MOORHEAD, Minn. — You'll excuse former Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson for being spiteful when it comes to his replacement in Congress. The Democrat was ousted by Republican Michelle Fischbach last November after representing the vast 7th District for 30 years.
Now, because of likely redistricting, there's a chance Fischbach might have to battle it out in 2022 with another Republican — more powerful and entrenched than she is — just to keep her job in Washington, D.C.
This possibility puts a wicked glint in Peterson's eye.
Asked by Politico about the possibility the 7th could be squashed with another district if, as expected, Minnesota loses a congressional seat before the next election, Peterson said:
"I tried to tell her that when she ran in the first place. She may be a one-term wonder. I think what’s going to happen is that Emmer and Fischbach are going to get put together — and they deserve it."
Emmer would be Tom Emmer, the Republican who has represented the 6th District since winning Michele Bachmann's former seat in 2014. Emmer has some clout as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Because 2020 was a Census year, congressional lines will be redrawn prior to the 2022 election because of shifts in the population. With 435 seats in the House of Representatives to divvy up, Minnesota could lose one of its eight seats since its population growth didn't match other areas of the country.
If that happens, Minnesota's congressional lines would be redrawn and the new puzzle would have only seven pieces, not eight. It's likely the rejiggered map would somehow mash together the 7th and 8th districts and, as a Paynesville resident, Fischbach would end up in Emmer's 6th District.
Minnesota is slated to lose a district, and if there's a stalemate in the divided legislature, here's one possibility for a court-drawn map: Reps. Tom Emmer (R) and Michelle Fischbach (R) thrown together in a new #MN06. pic.twitter.com/B2FEZQp8o2— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 23, 2020
(Although the Constitution only requires a House member live in the state they represent, not necessarily the district.)
Either way, there's a chance it would require an incumbent face an incumbent in a Republican primary.
So that means there's a chance all that money, all that angst, all those endorphins expended by Republicans when they beat Peterson ... will have been burned for a short-term high.
None of this is guaranteed. The redistricting process promises to be a mess because of former President Donald Trump's purposeful befouling of the Census. And Minnesota's redrawn map, if it comes to that, will end up in the courts because the two legislative chambers are controlled by different parties. That's what happened, too, after the 2010 Census and there were major changes in the state's map.
There's even a chance, because of the Census chaos, that Minnesota won't lose a seat. That would be the ultimate break because the state's representation on Congress would remain the same.
If Fischbach does end up out of a job after 2022 it will apparently give her vanquished opponent pleasure. It ain't much, but it's at least a consolation prize for Peterson, a long-valued public servant who was ingloriously thrown out on his keister for no good reason other than hyper-partisan politics.
Readers can reach Forum News Service columnist Mike McFeely at email@example.com or (701) 451-5655