Political landscape shifts after redistricting maps redrawn

Published 11:25 am Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The political landscape in Mower County and the surrounding area is getting a new look after redistricting maps were released Wednesday by a five-judge panel appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Redistricting of Minnesota legislative districts and congressional districts comes once every 10 years on the heels of the national census.

New maps revealed that a substantial chunk of Freeborn County will join Mower County to form the new House District 23B. This includes towns and townships from Hayward east sliding over to join Mower.

At the same time, what once was District 27 in the Senate, representing Mower and Dodge counties, no longer includes Dodge County, however, current District 27 senator, Gene Dornink, released a statement saying he was announcing a run for the District 23 seat, even though he lives in Hayfield.

“After speaking with my family, I will run for re-election in Senate District 23,” Dornink said in the statement. “The new political boundaries allow me to continue serving the people of Mower, Freeborn, Faribault, and Steele counties, in addition to southern Waseca County which has been added to our district. I am excited to be running for re-election to serve the people in the new Senate District 23. I will continue to work hard to ensure we have safe neighborhoods, prosperous agriculture communities, and permanent tax relief for all Minnesotans – especially our seniors on fixed incomes.”

According to the Dornink camp, the senator intends to move to a residents he owns in Glenville to be able to run for re-election in the District 23.

District 23 now spreads over a large swath of southeast Minnesota into south central Minnesota including most of Mower County, all of Freeborn County, over half of Faribault County and half of both Waseca and Steele counties.

The eastern third of Mower County is now in District 26 along with Fillmore, Houston and part of Winona counties.

While ground has shifted in both House and Senate districts, Kasel said he found the movements fair.

“On the surface, it definitely changes our Senate and state House lines,” Kasel said. “Overall I think it’s actually good. It should be a good district going forward.”

On the United States Legislative stage, very little has changed for Mower and the surrounding area, represented by Rep. Jim Hagedorn 1st District, which stretches across the southern part of Minnesota. The biggest change statewide was in the 2nd District, represented by Democrat Representative Angie Craig.

In that district, more ground was gained in urban areas, while losing ground in rural areas, giving an early edge to Craig in her upcoming reelection campaign, though many expect the race, featuring a rematch with Republican challenger Tyler Kistner, to remain tightly contested.

According to the Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin in a press release issued Tuesday, he was happy to have the process done, so that they could move forward.

“It will take some time for us to conduct a full analysis of these maps, but we are excited nonetheless to have this process conclude and have a clear sense of the political landscape in front of us,” Martin said. “Across Minnesota, local DFL Party organizing units will be working overtime to endorse our candidates in new districts and ensure our campaign infrastructure is ready to kick into high gear.”

Work will now shift to the local levels. The City of Austin has until March 29 to solidify any of its changes, followed by the County, which has a deadline of April 26.