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What part of a district should an elected official live in?

I’ve seen several references to Cravaack living in an outer ring suburb, and the implication that this is inappropriate. It appears he lives in Chisago City, which, while perhaps being a Cities outer ring suburb, still falls into the 8th Congressional district. If, indeed, this is in the district, then what’s the point, really, of implying he is inappropriate to be the district’s rep?

I suppose it’s been conventional that the rep comes from Duluth or the Range but from the geographic perspective, any resident of a district should be eligible to be elected as long as they meet other legal requirements, no?

To imply that someone who lives on the outer edges of a legally defined district should not be its elected rep seems specious to me. That’d be like saying a person who comes from Maine or Washington State or some such location distant from the geographic or population centers of our country should not be able to be elected president.

This is why it is important to pay attention to who gets to draw the legislative districts–there is real power in being able to carve up districts to benefit your party, especially given the information that is available via databases about demographics, voting patterns, income, etc.

I’m not a partisan of Cravaack and did not vote for him, so I am neither defending nor attacking him–just wonder if the PDD community has any thoughts on the idea that a representative should come from a particular part of district to represent it.

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43 Comment(s)

  1. Hey DavidS, as you know I am critical of our new Congressman CC living in a Twin Cities outer ring suburb. I feel that the wants and needs of northern Minnesota are so different from those of cities closer to the Twin Cities, and that CC cannot relate, as our demographics are so so different from those of the area he lives in. For instance, his lack of support for a new terminal for DLH; instead, he says, the roads around Sandstone are more important. I feel like he doesn’t get the importance of an updated airport terminal to the *entire* region (northern Minny).

    Same with the NLX train. He doesn’t get it, that bringing people in to Duluth is essential to our economy, and it’s not so easy, given that we are 150 miles north of the Twin Cities.

    But, you bring up a good point: why does the 8th district extend so far south, into a more heavily populated region near the Twin Cities, which has a different culture and different demographics than ours? Will we forever have to choose between candidates who are going to advocate for the northern part of the region, as opposed to those who advocate for the southern part of the region?

    I thought CC was from Lindstrom, though it’s next to Chisago City, so no big deal, but does anyone know which is correct?

    Claire | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  2. The 8th district increased in size some years back, and I think the intention was specifically to bring in more voters from a more conservative part of the state, thus eventually marginalizing the northland’s clout. In as much as Cravaack doesn’t care for any of the infrastructure projects that Oberstar got for us, his junior status in the house will have little impact in terms of actual initiatives. He will surely vote with the majority Repugs however.

    TimK | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  3. Chip’s home address is in Lindstrom.

    Chad | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  4. And where does Mr. Oberstar live? Don’t say Evelth, he hasn’t lived there since he was 12. Better Lindstrom than Potomac.

    jim | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  5. I am a bit surprised that someone essentially from the Twin Cities suburbs can be the Duluth Congress Representative. It seems a bit inappropriate, since Duluth is the second largest metro area in Minnesota, and we don’t have a representative from this area (we have a rep from the largest metro area).

    Don’t the suburbs there already have reps? Michele Bachmann is one. The Twin Cities suburbs can be very conservative, and this does not represent the point of view of Northlanders.

    Sam | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  6. I have no problem with being represented by someone from another part of the district. I do have a problem being represented by someone who doesn’t bother to really learn about the district and who is more interested in advancing an ideological agenda than actually representing the district. I don’t think Chip Cravaack has the slightest understanding of the nothern part of the district and I don’t think he cares.

    It is true that Oberstar hasn’t really lived in the district for many years, and that in certain ways he allowed himself to lose touch with the district. Oberstar, however, did take the job of representating the district quite seriously. I would hope that those on the other side would at least grant him that.

    Joel S | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  7. Yeah, while I think Cravaack is full of shit, it’s perfectly legal, the point is valid though that some are concerned that essentially the 8th district is too god damned big. Why the hell is Grand Maris and some place just north of the Twin Cities in the same district? They have little to do with one another economical or culturally.

    edgeways | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  8. Jim, please, this is getting old. If you think someone should be expected to fly back and forth between DC and Minny while Congress is in session, you really don’t understand what a hassle that would be. We’ll see how long the CC family stays in Lindstrom, and how often CC comes to back to Minny while Congress is in session.

    BTW, I’m glad you are no longer claiming that Congressman Oberstar lives in a mansion. I have relatives who live in that area, and, seriously, Jim, a million-dollar condo is not out of line for real estate in DC/Maryland suburbs.

    Claire | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  9. Class war now!

    sparhawk | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  10. This was a very, very well written post and anyone who would argue that it’s any less than 100% correct is so deeply entrenched in their own partisan views that they really do not care how logical any point from the side opposite of their own in reality is…they just want to disagree with the other side for the sake of disagreeing. Very well said, davids. I’m impressed.

    Danny | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  11. A bit off topic, but will the next congress redistrict after results of the 2010 census are compiled? My understanding is that a lot of folks expect Minnesota to lose a congressional seat with the next redistricting.

    If we do lose a seat my initial thought is that I’d rather have four Twin Cities reps and then a northern, southern and western rep for the other three with districts that don’t touch the Twin Cities area. But the republicans will probably try to have all the greater MN districts overlap with the suburbs to pull conservatives.

    todobrillante | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  12. Well, the easy answer is any part of the district. Of course, the Eighth District seems a microcosm of the U.S. itself, with a North -- South divide. Go North!

    Bret | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  13. Census expert: MN won’t lose a seat in Congress

    It’s not official yet, but it looks like Minnesota won’t lose a seat.

    Chad | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  14. If there is a border, and the rules are you have to live inside the border, and you do, then that’s all.

    You could argue that he is out of touch with his district, but I doubt where he gets his mail would have anything to do with it. With that rationale if he lived in Ely he’d be out of touch with his Chisago constituents.

    Obama lives in DC, how can he represent white female Alaskan fishermen? Hopefully, because he, and Cravaase, are using their brains.

    (Fisherpersons? (Nope.))


    adEm | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  15. I completely understand your analogy adEm. However, I think there is an importaint distinction between a Representative and a member of the Executive branch. Congressional districts are theoretically drawn so they have someone specific representing them and what make each area unique in its make-up. Yeah if the Rep lived in Ely s/he would likely be out of touch with Chisago. However, Chisago is close enough to the Twin Cities you could argue they already have people in congress who understand and represent the area. Yes, the way the boundaries are currently drawn it is entirely CC’s right to run and serve. That doesn’t make the current boundaries particularly correct or rational though.

    edgeways | Nov 7, 2010 | New Comment
  16. It is not about where he lives. Paul Wellstone was from Northfield, but he understood Northeastern Minnesota. That’s because he gave a damn.

    The problem with the district boundaries is that Greater Minnesota is losing population relative to the metro area. That leaves two options: 1) Incorporate pieces of the exurbs into the Greater Minnesota districts, or; 2) Maintain districts that are purely made up of Greater Minnesota, but give the Twin Cities another district.

    Of the two options, the first option does a better job maintaining Greater Minnesota’s voice. Our current situation is a good example of that. If Cravaack does a lousy job representing places like Duluth, Brainerd, Hibbing, etc (as it looks like he will) voters in those places will boot him out in two years. I’ve looked at the numbers-- the exurbs are a small portion of the 8th Congressional District. There are more voters in Crow Wing County, for instance, (Brainerd area-- which is part of the district) than in Chisago County.

    Joel S | Nov 8, 2010 | New Comment
  17. I will say first and foremost, I am distressed that Jim is no longer my Congressman. I agree, Chipoy is in the district and as such is eligible t be the congressman from our fine area. That having been said, a primary focus of the campaign was that Jim had been in office too long and/or had lost touch with the 8th. Nothing could be further from the truth. Was Jim a career politician? Sure. That was his calling, that was what he was meant to do. Jim made the focus of his career the area where he grew up. Northern Minnesota was an area he loved, he supported and he did his best to represent. He was not perfect. In fact, there was a major issue that I disagree with Jim on, however, I knew how important and good he was for our region and so I accepted that there was one issue he and I would always disagree on, however, I could vote with confidence for him knowing that he loved this state, this area as much as I do.

    I understand that Jim was a victim of the country railing against the status quo. I get it. But I don’t think anyone who voted against Jim truly understands the impact that will have on our economy. My job is safe … is yours?

    Shannon Sweeney | Nov 8, 2010 | New Comment
  18. JoelS makes a good point: Wellstone grew up in Virginia (the state) and never lived here in northern Minny — but he indeed gave a damn and educated himself. When CC tells the DNT the day after the election that he doesn’t support the airport expansion — which, unlike the NLX, is not controversial — because he thinks working on the highway near Sandstone is more important — well, it makes me think he doesn’t give a damn.

    The fact that he is one of only two Congressmen to back that nutjob Michelle Bachmann in her quest for a leadership position with the House GOP. God Almighty, hold on to your seats, the next two years are going to be a bumpy ride.

    Make that two: Cravaack will back Bachmann for leadership post

    Claire | Nov 8, 2010 | New Comment
  19. “The fact that he is one of only two Congressmen to back that nutjob Michelle Bachmann in her quest for a leadership position with the House GOP.”

    Yes? What about that fact? I hate sentences that don’t end.

    And forgive me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the commenter “JoelS” Mr. C? If so, am I the only one that finds it a little weird that a wife is starting a comment on a thread about her husband’s earlier comment making a good point? Again, could just be me.

    Back on topic, not one person has given a valid argument against davids initial post. Not a one.

    Danny | Nov 8, 2010 | New Comment
  20. Let’s all remember that he hasn’t even taken office yet? People keep touting Oberstar’s record of supporting our region, while calling out Chip for not understanding the area. What evidence do you have to go on? A few campaign statements? That’s it! At least give the guy a chance to see how to votes and represents this area’s important interests in Congress before saying he’s going to ignore us or work against our area.

    Chad | Nov 8, 2010 | New Comment
  21. Chad, you read and you decide for yourself:

    Cravaack would put brakes on train, trails

    Claire | Nov 8, 2010 | New Comment
  22. This is why our representatives should be elected by workers’ councils!

    rediguana | Nov 8, 2010 | New Comment
  23. I’m with rediguana! Fuck the unemployed and retired!!!

    todobrillante | Nov 8, 2010 | New Comment
  24. PS: I agree with Danny -- married people shouldn’t both be out commenting on posts and engaging in political discourse…I think Claire should stay home and raise the kids while Joel takes care of the comments.

    todobrillante | Nov 8, 2010 | New Comment
  25. Yeah. Because that’s exactly what I was saying. I’m well known as a guy who likes keeping the women folk barefoot and pregnant. You can talk to me further about this as I’m at Cub buying the week’s groceries while my wife is out of town on another business trip.

    Danny G | Nov 8, 2010 | New Comment
  26. todobrillante -- the apportionment (how many seats each state gets) is pretty much automatic based on population. Redistricting is done by each individual state and in MN it will be finished in Feb. of 2012.

    It is unfair to say that Cravaack being opposed to a project that many who live in the Duluth area are split on (the NLX) means he is out of touch. I live in Duluth and think it would be a waste of money.

    The 8th CD also extends pretty far west, I saw signs most of the way out to Park Rapids a few weeks ago. There are about 600k people per congressional district, so whichever district Duluth is in will have to have a lot of other parts of MN to get the other 520k or so people.

    Josh A. | Nov 9, 2010 | New Comment
  27. Todobrillante, LOL!

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but has anyone else noticed that whenever anyone calls out Danny on his obsession with Claire, he starts talking about his wife? Like that makes it ok that he’s fixated on someone else’s wife? Ish. If I were married to Danny, I’d be going off on “business trips” all the time too. What a creep.

    HelpmeRhonda | Nov 9, 2010 | New Comment
  28. HelpmeRhonda (if that is indeed your real name): How exactly did Todobrillante call me out on an obsession with C in that comment? he/she simply did not.

    Back on topic, josh made a really good point. It is odd to assume that everyone in Duluth is for the NLX. I’m against it, and I’m in Duluth. This goes back to the oddball “vastly different world” argument. The folks that make that argument tend to also think that whatever issues they care (or pretend to care) about are issues that plenty of people who live in the same city don’t like. But, because the issue is important to THEM they think that everyone around them in their immediate city find those issues just as important as they do. It’s all very odd, selfish, and a little isolationist.

    Danny | Nov 9, 2010 | New Comment
  29. The point of this thread was not really to debate the merits of Cravaack or to provide an arena for personal mud-slinging regarding Danny, Claire or anyone’s wife.

    Yeesh, this playground isn’t much fun any more…

    davids | Nov 9, 2010 | New Comment
  30. Josh A: Thanks for the info on when redistricting will happen and who makes the decision. I assumed we would have a redistricting after the 2010 census but I wasn’t sure when they would make the calculations about which states gained/lost seats…and then the bigger part about who decides how the districts are redrawn.

    So a follow up question: Do we redistrict for the state legislature at the same time? And, if so, what’s the process? Is it a balanced committee of dems and repubs, a citizens’ panel, etc?

    todobrillante | Nov 9, 2010 | New Comment
  31. Thanks for bringing the topic back to the intent of the original post.

    Here’s a link to government site outlining the redistricting process:

    Redistricting 2010

    I haven’t had time yet to pour through this, but it seems rather important to pay attention to how the redistricting process plays out as a political process that should ostensibly be about creating fair representation, but which, in reality, seems most often to be about political control and building or maintaining hegemony.

    davids | Nov 9, 2010 | New Comment
  32. contains the info on the process. In short, it is treated much like legislation so any plan is signed/vetoed by the governor after being approved by the Legislature. Generally the party in power tries to draw the districts to benefit their re-election (this is true everywhere).

    Simply by the nature of the size of the districts and the low-density of much of Minnesota’s population, any districting plan will cover large parts of the state and contain areas that are non-homogeneous (i.e. the 8thCD contains the Range and Duluth and more conservative areas around the Twin Cities and western Minnesota).

    Josh A. | Nov 10, 2010 | New Comment
  33. This letter in today’s DNT made me laugh. Maybe, if people like Mr. Balaich had bothered to inform themselves about Mr. CC’s stands on local issues, he wouldn’t have won, because people in the northern part of the district would have understood that he doesn’t get it?

    I’m hearing some buyers remorse from my fellow Northlanders out there.

    Reader’s view: After election, Cravaack opposes local projects

    Claire | Nov 16, 2010 | New Comment
  34. That letter doesn’t indicate “buyer’s remorse” since the writer didn’t indicate that he voted for CC.

    Danny G | Nov 16, 2010 | New Comment
  35. How bad would it be for Minnesota to build the NLX, and then mothball it several years later when it proves to not be self-sustaining? I’m also still not seeing how Amtrak failing is foreshadowing the NLX.

    Chip’s got it right. Airports and trains don’t create long-term, good-paying, self-sustaining jobs. Ironic that people on here are always bitching about Duluth only offering service jobs in the tourism industry, and then point to the airport and NLX as being crucial to continue being a tourism-based economy. No one is going to commute two hours back and forth from DLH to MSP regardless of WiFi or a bar car.

    Maybe some meaningless, overpaid book critic (still can’t believe that’s a job) might get jollies from a four hour train ride while posting snarky remarks on a message board, but most productive people don’t have an extra four hours a day to sit around on a train.

    SlingFade | Nov 16, 2010 | New Comment
  36. Slingfade, just because you live in the 19th century, doesn’t mean all of us do. Many of us telecommute. I know plenty of people who live in Duluth and who travel regularly to the Cities. We would all be thrilled to be able to be productive while doing so. A train makes sense in this day and age. I’d rather spend 3 hours each way being productive on the train than 2-1/2 hours each way in my car, not being productive.

    I feel like some of us are trying to pull the rest of you in the 21st century, and you’re just kicking and screaming the whole way.

    Claire | Nov 16, 2010 | New Comment
  37. So people who don’t telecommute still live in the 19th Century. Got it.

    P.S. We had trains in the 19th Century.

    Danny G | Nov 16, 2010 | New Comment
  38. P.P.S. I think you meant “commute” and not “telecommute.” You’re welcome.

    Danny G | Nov 16, 2010 | New Comment
  39. By the way, Slingfade, just because you don’t read doesn’t mean that book critics don’t have a place. After all, they — like movie critics, restaurant critics, music critics — are earning an honest living — can you say the same about yourself?

    I also think it’s ironic that someone with too much time on his/her hands would post snarky comments about other people’s professions on a message board. But I guess that’s what some people will do when their arguments against trains are simple-minded.

    I know, I know, using one’s brain is *hard* to do.

    Claire | Nov 16, 2010 | New Comment
  40. Airports and trains don’t create long-term, good-paying, self-sustaining jobs? Wait, what?

    udarnik | Nov 16, 2010 | New Comment
  41. Slingfade is a walking advertisement for why people should make the effort to crack open a book.

    Claire | Nov 16, 2010 | New Comment
  42. “I also think it’s ironic that someone with too much time on his/her hands would post snarky comments about other people’s professions on a message board. But I guess that’s what some people will do when their arguments against trains are simple-minded.”


    Danny G | Nov 16, 2010 | New Comment
  43. I’m taking my marbles to some other playground for the next time…regretting that this discussion thread, like many others on what is an interesting community forum like PDD, has descended to this kind of silliness.

    davids | Nov 16, 2010 | New Comment

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