As defeated 2010 DFL congressional candidate Tarryl Clark weighs her plans in 2012, Minnesota’s redistricting process has the former state senator keeping her options open for a run against both Sixth District Rep. Michele Bachmann and Eighth District freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack.
That’s because Clark’s home in St. Cloud could wind up in three different districts — the Sixth, Seventh or Eighth — depending on how the state redraws its congressional lines. DFL party insiders are looking at Clark as a potential challenger in the Eighth, where other prominent DFLers have said no already.
In an interview last week, Clark told the Star Tribune it was still too soon to make plans for 2012, but added that she isn’t likely done with public service.
“St. Cloud could be in three different districts,” Clark said. “Obviously, that impacts lots of people’s decisions, and mine as well.”
Through redistricting, Bachmann’s Sixth District will need to shed more than 94,000 people, according to 2009 estimates. The Eighth needs to gain about 13,000, while the Seventh must add around 46,000.
If Clark were to run against Cravaack, she would likely be in a more Democratic district against a freshman incumbent rather than Bachmann, who shattered House records in fundraising last year.
“One of the things we’re hearing a bit in the Eighth District is, ‘How about Tarryl Clark?’” said Wy Spano, a longtime DFL strategist and co-director of the Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership program at University of Minnesota Duluth. “She may not have to move.”
But should she choose to run, Clark’s fate would likely be tied to whether the eastern part of Stearns County is moved into the Eighth. The outcome of the state’s redistricting, which is in the hands of the state legislature but will likely wind up in court, may not be known until 2012.
“If she had to move into the district in order to do it, I think that would be tougher,” Spano said.
Bill Usher, the DFL's Sixth District chair, said that he’s had a couple of short conversations with Clark, and that the Eighth District is “part of the equation.”
“She just seems to be basically waiting to see what happens herself,” Usher said. “She does have a great campaign structure in place, and is very good at raising money, so she’s somebody where we’d certainly be in a position of strength.”
Don Bye, Eighth District chair for the DFL, said he’s yet to speak with Clark about running, but said he's open to the idea. “It could happen, and I think Tarryl is a very viable person as a candidate,” Bye said.