A proposal put before the Minnesota Legislature, introduced by Republican Rep. Jeremy Munson, outlines the growing divide that exists between metro, or eastern, Minnesota and rural outstate counties.
Munson introduced legislation that would allow counties to decide whether to stay in Minnesota or join Republican-dominated states like North Dakota and South Dakota.
Actually, Munson’s proposal tends to point more toward a move to South Dakota, potentially creating a massive L-shaped state that would include South Dakota as well as a segment of Minnesota that runs west of a north-south line east of Baudette, Minn., and through St. Cloud and Mankato.
Munson, of Lake Crystal, Minn., started a petition on his website; shortly after he announced the proposal, he had gathered nearly 6,500 signatures.
It’s never going to happen, but since it’s in the political sphere, it’s worth discussion. The proposal, HF 2423, would allow counties to “disassociate with Minnesota and join neighboring states,” Munson said in a letter to the Mankato Free Press. “It’s a long process that requires four steps, much discussion and both a statewide ballot initiative and congressional approval.”
Munson said he drafted the legislation after talks with many people over the past two years. In Minnesota, most rural counties lean right; the metro counties lean left. Meanwhile, metro counties have vastly different legislative priorities than their rural counterparts.
Via Twitter, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem recently said — apparently in reference to Munson’s proposal — that “in South Dakota, we roll out the red carpet for people who love personal responsibility and freedom.”
South Dakota and North Dakota both supported former President Trump with more than 60% of the vote in the past two presidential elections, as did most of rural Minnesota. So, if a secession is allowed and counties begin an exodus from rural Minnesota, those dark red counties would find a political haven in the Dakotas.
David H. Montgomery, who has vast news experience in Minnesota and South Dakota, penned an interesting analysis article on Munson’s proposal for Minnesota Public Radio.
A few of Montgomery’s points:
- The roughly 300,000 Democrats who reside in the (hypothetically) seceding Minnesota counties wouldn’t be pleased. Nor would the roughly 900,000 Republicans who would be stranded in eastern Minnesota.
- South Dakota politicians would face great challenges. For example, can’t-lose Republican Sen. John Thune would, no doubt, have serious competition in a Republican primary.
- Residents in Bemidji or Willmar likely wouldn’t be pleased with a state Capitol in rural Pierre, S.D. Moving the center of government from Pierre would infuriate South Dakotans.
- And while Noem might have open arms on this proposal, would other South Dakotans? After all, if Munson’s plan ever became reality, South Dakota could see a million new residents — easily outnumbering the state’s current population. While they might agree in principle on conservative issues, how would those ex-Minnesotans vote on, say, mining and ranching issues in the region South Dakotans simply call “West River”?
In the end, it doesn’t matter. Nothing will come of this, except publicity for Munson. And we agree with the Mankato Free Press that this is a waste of legislative time and, potentially, taxpayer money.
This other view is the opinion of the editorial board of our sister publication, the Grand Forks Herald.