Minnesota 4th District
Above the Mississippi River bluffs stand the two great landmarks of St. Paul: the Minnesota Capitol and Archbishop Ireland’s Cathedral. This is the older and smaller of the Twin Cities, settled mainly by Catholic Irish and German immigrants in the 1850s, while Minneapolis was attracting Protestant Swedes and Yankees. St. Paul became a major transportation hub, a railroad center and river port, while Minneapolis, farther upriver at the Falls of St. Anthony, became the nation’s largest grain-milling center. Both industries stoked the ire of farmers in the Dakotas who had no choice but to deal with them to make a living. Beneath the Capitol and the cathedral, the city’s skywalk-linked downtown is home to the Ordway Music Theater, the headquarters of Minnesota Public Radio and an active pop-music industry; the Winter Carnival is an annual highlight. Beyond the cathedral is Summit Avenue, on which capitalists like the Great Northern Railway’s James J. Hill built grandiose Romanesque houses. With Monument Avenue in Richmond and Meridian Street in Indianapolis, it remains one of America’s grand 19th century residential boulevards. The parallel Grand Avenue is home to a pleasant commercial strip with a walkable, urban feel; more modest neighborhoods elsewhere are notable for their grid streets lined with sturdy houses. In recent years, St. Paul has had a mixed bag of results in economic development. It scored a major coup by landing the 2008 Republican National Convention at its state-of-the-art Xcel Energy Center. But its fading industrial base took a blow when Ford Motor Co. announced that it would close its local plant by September 2009, at a cost of nearly 1,000 jobs. The facility made Ranger light trucks.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District is made up of St. Paul, the Ramsey County suburbs to the north, and the southern suburbs of West St. Paul and South St. Paul. When a special panel of judges drew the new districts in 2002, they rejected a Republican proposal to combine Minneapolis and St. Paul into one district and made only modest changes in the boundaries. St. Paul was one of the most Democratic parts of Minnesota even before the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party was formed in 1944, and it remained proudly DFL for a half-century. It voted to re-elect Mayor Norm Coleman in 1997 after he switched to the Republican party, but he failed to carry a single precinct in the city when he ran successfully for the Senate in 2002, and he lost Ramsey County 60% to 40% in his 2008 re-election bid. The area has become home to more than 24,000 Hmong immigrants, the largest concentration in any American city. The Hmong had been recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Special Forces during the Vietnam War and resettled here after Laos fell to the Communists in 1975. Another 5,000 refugees arrived from Thailand in 2004 and 2005. The 4th District seat has been held by the DFL since it elected Rep. Eugene McCarthy in 1948, and remains the second most Democratic district in the state.