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THE NOONER for December 22, 2011

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TWEET DU JOUR: @tedlieu - "I can't wait for the super secret Dem email that says let's put Berman/Sherman and Hahn/Richardson together just for kicks."

#40DOLLARS: is half my weekly coffee bill through Pepper Peddler. Feel free to help pay for the Around The Capitol server or my coffee.

HACKS DRAW THE LINES: If you haven't heard about ProPublica's article on California's redistricting process, which alleges Democratic Party influence in the process, you're likely already on vacation. From Facebook, to Twitter to Politico, it has the talk of the political world from Sacramento to DC since it came out yesterday afternoon. Thank goodness, because talking about a payroll tax holiday and some damn pipeline was getting really old.

Despite John Burton claiming the story is "complete bull...t, an absolute f...ing fabrication," people I trust with knowledge of the process privately say that the article is about 90% right. Democrats fought hard to protect a few districts--particularly Judy Chu's Asian district in San Gabriel, Loretta Sanchez's Latino district in Orange County and the Dem district Jerry McNerney won from Richard Pombo in 2006. John Myers has the best independent rundown on the story

If the Republican Party was stupid enough to not organize public testimony, shame on them. That's akin to a head coach standing on the sideline of a bowl game and not yelling at the referees. I know just as many brilliant GOP political consultants as Dem consultants that could have played a role. Further, Republicans have a lot more resources from DC than the Democrats do, given the control of the House. If Democrats can marshal resources to protect Jerry McNerney, certainly Republicans can do so on behalf of House Rules Chairman David Dreier.

From what I hear, Republican leaders were told not to engage. That is political malpractice.

Whether it's city council meetings, legislative hearings or, yes, redistricting commission meetings, people that speak in public comment are usually organized by some other individual or organization. Only the crazy folks show up on their own. The redistricting commission had public comment for a reason, and people showed up to testify for a reason. And, if you haven't used an Astroturf organization in your advocacy or political campaigns, you're not a professional.

It's also worth noting that the allegations are that Democrats manipulated the commission to protect incumbents, not to increase the number of Democrats going to Washington. Meanwhile, the GOP's biggest gripe is that the plan is drawn to elect more Dems. If that was the Dem goal, Brian Bilbray's district would go to Chula Vista. In contrast, former Republican leader Jim Brulte publicly acknowledges that he was given a goal of 20 GOP seats in the 2001 redistricting, which he got until the McNerney seat flipped in 2006.

Anyway, that's all I have to say about the article, and applaud the authors for the hard work that went into an interesting story.

I do want to dismiss the hyperbole that the commission's plan will deliver Democrats 6-7 more congressional seats in 2012. I just don't see that happening.

The "Safe Dem" seats increase by only 1--CD41 in Riverside with a Dem margin of +7%. And, even that one isn't easy, with Riverside CCD trustee Mark Takano (D) facing off against Riverside supe John Tavaglione (R).

Then, we have the swing seats:

  • CD07 (R) - (Lungren/Bera)
  • CD21 (R) - (Rubio/Valadao)
  • CD24 (D) - (Capps/Maldonado)
  • CD26 (R) - (Ventura--awaiting Gallegly's decision)
  • CD31 (R) - (San Bernardino--awaiting Lewis's decision)

The other two that are in the mix are CD47, the Long Beach seat where State Senator Alan Lowenthal faces off against either former Congressman Steve Kuykendall, councilmember Gary DeLong or Los Al councilmember Troy Edgar. This is a Democratic seat (currently Laura Richardson's seat, but she's running for CD44) that Republicans have a legitimate chance to pick up in a GOP trend.

The other two seats that could become a factor if Obama really pulls of a Tim Tebow-like comeback in the fourth quarter are CD10 (Denham) and CD52 (Bilbray).

From a one-year out perspective, there are 9 seats in serious play, 7 of which are currently Republican. For Dems to increase the delegation from 34 up to 41 of the state's 53 congressional districts, they would have to run the tables in every one of these races, and hold the Santa Barbara and Long Beach seats. That would be akin to picking a perfect bowl games bracket and will only happen if the California Republican Party refuses to play, like they did with the redistricting commission that they created.

My current projections on these nine seats, based on the current climate and candidates (that will likely change by next November) are that Dems win CD21, CD26, CD41, and CD47, and Reps take CD07, CD10, CD24, and CD52. Until we know who the Republican candidates are in CD26 and CD31, no projections can be made. Of the ones we know about, they would provide Dems with a net +3 for a delegation of 37-16. I'll dive into each district when we return in January.

Ladies and gents, start the hate mail to scott@scottlay.com.

The increase in Dem seats is not a surprise, as this is the first non-incumbent-based redistricting since 1991 and the Democratic Party's registration differential has increased from 10.25% in November 1990 to 13.06% in November 2010. Were lines drawn to benefit Democrats? Undoubtedly. But, it was more demographics than deception.

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EXCLUSIVE: I have exclusive video of the jiu-jitsu that was pulled before the redistricting commission. If you listen very carefully, you'll hear "split the Vietnamese community."

DISCLOSURE: Paul Mitchell and I go back to the days when he had hair to his ass and traveled with paper bag "suitcases." He's a former board member of the Community College League and his firm Redistricting Partners is providing outstanding redistricting services for 20 community college districts through a program with the League. 

NON-DISCLOSURE: Cal-Access is still down, but the money keeps coming in.

QUICK QUESTION: A survey respondent suggested killing the pictures with the headlines that follow. If you agree or disagree, let me know with a reply.

TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
The Frenzy Over ProPublica's Redistricting Report
John Myers @
blogs.kqed.org
It should come as little surprise that California's political class is all abuzz over a new and lengthy report on the state's first ever independent redistricting process, one that describes in great detail private machinations apparently employed to help influence the final placement of district lines.

CA Dem Chair John Burton Lambastes Story Alleging Party Redistricting Manipulation As "Complete Bull...t"
Carla Marinucci @
blog.sfgate.com
California Democratic Party chair John Burton, asked moments ago for his comment about the new ProPublica story that contends Democrats here manipulated the state’s redistricting process, was pretty direct: "It's complete bull…t, an absolute f…ing fabrication."

Gov. Jerry Brown Appoints EDD Director, Other Top Posts
Kevin Yamamura @
blogs.sacbee.com
Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed a longtime state manager to direct the California Employment Development Department, which oversees unemployment and disability benefits, he announced today.

Political Blotter: Don Perata Opts Out Of Contra Costa Supervisor Race
contracostatimes.com
After weeks of discussions with local leaders and reviewing the results of an internal public opinion poll, former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata says he will not run for Contra Costa County supervisor.

California Issue Of The Year: The Two-thirds Vote :: Fox&hounds
foxandhoundsdaily.com
The two-thirds vote to raise taxes has been attacked often since it became part of the California constitution in 1978. However, every time the two-thirds vote to raise taxes has appeared in ballot measures since then, voters have reaffirmed it.

ProPublica Report Sparks GOP Outrage
Alex Isenstadt @
politico.com
The fallout surrounding the explosive ProPublica report that California Democrats manipulated the state's supposedly independent redistricting process begins.

How Democrats Fooled California's Redistricting Commission
Olga Pierce and Jeff Larson @
propublica.org
This spring, a group of California Democrats gathered at a modern, airy office building just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The meeting was House members only — no aides allowed — and the mission was seemingly impossible.

Gingrich To Gay Man: Vote Obama
Will Kane @
blog.sfgate.com
Republican Presidential contender Newt Gingrich had one message for a gay Iowa man: Don’t bother with me, vote Obama.

'Reform' Initiative Wears A Soiled White Hat
Dan Morain @
sacbee.com
The latest initiative to qualify for the 2012 ballot is thick with the earnest rhetoric of white-hat-wearing good government reformers. It's also dripping with cynicism.

CA Officers Own 7,600 Assault Guns
Don Thompson @
mercurynews.com
Peace officers throughout California have bought more than 7,600 assault weapons that are outlawed for civilians in the decade since state lawmakers allowed the practice, according to data obtained by The Associated Press after it was revealed that federal authorities are investigating illegal gun sales by law enforcement.

APNewsBreak: AG seeks changes to CA medi-pot laws
LISA LEFF, Associated Press @
signonsandiego.com
Attorney General Kamala Harris urged California lawmakers Thursday to get serious about clarifying the state's medical marijuana law, saying numerous holes in the notoriously liberal statute have left law enforcement and legitimate patients in a near-constant state of uncertainty.

Oakland Port Policing Proposal Fails To Pass
Matthai Kuruvila @
sfgate.com
A proposal before the Oakland City Council directing police to stop any future port blockades didn't even make it to a vote Tuesday night, as four of the eight council members used a procedural move to prevent it from...

Battle over Bilbray tax-cut vote mirror's national debate
Christopher Cadelago @
signonsandiego.com
Rep. Brian Bilbray's vote to reject a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut drew sharp criticism from his Democratic opponents Wednesday, mirroring at home the partisan divide that has roiled Washington.

Engineers Group Says Bay Bridge Concerns Argue For Privatizing
Jon Ortiz @
blogs.sacbee.com
The American Council of Engineering Companies of California has put up a You Tube post to promote its take on questions raised by The Bee concerning structural tests of the Bay Bridge's new span.

Senate Republican Leader Suggests a Payroll Tax Deal
nytimes.com
Senator Mitch McConnell proposed that the House pass an extension while Senate Democrats commit to forming a negotiating committee to reach a long-term agreement.

From a N.H. voter, some advice to Romney on 'flip flops'
Maeve Reston @
latimes.com
With their political savvy and proximity to presidential candidates every four years, many New Hampshire voters fancy themselves to be quasi-political consultants. And in Bethlehem on Thursday morning, Randall Loiacono offered Mitt Romney some advice about what is widely viewed as one of his chief vulnerabilities – the fact that he has changed his mind on a number of issues over the years.

AP NewsBreak: AG seeks changes to CA medi-pot laws
The Associated Press @
signonsandiego.com
Attorney General Kamala Harris is urging California lawmakers to get serious about clarifying the state's notoriously murky medical marijuana law.

News Analysis: Obama's Piecemeal Approach to Health Law in States
nytimes.com
The Obama administration’s surprise announcement Friday that it planned to give states broad leeway to pick the benefits offered under the federal health care law offers yet another example of a gradualist approach to carrying out its signal domestic policy achievement.

Senate GOP leader urges House to break impasse on payroll tax cut
Andrew Taylor and Laurie Kellman @
mercurynews.com
WASHINGTON -- The Senate's top Republican on Thursday urged the GOP-led House to pass a short-term renewal of payroll tax cuts and break an impasse that threatens 160 million workers with a 2 percentage point tax increase on Jan.

Brown Makes Two Appointments
sacbee.com
Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed a longtime state manager to direct the California Employment Development Department, which oversees unemployment and disability benefits, he announced Wednesday.

DeMaio task force to look at pension changes
signonsandiego.com
City Councilman Carl DeMaio, a candidate for San Diego mayor, has created a task force that he says will examine proposed changes to the city’s pension system and how best to implement them.

The Caucus: Romney Refuses to Criticize Boehner Over Payroll Tax Vote
nytimes.com
Mitt Romney supports extending a payroll tax holiday, but he wouldn't comment on the Republican divide in the House and Senate over the issue.

California Democrats secretly influenced drawing of new political district boundaries
Lisa Vorderbrueggen @
mercurynews.com
California's congressional Democrats ran a secret campaign earlier this year to manipulate the work of the independent citizen's panel that drew the state's new political districts, foiling the intent of reformers who sought to remove the redistricting process from the control of party bosses.

Newt challenges Romney over payroll tax flap
Maggie Haberman @
politico.com
POLITICO's James Hohmann reports from the Virginia trail: Newt Gingrich said Mitt Romney's failure to take a position on the payroll tax cut debate reflects both a failure to lead and a level of timidity that should turn off voters.