Ramstad Redux?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

diaz_1.jpgWith the U.S. House contest to replace Jim Ramstad just getting underway, the retiring Minnesota Republican says party leaders have encouraged him to run again.

Ramstad, 61, says he still plans to retire in January, 2009, at the end of his ninth term. But hisramstad chief of staff released a statement acknowledging that “the leadership and many other groups have encouraged him to run.”

The statement, coming in response to an inquiry Tuesday from the Star Tribune, added that “Jim has no plans to seek reelection.”

In a separate statement, the staffer, Dean Peterson, also said that “Jim has been overwhelmed by the huge number of Minnesotans urging him to reconsider, but he has no plans to run to run for re-election.”

Peterson said Wednesday that neither he nor Ramstad would comment further.
Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), acknowledged Ramstad’s account, but said there was no “top-down” effort to keep Ramstad in the race.

“If grassroots Republicans in Minnesota support the idea of Congressman Ramstad running for reelection, then Chairman [Tom] Cole [R-Okla.] seconds that sentiment,” Spain said. “The NRCC trusts local Republicans to decide who they believe would make the best candidate for Congress, not the other way around.”

Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., is a member of the NRCC’s executive committee. A Kline spokesman declined to say whether he has been involved in efforts to ask Ramstad to reconsider his retirement, which he announced last month.

Another Republican source in Washington said that, for now, party leaders are operating under the assumption that Ramstad is not running, and they are reaching out to prospective candidates.

Some analysts have noted that while Ramstad’s Third Congressional District in the Twin Cities’ western suburbs is still fairly safe Republican territory, Ramstad’s decision to postpone his retirement could save the cash-strapped Republican congressional committee as much as $1 million to defend the seat, a factor that could be huge in a tough presidential election year.

What do you think? Should Jim Ramstad, a political moderate who says he’s “burned out” from the weekly Washington commute, stick around for the sake of his party?

List of possible Ramstad replacements already long, likely to grow

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

The prospect of an open congressional seat in Minnesota’s Third District had many potential replacements salivating Monday while others demurred to express interest for a later date.

For potential hopefuls in the Legislature, the prospect of running for the seat Jim Ramstad will vacate next year represents an interesting numbers game. House members, for instance, could face losing their jobs if they run for Congress in November 2008. State senators are not up for re-election until 2010.

Ramstad’s announcement took many by surprise, leaving potential candidates to quickly call spouses to get the okay to even think about running.


What to do if Minnesota loses a seat a Congress?

Friday, July 6th, 2007

tice.jpgAccording to this Associated Press story there is at least some chance that Minnesota could lose a congressional seat after the 2010 census.

The concern sounds speculative at this point. But sooner or later, population trends are likely to cost the state a seat in the U.S. House. When it happens a fierce redistricting battle will follow — and the issues raised will not be simple.mncongressmap.gif

Some Minnesota community of interest, belief or place would see its representation in Washington diluted. Those communities could crudely be defined as the Iron Range (currently dominant in 1 seat); farm country (2 seats); central cities (2 seats); and suburbia/exurbia (3 seats).

One question sure to arise if and when a seat is lost is whether the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul should be combined in a single urban district instead of each anchoring a district of its own. For now, each city is large enough to dominate a district, which means two Minnesota House members are highly attuned to city concerns. But in time, one or both cities will find itself a minority interest within a district dominated by suburban voters.

Would that matter? Or would it best to keep two districts in which urban interests were important?

Would diluting farm country representation, or surburban representation, or Iron Range representation be more fair, or more prudent?

Keeping in mind that individual House members, by political necessity, are most sensitive to the views and best interests of voters in their own districts, what division of the state would result in the best representation of the broad interests of Minnesota as a whole?

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