By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Former Attorney General Eric Holder is in Minnesota in an effort to prevent gerrymandering, the practice of rezoning congressional districts in favor of a political party.

Holder heads a group called the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. The group is focusing on 12 battleground states, including Minnesota.

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Redistricting happens because all 435 House seats must have the same number of people. After the census every 10 years, there is a scramble to move district boundaries to get the numbers right.

Holder says his group is targeting Minnesota for what is at stake this election year and in the future.

The next redistricting in Minnesota and across the country will happen in 2021, right after the 2020 census.

“What I decided to do along with President Obama was to come up with a way in which we made a concerted Democratic effort to make sure the process in 2021 was way more fair than in 2011,” Holder said.

In Minnesota, it’s the state legislature that redraws those boundaries. In 2011, Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the Republican legislature’s boundaries, saying they unfairly stacked some districts with too many Republicans.

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“If the Democratic governor had not been in place, I suspect Minnesota would look very much like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio that were really gerrymandered by Republicans in 2011,” Holder said.

Because of Minnesota’s relatively slow population growth, the 2021 redistricting could be especially painful because the state could lose one of its eight Congressional seats.

“It impacts how much money the state gets, our power in Washington,” professor Larry Jacobs said. “Those eight congressional districts are literally money in the pockets of Minnesota voters.”

Holder will be meeting with Minnesota DFL Legislators as well, as the Democratic candidate for governor, Tim Walz. But he says he is not trying to tilt the deck unfairly for Democrats.

“This is not an attempt to gerrymander for Democrats,” Holder said. “I will stand against any Democrat who tries to gerrymander for the party, all I am saying is that we want to have this done in a fair way.”

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Holder says he is also considering running for president, but for now he will focus on the redistricting effort.

Esme Murphy