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Redistricting begins with 8 U.S. reps

Minnesota escaped the first of two major hurdles Tuesday when the U.S. Census Bureau released details of its 2010 Census -- Minnesota will keep its eight representatives to Congress.

Minnesota officials had long worried that the migration of folks from the Midwest to the Southwest might see the state lose one of its seats in Washington, D.C., in the reapportionment that always follows the 10-year Census. That would have been disastrous to Minnesota, as it would lose clout in a number of areas. Having less political power would be the foremost detriment, but also ranking at the top would be in the allocation of federal dollars to numerous programs in Minnesota.

That's why it was important that every person be counted, and that despite cries of black helicopters from the likes of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-6th District, over the Census process. "Thank you to the Minnesotans who responded to the 2010 Census and helped us achieve the second highest response rate in the nation," said Gov.-elect Mark Dayton. "I am very pleased that Minnesota will continue to have eight representatives in the United States Congress. As our state faces dire budget circumstances and Minnesota families continue to struggle in a tough economy, we simply could not afford to lose an important voice in our national policy discussion, nor the billions of federal dollars that are allocated to our state based on population."

The loss of one representative would have most likely adversely affected northern Minnesota the most, as it now is represented by two people and would have seen one representative with the loss.

Now will come the second hurdle, the actual redistricting of the state by a Republican-led Legislature. Northern Minnesota could again be at risk, as state population shifts to the metro area and the move to carve out northern Minnesota as a single district could gain momentum.

We would argue that there is much diversity in northern Minnesota, from the port city of Duluth and the Iron Range, through the forested central northern Minnesota and ending with the rich farm belt of the Red River Valley. It deserves two representatives has it has now and a fair redistricting plan should recognize that.

Lawmakers will also redistrict state legislative districts, and we hope the GOP-led Legislature adopts a plan that is fair and maintains a geographic and demographic balance throughout the state. That has always been tough for the partisan body, with redistricting usually left up to the courts.

Now that the numbers are there, redistricting will prove to be a daunting task for our Republican Legislature and Democratic governor to agree upon. -- Bemidji Pioneer