Democrats exiting the sinking ship?--Part 19: Minnesota 

Republican Eric Paulsen beat the odds in 2008, winning 48%-41% in the suburban Minneapolis 3rd congressional district while Barack Obama was carrying it 52%-46%. Once upon a time the 3rd was Minnesota’s most Republican district, but since the late 1990s it has been trending Democratic, thanks to the liberal cultural attitudes of its upscale affluent voters. Looking ahead from the 2008 election, it looked like a tempting target for Democrats, even though 2008 nominee Ashwin Media fell short.

But now comes the news that state Senator Terri Bonoff, who narrowly lost to Media at the DFL nominating convention, won’t run this year. She said she was “interested in the congressional opportunity,” but decided to wait until 2012, when redistricting takes place. That sounds a bit fishy, since Minnesota may very well lose a House seat in reapportionment, and if the DFL, which currently has large majorities in the legislature, wins the governorship this year and thus controls congressional redistricting, it will likely try to squash the three Republican-held suburban Twin Cities seats into two districts. That would allow expansion of the two Minneapolis- and St. Paul-based urban districts and the retention of the southern 1st district held by Democrat Tim Walz (presuming he wins again in 2010) and the two northern Minnesota districts held by Democratic committee chairmen Collin Peterson and James Oberstar. So Bonoff’s prospects of finding a more agreeable district to run in are low—but perhaps not as low as she calculated the chances of beating Eris Paulsen this year.

The two Democrats remaining in the race have each raised less than $50,000 this cycle, though one contributed $103,000 to her campaign.

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Michael Barone

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