Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Prize of this Game is your next Congressman

Although Winston Churchill once said “Politics is not a game. It is an earnest business.”, there are others who believe that politics is a game … how to get one-up on the other side. Elections becomes the means to the end.

So what Game is being played in Minnesota ?

Reviewing the Independent Republican Press Releases , Ron Carey clearly has Tim Walz in the crosshairs (with Al Franken getting more attention than a comic’s opening act.)

So what’s the reason why Representative Walz gets the attention that Ellison, McCollum, Oberstar or Peterson don’t get ? Simple – the configuration of Districts. And that’s the Game. Who will be your next congressman is largely determined by who the current congressman is.

Star-Tribune reported “The latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau confirm that Minnesota could lose a congressional seat in 2010. Historically, Minnesota has had eight districts since 1960’s.

The last time there was redistricting, the 2002 elections produced a competition between an incumbent Republican (Mark Kennedy) versus an incumbent Democrat (Bill Luther) and opened up the Second District for John Kline.

Most of Minnesota’s districts are somewhat logical except the Sixth District (Bachmann’s current district) which is a loop around the north side of the Twin Cities from the Wisconsin border (including most or all of Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, Wright, Anoka and Washington counties.)

But with one less district, the competition will be fierce (unless someone retires.) For those of us in southern Minnesota, this will be very interesting. The 2000 redistricting linked the bottom of the state from border to border whereas previously the western half was in one district and the eastern half was in another.
Will the existing wide swatch be maintained?
Or will Peterson’s district extend south to the Iowa border? Would Walz’s district grow North as far as Lakeville which is John Kline’s hometown?

Who represents the First District when the 2009 Congress assembles may weigh heavily on how the State reconfigures the districts.

For the country as a whole, gerrymandering by state legislatures has reduced the number of competitive house seats producing fewer competitive races in the House than in the Senate. Minnesota has resorted to using the Minnesota Supreme Court Special Redistricting Panel to create the districts.

If you are concerned about gridlock and ineffectiveness of the federal government then redistricting reform may be the solution to government malaise.

Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) wrote Across the nation, redistricting has become an engine of polarization, partisanship and incumbency protection. [SNIP] Our democracy should not require voters to navigate high walls and structural barriers that have been erected to achieve preordained results. As we advocate for democracy around the world, it's time we restore democracy to our own elections.

The National Taxpayers Union has endorsed the need for change.

There is proposed legislation in Congress.
The “Federal Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act of 2007” ( HR 543 ) was introduced by Representative John Tanner (D-TN) and has 32 cosponsors. Senator Tim Johnson has introduced a companion bill – S. 2342. The legislation would prohibit States from carrying out more than one Congressional redistricting after a decennial census and apportionment, to require States to conduct such redistricting through independent commissions, and for other purposes.
The objective must be geographic continuity, compactness, and contiguity. In developing redistricting plans, the intent would be to prohibit considering voting history, political party affiliation, and incumbent addresses unless doing so is necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

Before writing your Congressman to become a co-sponsor, play The Redistricting Game .

The Redistricting Game was developed by the University of Southern California and is designed to educate, engage, and empower citizens around the issue of political redistricting. The game will show a wide range of abuses and manipulations that encourage incumbents to draw districts which protect their seats rather than risk an open contest. The game allows players to explore the ways in which abuses can undermine the system, and provides info about reform initiatives.

Have fun playing The Redistricting Game, because before to long the campaigns of Sleaze and Smear will be playing their game in the First District.

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