ST. PAUL, Minn. — Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann said Tuesday she would seek reelection to her old 6th District seat after newly drawn congressional maps threw her home into a district currently represented by a Democratic incumbent.
Running in the 4th District would have matched Bachmann against U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a six-term incumbent and the state's only other female U.S. representative. But Bachmann said the newly drawn 6th District is still comprised of what she called "the heart" of the district she was first elected to represent in 2006.
"The judges made the decision they made, but I'm choosing to stay with my people," Bachmann said, referring to the state judicial panel that drew the new district lines.
She said her Washington County home, east of St. Paul, is very close to the new district line and that she's undecided if she'll move; members of Congress are not required to live in the districts they represent.
The state's seven other congressional districts did not suffer major revisions as a result of redistricting. While the new 6th District was left without an incumbent, the other seven members of Congress — four Democrats and three Republicans — remained in the districts they represent.
The old 6th District curled around the eastern edge of the metropolitan area and extended to the Wisconsin border. Under the new maps, McCollum's 4th District border has essentially been pushed from the east metro all the way to the Wisconsin border, and the 6th District's southern edge was pushed northward — leaving Bachmann's Stillwater home behind.
Redistricting takes place once a decade, after the federal census, to reflect population shifts in congressional and legislative districts.
The state's Republican-controlled Legislature passed new congressional and legislative redistricting maps in 2011, but Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the plans. He said at the time he believed the GOP effort unfairly targeted Democratic incumbents and that he was only willing to sign redistricting proposals if they had bipartisan support.
The inability of Dayton and GOP lawmakers to agree on a political realignment threw the issue into the courts, where it has almost always landed in recent decades. Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea appointed a panel of state judges to draw up new maps, and the group considered proposals from interested groups including the state Democratic and Republican parties.
Dayton has said he believes the state's current redistricting process is inefficient and suggested taking it out of the legislative process altogether in favor of letting an independent panel handle it from the beginning. He said on Tuesday that doing so would probably result in an earlier setting of new political boundaries, giving both incumbent and aspiring politicians more than the roughly eight months they'll now have to mount campaigns in new districts.
Online: Minnesota's newly drawn congressional and legislative maps: —http://www.mncourts.gov/?page=4469