by Bruce P. Corrie, PhD
The current election cycle in Minnesota had at least 21 ALANA candidates running for the legislature. This included at least 4 Native American candidates, 6 Latino candidates, 6 African American candidates, 3 African immigrant candidates and 2 Asian American candidates. What was the final result from the November 8, election?
The good news is that the Minnesota legislature has become more diverse – increasing the number of ALANA legislators from 11 to 16. 14 of them being Democrat and 2 Republicans. 5 are Latino, 4 are African American, 4 are Native American, 2 are Asian and 1 is an African immigrant.
All four Native American legislators are Democrats and are in the House. 2 Latino legislators in the House are Republican. There are 2 Latina Senators. There is one Asian American legislator each in the House and Senate. There are 2 African American Senators and 2 Representatives. There is 1 African immigrant legislator in the House.
The Minnesota success story is its ability to create a space in the political process for the ALANA communities in the legislature whether it is new immigrant groups like the Hmong or Somali or older minority groups. It is true that a legislative gap persists – ALANA legislators make up only 8 percent of legislators while ALANA communities make up 20 percent of the population in Minnesota.
There are large segments of the 30 billion ALANA economy that do not have adequate political representation. To address that concern OneMN.org produced a detailed economic picture of the ALANA economy for every legislative district in the state.
The challenge forward is threefold:
- Increasing ALANA representation in legislature by both the major parties recruiting and supporting ALANA candidates get elected.
- More active representation of ALANA economic interests by existing legislators. OneMN.org made a case to the Judicial Redistricting Panel to increase ALANA representation. The Court responded with a credible plan for representation. However the economic and political representation of the ALANA community has not been adequately addressed.
- Deepen the ALANA presence in both houses at the legislature and include them in key leadership posts. In the 2016 legislature two ALANA legislators were key players in pushing for investments in the community. The change in leadership with the GOP controlling both houses at the legislature brings the 2 GOP Latino legislators into the spotlight to lead in representing ALANA economic interests.