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Friday, August 26, 2011

By the Time I Get to Arizona

Redistricting junkies have come out of the dozens of state commission hearings and were prepared for the next venue: the courts.  But, so far the courts have been a big disappointment.  Some talk of lawsuits, but nothing substantive for folks to sink their teeth into, and no real signs that the court is going to rewrite the state plan. 

Of course, the Referendum Chatter continues, but as far as we can tell nobody with a working knowledge of Maptitude believes that a referendum is going to save the Senate Republicans, so hope that they will raise the $3 million and be successful is fading fast.

For legal drama we have to turn to Arizona.  The Attorney General has filed a case against the Department of Justice arguing that Section 5 of the voting rights act is unconstitutional.  This section states that Arizona, like four counties in CA, must submit all election changes to the Feds for review before they can be applied.  This pre-clearance standard is based on prior discrimination and a calculation of voting underperformance among ethnic groups.

Concern about the formulas to define inclusion of counties and states under Section 5 is not new.  Sacramento based firm Nielsen/Merksamer has been singing a similar tune in an attempt to get the County of Merced a bailout from Section 5.

But Arizona?  Seriously?  They defend their English Only ballots, legalized racial profiling with SB 1070, banned ethnic studies and had a little brush up when they refused to accept the federal Martin Luther King Day.  Even the NFL had to relocate the Super Bowl because the state was so racist.  And now they want to be the case that challenges the need for the Voting Rights Act?  Good luck Arizona.

Back to California we’ve got a few real battles brewing, but none is greater than the race between Brad Sherman and Howard Berman.  Today Joel Fox suggests that it will be Republicans who decide this race in the new Top Two Primary.  However his own article unwittingly points to the argument that it won’t be a top two Sherman vs. Berman as folks are expecting.

The Republican in the race, according to Fox, is Mark Reed, someone who will never be a congressman from this district, but could hold the race’s future in his hands.  In the past election he garnered about 35% of the vote.  In a three way race, this would put him in Second place – at a minimum.

Additionally, the Republican primary electorate will actually have a competitive election at the top of the ticket in 2012 while Democrats will have bubkes.

For all the talk about top-two elections, we have yet to see one.  The Hahn/Bowen congressional appeared to have all the makings: two big spending Democrats in a Democratic district with multiple Republicans to split up their vote.  But in the end it was the union-backed Hahn and the Tea Party backed Huey who made it to the second round.

This Open Primary will complicate prognostication, spending and the results of redistricting.   It will also make it even more fun for the political junkies!

State/Federal

Arizona Sues Feds over Voting Rights Law
East Valley Tribune
Charging that Congress has exceeded its authority, state Attorney General Tom Horne asked a federal court Thursday to void a 36-year-old law governing how Arizona runs its elections.  Here is the complaint

With Redistricting and Top-Two Primary, Republicans Likely Will Decide Which Veteran Democrat Goes Back to Congress in CD 30
Fox and Hounds Daily
The combination of a newly drawn congressional district in a heavily Democratic area along with California's experimental top-two primary probably means Republican voters will determine whether Congressman Howard Berman or Congressman Brad Sherman will represent the newly drawn 30th Congressional District. Fourteen year Congressional veteran Sherman will likely face off with Berman, who has been in Congress twice as long, unless either one decides to seek a different seat, which appears unlikely.

Citizen Group Tasked With Redistricting Dramatically Changes California Map
FoxNews.com
A new electoral map drawn up by a panel of ordinary citizens and criticized as creating too many districts for minority representation has dramatically changed California's political landscape. Members of Congress who've held their seats for years are now scrambling to figure out their political futures.
"We're going to have more competitive elections in November than this state has seen, probably in two decades," political expert Allen Hoffenblum told Fox News.

Redistricting Journal: Dems could pick up seats in California
Political Hotsheet
Recently, competition has been missing in California congressional elections: over the past five cycles, only one congressional district has changed partisan allegiance - California 11 in 2006 moved from Republican to Democrat - out of 265 contests. But that's about to change. Due to an historic redistricting plan finalized by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, an early estimate for 2012 is that at least 15 of the 53 districts may change partisan affiliation, based on our analysis of the demographic and partisan composition of the proposed districts, including two districts almost certain to add Democrats and lose Republicans.

California redistricting has state bracing for dual-incumbent races
Politico
With California’s incumbent-oriented map dismantled by a new bipartisan redistricting panel, as many as eight pairs of members — nearly one-third of the state’s 53-member delegation and more House incumbents than many states have in total – could face off. California political players say they can’t remember a time in the state’s history when so many of its House lawmakers were poised to run against one another.

Asian Americans In California To Benefit From Redistricting
KoreAm
It looks like the political clout of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities has improved due to California’s grand experiment in political redistricting. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission was charged with redrawing the boundaries to better reflect neighborhoods, and many of the new lines leave Asian American neighborhoods intact, thanks in part to a coalition of groups led by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC).

Dale Ho and Peter Wagner: Let's get redistricting right next time
Daily News Los Angeles
But one factor, overlooked during much of the wrangling over district lines, threatens to render those maps inconsistent with the basic principle that everyone should be represented equally in our democracy: the treatment of prison populations as ordinary members of the local community where they incarcerated. This practice, known as "prison-based gerrymandering," distorts the allocation of representation in the legislature. Here's how it works: districts are required to have roughly the same number of constituents, so that everyone is represented equally in the political process. But prison-based gerrymandering artificially inflates population numbers-and thus, political influence - in the places where large prisons are located, diluting representation for everyone else.

Commission Adopts Final Redistricting Maps for California
Los Angeles Japanese Daily News
With APALC’s assistance, CAPAFR also submitted Assembly and Senate mapping proposals to the commission and advocated with the commission to keep intact AAPI communities of interest and neighborhoods. This included the preparation and submission of a “unity” map that CAPAFR jointly prepared with African American and Latino community leaders.

Redistricting to strip ranchers of allies
Capital Press
Under final maps unveiled by a citizens' commission last week, Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, and state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, would no longer have politically charged Siskiyou County within their districts.
LaMalfa and Nielsen have defended ranchers in their dispute with the California Department of Fish and Game over water diversions in the Scott and Shasta valleys. In an April meeting here, LaMalfa blasted state agencies' acts of "regulatory terror" and warned "civil disobedience is going to be a bigger factor around here."

Redistricting Splits Fremont into 2 Congress, Assembly Districts
New America Media
The 14-member California Citizens Redistricting Commission has split the city of Fremont into two congressional and Assembly districts in the latest draft map made public in late July.
However, the Tri-Cities – Fremont, Union City and Newark – remain together in one state Senate district. Fremont leaders and the Indian American community, which lobbied the commission to remain whole in congressional, Senate and Assembly districts, are not happy about the new draft, scheduled to be made final Aug. 15.

LA Redistricting Fights Will Be Expensive and Painful for LGBTs
LGBT POV
The maps by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission redrawing boundaries for the state Assembly, Senate and Congressional Districts may have been finalized on Aug. 15 – but the arguments over lines continues – legally, politically and increasingly, on a very personal level. One fight in particular – between Assembly incumbent and longtime LGBT ally Betsy Butler and longtime LGBT activist Torie Osborn in the newly drawn 50th Assembly District – promises to be very expensive and painful.

Fair Cali Assembly map-alternative redistricting plan: NorCal Bay area
Daily KOS
Wow, this was a lot of work. I'm glad to present my alternative proposal for how to redistrict the Cali Assembly. First, a couple of summary statistics: Out of the 80 districts, just 19 (!) went for McCain, but 29 for Whitman. Lots of swing areas here. Quickly browsing over the districts (I haven't written the analysis yet) I would expect the map to look roughly 55-25ish in a normal year, but with a pretty low GOP floor in Dem wave years.

Redistricting moves Belle Haven and East Palo Alto closer
EPA Today
Menlo Park residents have responded to the decision to split the city into different congressional districts with ardent protest.  The community feels that the commission’s decision will isolate the lower-income, minority community of East Menlo Park from the rest of the city and it conflicts with efforts to revitalize the area. From the beginning, Matt Henry, president of the Belle Haven Homeowners Association, has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the decision to split up Menlo Park.

Redistricting Re-maps Political Relationships in Humboldt County
Two Rivers Tribune
The 2011 redistricting process has ended the long association of Humboldt County with Congressman Mike Thompson who recently announced that he will seek re-election in his new and reshaped Fifth Congressional District. “It has been an honor to represent the North Coast in both the State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Thompson in an Aug. 15 press release. ” I love the area, the people that make it great, and Jan and I have many friends we hold dear. It is sad for me to lose this portion of our district.

Redistricting changes in Siskiyou take effect in 2012
MtShastaNews.com
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission has voted to create new state Senate and Assembly districts that will move Siskiyou County out of District 2 and into a new District 1. The new districts do not go into effect until the 2012 election that will determine who will represent the new district. State Senator Doug LaMalfa and Assemblyman Jim Nielson will continue to represent Siskiyou County until the 2012 election. Although the 2nd Congressional district also saw changes, Congressman Wally Herger will continue to represent Siskiyou County.

REGION: GOP looks to hold North County Assembly seats
North County Times
One goal of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission was to create more competitive election districts, but the panel can't change voter registration numbers. In North County, where registered Republicans enjoy a large advantage, breaking through the solid GOP wall of state Assembly representatives in 2012 will be a tough task for Democrats.

Brad Sherman Criticizes Redistricting Commission for Splitting Valley Village
North Hollywood Toluca Lake Patch
Proposed congressional lines approved by California Citizens Redistricting Commission last month split Valley Village in two, and one congressman is already looking to win voters in the new district. Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman hosted a town hall meeting at the Neighborhood Council Valley Village Wednesday night as part of a campaign stop on his bid for the 30th Congressional District, which would include 90 percent of the neighborhood.

Local

Flawed process -- City and county redistricting plans are vulnerable to political interests
Daily News Los Angeles
First, there are the obvious conflicts. L.A. County is redoing its district lines the old-fashioned way: The five supervisors are proposing and voting on maps themselves. Already, this has created a political squabble. Plans submitted by Supervisors Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas would create a second district in which a majority of voters are Latino. A third plan submitted by Supervisor Don Knabe would keep things more as they have been for the past 10 years.

Monterey County approves redistricting plan
The Californian
By unanimous vote, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors decided this afternoon to chance a lawsuit from the city of Salinas and approved a redistricting plan that leaves supervisorial districts much as they are now. The plan, which makes only minor adjustments to the districts that have been in effect for the past 10 years, creates two districts with super-majorities of Latino voters (60 percent or more) but leaves Salinas divided among four districts.

Orange County Board of Supervisors approves new redistricting plan
Our Weekly
Among the ways the plan proposed put forward by Board Chairman Bill Campbell and passed by a 4-1 vote differs from the committee’s plan is that it moves a portion of Fountain Valley north of Warner Avenue from the Second District to the First District. That move is seen as a benefit for First District Supervisor Janet Nguyen because the area of Fountain Valley going to her district is heavily Vietnamese. Nguyen—who helped create the successful plan that dictates next year’s voting districts—will face re-election in 2012.

San Luis Obispo County Supervisors’ redistricting fiasco
CalCoastNews.com
But this pales in comparison to the way the Supervisors have diluted the vote of the largest and oldest incorporated city in the County (San Luis Obispo), splitting it three ways in their map. By itself San Luis Obispo’s population nearly equates with the population of one supervisorial district. The reality is that representation of voters is most faithful when districts are created based on communities of interest in compact, geographically sensible ways without regard to who hold a representative office like county supervisor.

Oak Park residents fight redistricting
News10.net
Tensions continue to mount in a Sacramento neighborhood, where hundreds of neighbors feel like they're being robbed of their school and hospital. A City Councilmember is proposing to change the district map, putting UC Medical Center and Sacramento High School in his district. It all comes to a point Tuesday night at City Hall, where a City Council meeting is expected to draw a huge turnout for the second week in a row.

City's Redistricting Commission to try and resolve new mapping issues
760AM Talk Radio
The seven members of the city's Redistricting Commission will meet Monday to tackle still-unresolved issues dealing with the drawing of new maps for City Council districts. The meeting, which was added to the original schedule, comes three days before the commissioners are slated to vote on the final plan. The last two meetings attracted overflow crowds, mostly of residents of a section of Rancho Penasquitos who oppose being placed in a district with Mira Mesa instead of the rest of their community.

Scotts Valley Residents Come Out Against County Redistricting Plans
Scotts Valley Patch
Nearly two-dozen Scotts Valley leaders and residents spoke before the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to voice their concerns about the city possibly being split into two under a new supervisorial boundaries redistricting plan.

San Diego Redistricting Commission approves map
San Diego News Room
After months of public hearings and controversies, the city of San Diego's Redistricting Commission today approved a new map for City Council districts. The final product from the commission represents a radical change from the current boundaries because a ninth district was squeezed in -- the result of San Diego's change in its form of governance several years ago. The new District 9 will run from the College Area toward the southwest down to Southcrest.

Despite a Looming Deadline, Capo Delays Hiring Redistricting Consultant
Mission Viejo Patch
The process to start redrawing school-attendance boundaries and voting districts for Capistrano Unified will be delayed by perhaps 45 days, frustrating administrators who fear there may not be enough time to pull off the task by a state-mandated deadline. Unhappy with the number of consultants bidding to do the work, the school board voted to do a mulligan and search for more firms. This time, it wants the two items—school-attendance boundaries and trustee areas—bid on separately.