, the 7th Congressional District would take in an area from north of the Twin Cities, extending west to the state line, taking in communities ranging from Pine City, St. Cloud, Alexandria, Fergus Falls and Willmar. Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack lives in the northeast corner of that proposed district.

"It is an honor to serve as the 8th District's representative to Washington. I want to assure the citizens, families and businesses of the 8th District that I remain committed to fighting for them in our nation's capital," Cravaack said today in a prepared statement. "My goal, as always, is to provide a top notch constituent services program. That will not change, regardless of any proposed changes to Minnesota's Congressional map."

The rapidly growing area just north of the Twin Cities, the 6th Congressional District, would shrink a bit and lose St. Cloud but would be much like the current 6th, served by Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Twin Cities-based districts changed less than rural ones.

The redistricting plan will be discussed in a Tuesday House committee hearing and the full House probably will vote on it later this week. The House already passed, with Democrats opposed, a state legislative redistricting plan.

Senate Republicans are expected to release their congressional plan, as well as one redrawing state legislative boundaries, this week. The maps are expected to look a lot like those in the House.

Redistricting comes every 10 years, after the federal census is released, so each district has the same population.

Rural areas have lost population for years, while areas such as those immediately north of the Twin Cities are growing. That means rural districts grow in size while growing suburban districts shrink as each of the state's eight districts has about 662,990 people.

GOP-drawn maps may not become law. Democrats strongly opposes the House Republican legislative district maps last week and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton could veto a plan he does not like.

The courts have decided all recent congressional and state legislative district maps.

Most of the speculation this year has centered on making a new northern district that takes in large parts of the former 8th Congressional District, now served Cravaack and Peterson. However, the way Republicans drew the map released this morning gives Peterson the incumbency in the entire northern District.

Cravaack would represent his home area of Pine County, but also would represent western Minnesota areas that Peterson long has represented.

The current 8th district covers northeaster, north-central and east-central Minnesota, while the current 7th takes in most of western Minnesota from Canada nearly to Iowa.

During the weekend, former state Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, said she and her husband had purchased a Duluth home, making her eligible to run in the congressional district that serves Duluth. If she pursues that plan, she would compete with Peterson in a Democratic primary. If she maintains her St. Cloud residence, she would compete with Cravaack.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the News Tribune.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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