Monday, February 27, 2012

Three Feet High and Rising

It is a good thing that redistricting only happens once a decade, because it's kinda confusing, especially at the local level. At the congressional level, things are starting to come into focus a bit, including here in the Fighting 4th CD, a DFL bulwark for over 60 years now.

The incumbent is Betty McCollum, who has alternated between being an ineffectual backbencher (when the GOP has control) to being a reliable sycophant for Nancy Pelosi (when the Democrats have control). She's been in the seat since 2001 and has been largely invisible in areas of her district that are not part of St. Paul proper; in general she's treated Larpenteur Avenue as a sort of demilitarized zone. Since she can reliably expect 70% of the votes in St. Paul, and many of the St. Paul suburbs are purplish, that has meant she has had little trouble winning elections.

In the past two cycles, the Republicans offered top notch candidates with outstanding credentials, both of whom got absolutely nowhere. Ed Matthews and Teresa Collett, in a normal congressional district, would have wiped the floor with Betty McCollum, but there was no way as the 4th was configured.

This time around, things are different. Population growth in the suburbs has forced the 4th CD to grow and it now includes areas that should be much more amenable for GOP candidates, especially in prosperous Washington County. And while nothing is assured until the 4th CD Republican convention, the likely candidate to oppose McCollum is Dan Flood. I met Flood recently and was impressed -- he's a smart, tough-minded guy. He's going to have a tough battle to get much traction, since McCollum will do her best to ignore his candidacy and avoid debates at all costs, but it won't be as easy this time. We'll be watching this race closely.

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