How 6th District is drawn may determine 2012 candidates

n Rep. Bachmann not in picture right now, but could return

T.W. Budig

ECM Capitol Reporter

Sixth Congressional District Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, recently announced she would not actively run for re-election to Congress while a presidential candidate.

Photo by T.W. Budig Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of the 6th District in Minnesota recently announced her candidacy for presidency in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa.

Bachmann, along with former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, are currently in the hunt for the Republican Party presidential endorsement.

A recent Rasmussen poll had the third-term congresswoman running second to former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

This leaves things in the 6th District unsettled.

The district stretches from Stillwater past St. Cloud and includes Elk River.


Sixth to downsize

Not only is there a chance the incumbent may not run again, but the redistricting process will eventually result in a redrawn district.

The 2010 census data shows the 6th, with some 759,478 residents, the largest of Minnesota’s eight congressional districts.

Bachmann has almost a year to decide whether or not to run for Congress again. The filing period for candidates interested in running for state and federal offices in Minnesota is from May 22 to June 5, 2012.

Several early presidential milestones, such as the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, will be over by the filing deadline.

Minnesota Republican Party State Chairman Tony Sutton assumes Bachmann, should her presidential ambitions come up short, will run again for Congress.


Waiting to run

Should Bachmann decide not to run for Congress, Sutton believes Republicans have “a strong bench” of potential candidates to step in.

Sutton pointed to Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, and former state representative and gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer as two potential replacements for Bachmann.

And some Republican names out of the past could appear.

Three Republicans vied against Bachmann for endorsement in 2006, and one of them, former state Rep. Jim Knoblach of St. Cloud, remains active in Republican politics.

“At present it’s something I really wouldn’t rule out,” Knoblach said of running for Congress, though adding it’s possible he could end up living in the 6th, 7th, or 8th congressional districts depending on the outcome of redistricting.

Former state representative and Taxpayers League of Minnesota President Phil Krinkie also sought the 2006 endorsement. Krinkie did not return a phone call seeking comment.

St. Cloud businessman Jay Esmay also competed for endorsement in 2006.

Minnesota DFL State Party Chairman Ken Martin anticipates elective politics in the 6th District will be pretty much on hold over the next four or five months as redistricting works itself out.

Redistricting plans passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature were vetoed by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

Martin has spoken to some potential DFL 6th District candidates, but would not mention names.

Potential candidates, explained Martin, are likely less concerned whether Bachmann runs again than where the district lines are finally drawn.

“I think we can beat her (Bachmann),” Martin said, adding it would be an uphill fight.

Still, Bachmann’s national travels and candidacy are  clear proof her interests are outside the district, Martin argued.

Indeed, Democrats want Bachmann to immediately make a decision about running again for Congress. That would help both the potential Democratic and Republican fields, Martin said.

One past DFL 6th District candidate, former state Sen. Tarryl Clark, recently announced her intentions to run for the Congress in the 8th Congressional District.

Last year, Clark won about 40 percent of the vote in a three-way race against Bachmann.

Meanwhile, that two Minnesota Republicans are in the top tier of presidential candidates has created a certain “Wow” factor among state Republicans, Sutton said.

So far the Bachmann and Pawlenty candidacies have not created any rifts within the state party, Sutton said.

Sutton would consider it a “sweet irony” should one of the two state Republicans become the first Minnesotan to win the presidency, as the state has seen a number of Democrats attempt and fail to win the White House.


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