Inver Grove Heights became part of Congressional District 2 after a judicial panel released the new legislative district maps on Tuesday. The incumbent in that district is Lakeville Republican John Kline.
For the past ten years, Inver Grove Heights and the metropolitan areas of Dakota County bordering St. Paul were part of District 4, represented by Democrat Betty McCollum.
Now, Joe Atkins is fielding calls from supporters who want him to challenge Kline.
“I’ve had some people talk like that, yes”, said Atkins. “But I haven’t given it much thought.”
Atkins said he had been focusing on legislative work this week.
So what would have to happen for him to go after Kline? “If I had given it even that much thought, I’d have an answer to that. I’ve just been taking some phone calls, and that has been flattering.”
As state legislators grappled with the redrawn maps this week, Democratic State Sen. Jim Metzen was one of those whose political lives will largely stay the same. “Nine years ago they took away three precincts in South St. Paul from the district,” he said. “This year, I get one back. So it’s a little better for me.”
For Joe Atkins, things will change, whether he decides to stay or not. His district will now include a Westward swathe of Eagan and Mendota Heights. “I’m disappointed to lose the part of South St. Paul that I represented, but I’m elated to gain some good folks in Mendota Heights and Eagan,” he said.
Meanwhile, the new Congressional district 2 – the one that Atkins would run in if he chose to do so – now includes all of Dakota County. “It kind of weakens Kline’s district a little bit, because the index is DFL in West St. Paul and South St. Paul,” said Metzen.
According to figures from the Minnesota Geographic Information Services, the proportion of African-American and Latino voters –traditionally strong constituencies for Democrats – will double in Congressional District 2, from 4.5% to 9.7%.
“But there’s not enough numbers there to sway it to a DFL lawmaker”, said Metzen. “The rest of the makeup of the Congressional district is pretty darn much Republican.”
Atkins was not quite so categorical on the new District 2. “I think it’s a little too early to tell,” he said. “I think every seat is up for grabs this year. It’s likely to be a very wild year. When Congress has approval ratings of, like, 9%, I suspect every member of Congress is vulnerable this year.”