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Monday, February 27, 2012

Coulda, Shoulda

This weekend’s Republican Convention appeared to be perfectly timed for the Friday announcement that the State Senate Redistricting referendum would qualify for the ballot in November. 

The news hit the Burlingame confab with a collective “harrumph.”  After spending a couple million dollars to qualify the measure it is now, by all accounts, an orphan.  No way to impact the lines for 2012, no way to get a preview of what redrawn lines would look like, and no funded interest group out there to advocate for it.  The measure still needs “Yes” votes in order for the commission plan to be confirmed by voters, and without any funded campaign it will be up to the mainstream media (meaning Facebook and Twitter) to inform voters.

While Republicans decry the commission process, one of their sharpest sticks, Chandra Sharma of Meridian Pacific, posted on Friday an alternative Congressional plan that would have been worse.  The plan, which can be seen in detail here, would have given Republicans 14 or 15 seats out of the available 53.

This plan may not be a Burton-esque work of art, but it is a serious look by a serious line-drawer at the impacts of a partisan redraw.  And Chandra knows something about that. 

In one of the amazing and untold stories of this year’s redistricting Chandra and Matt Rexroad were hired by folks who opposed a BOE plan being forwarded by the commission that would have given Democrats a 3-1 advantage.  Their plan would have returned it to a 2-2 balance allowing Republicans, with the occasional cross-over vote of Jerome Horton, to be relevant.  The plan wasn’t wholeheartedly accepted by the commission, but in rejecting the Chandra plan they did a murder-suicide of their own.  A last minute live linedraw resulted in the 2-2 alignment and a victory for Chandra’s clients. 

If Republicans had done for the Senate what they did for the BOE it could have been the Democrats spending a couple million on a doomed referendum!   Republicans could have avoided all the harrumphing about redistricting, instead harrumphed about Anthony Adams announcing his run for Congress as an independent.



The Voting Rights Act is outmoded, unworkable
The National Law Journal
The U.S. Supreme Court was surely correct last month when it unanimously overturned the Texas electoral maps a San Antonio federal district court drew because that court did not use the "appropriate standards" in drawing them. The Court explained that, regardless of the legal ambiguities and other challenges the lower court faced, it still had to use the maps enacted by the state Legislature as a starting point and only depart from them in redrawing districts that could violate the Voting Rights Act or the Constitution.

California Redistricting could have been much worse for GOP
Fox & Hounds
Many in the California GOP aren’t happy with the outcome of the redistricting process. Some have even gone as far as to suggest that Republicans would have been better off letting the legislature draw and approve their own lines instead of adopting a citizen commission. They’re dead wrong, and I can prove it. Redistricting is a high-stakes game no matter where it’s played – having the ability to define how political districts are drawn, and consequently the ability to manipulate those districts to dilute an opponent’s base of support to create favorable matchups, can cause massive shifts in power and governance at the drop of a hat.

Referendum Seeking to Overturn Senate Redistricting Plan Qualifies for Ballot
Walnut Patch
A referendum seeking to overturn the redistricting plan for the state Senate has qualified for the November ballot, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced Friday. Valid signatures from 504,760 registered voters -- 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 general election -- were needed to qualify the referendum for the ballot. Major financial support for the signature-gathering drive came from the California Republican Party and the re-election campaign of Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel.

Senate GOP leader: caucus unlikely to fund redistricting referendum
The Sacramento Bee
Don't expect members of the Senate Republican Caucus to write big checks to back the referendum of the district lines they fought to qualify for the ballot. Senate GOP leader Bob Huff said today that the caucus probably won't finance the November campaign asking voters to reject the maps drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission. "We have seats to defend. That's a higher priority," the Diamond Bar Republican said.

California Senate maps will go before voters in November
The Sacramento Bee
A Republican-backed referendum to overthrow California's newly drawn Senate districts qualified Friday for the November statewide ballot. The secretary of state's office announced that 511,457 of the 711,307 referendum signatures submitted by the group were those of registered voters, more than the 504,760 needed to qualify. Because legislative primary elections will be held before November ballots are cast, however, the Supreme Court ruled last month that the contested Senate districts will be used in this year's balloting.

Repeal of new state Senate voting districts on Nov. 6 ballot
The Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Sacramento and Los Angeles -- California voters will decide in November whether to repeal new voting districts for the state Senate, drawn last year by a citizens panel they created. Republican activists on Friday qualified a referendum on the issue. Elections officials determined that the group Fairness and Accountability In Redistricting (FAIR) turned in 511,457 valid signatures of registered voters, about 6,000 more than needed to put the question on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Redistricting California Style – Bad Idea Gone Bad (Part 3)
With the commission in place and member alliances created, the most important decisions affecting reapportionment could now be made. Because the commission had no staff and no operating precedent, all of the key support positions had to be hired, and decisions regarding committee procedure had to be made. The Proposition had decreed that the final maps needed to be approved by a supermajority, which meant that within each of the three groups (Republicans, Democrats and Decline-to-States); a majority had to support the final plan.


Redistricting commission votes on new LA Unified school board boundaries
After five hours of heated discussion Thursday night that included accusations of political pandering, gerrymandering, and a lack of public outreach, the L.A. Unified Redistricting Commission overwhelmingly agreed on a map of new school board boundaries to send over to the City Council. The map named "Cv1" (plus minor adjustments) was approved by a 14-1 commission vote. Commissioner Mark Lewis voted against the map because he said it would break up multiple communities within District 5.

For a Unified City, Divide Downtown
Los Angeles Downtown News
The painful city redistricting process will continue for several more months. Already numerous City Council members and Angelenos have expressed anger at how maps have been drawn. With the process set to shift from an appointed commission to elected individuals, the fracas could escalate. Disputes have surfaced across Los Angeles, with some people protesting that communities would be divided, and others claiming that proposed boundaries would erase decades of hard-won productivity. Many have charged that public testimony was ignored. There have been threats of lawsuits. There may be more before the process comes to an end.

Draft LAUSD map creates 3rd majority Latino district
Contra Costa Times
The citizen commission redrawing LAUSD voting boundaries discarded its original draft maps and adopted a plan that carves out a third majority district for the city's Latino population.The map given initial approval late Thursday by the LAUSD Redistricting Commission retains a Latino majority in Nury Martinez's east San Fernando Valley district, and extends Monica Garcia's reach from Koreatown through East Los Angeles.

Not All of the Voices Were Heard About Redistricting
Studio City Patch
I will fill you in on the evidence...21 copies for the commissioners of 107 emails sent to me from Studio City stakeholders were given to Mr. (Andrew) Westall at the very beginning of Wednesday's meeting, but none of it was distributed to the commissioners. Many other documents brought in for the commissioners were given to them. Those of us attending the meetings were told to send, email, fax or bring in information for the commissioners, but none of it was transmitted to them, except an email from a Toluca Lake resident.


Hotel & Restaurant Workers' Union Endorses Lara
Long Beach Post
Calling him "the best choice for working families," UNITE HERE Local 11 announced its backing of Ricardo Lara for the newly drawn 33rd State Senate district. UNITE HERE Local 11 represents more than 20,000 workers employed in hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas and convention centers throughout Southern California. Tom Walsh, union president, cited Ricardo’s work as a leading member of an ad hoc group in the Assembly that worked to address the environmental and traffic concerns associated with building a new stadium in Los Angeles.

Citizen candidate to challenge Dianne Feinstein in Senate race
David Levitt, founding director of OccupyGovernment.org, told Cenk Uygur back in October that his organization had a candidate in mind to challenge U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). But he left out one important detail: He is that candidate. Levitt, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, officially announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate earlier this month and announced Thursday that he's secured the signatures needed to get on the ballot statewide.

California Republicans seek roster of statewide candidates
The Sacramento Bee
As California Republicans gather this weekend for their biannual convention, they will do so with no statewide officeholder and no obvious stable of up-and-comers to compete for one. Two years after Democrats swept Republicans in statewide races in the 2010 election, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is unlikely to face a serious challenge from any Republican in her re-election bid this year. Though it's early, there is almost no noise from Republicans about candidates for the gubernatorial election and other statewide races in 2014.

16th Congressional District GOP candidates debate in Madera
ABC 30
Representative Jim Costa will formally announce his candidacy for re-election to congress on Thursday. The Fresno Democrat is running for the new 16th Congressional District seat. The two Republicans who also want that office debated in Madera. Dairy farmer Johnny Tacherra and attorney Brian Whelan tried to appeal to their conservative audience and voters. "I do not believe Obama-care is constitutional. As soon as I get in there, we're getting it out," said congressional candidate Brian Whelan (R). "A good strong candidate has gotta stand up in Washington for the bible and the constitution," said congressional candidate Johnny Tacherra (R).

Assembly candidate gets party nod
The Reporter
A Contra Costa County politician hoping to win the newly created 11th State Assembly District race has received the nomination of his party at the state level. Oakley city councilman Jim Frazier was selected by the California Democratic Party as its nominee to represent Solano and Contra Costa counties in the 11th Assembly District, according to a press release from his campaign. The nomination was the result of a consent calendar vote taken during the California Democratic Party Pre-Endorsement Conference in Sacramento in late July. Frazier has served on the Oakley City Council since 2008.

Assembly candidates’ 2011 fundraising revealed
Elk Grove Citizen
Three candidates running for the seat in the newly formed 9th Assembly District all said they are where they want to be financially heading into the June primary. The top two candidates from the June primary will face off in November. Campaign finance disclosure statements filed with the California Secretary of State’s Office indicate Elk Grove City Council Member Sophia Scherman received $22,044 in contributions last year. She spent $22,662 in 2011, but she ended the year with $5,885 in cash on hand.

SEIU California Backs Betsy Butler in 50th Assembly District
SEIU California
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California today announced the endorsement of Assemblywoman Betsy Butler for re-election to the State Assembly. SEIU California’s endorsements are made in a town hall process in which members evaluate candidates’ policy positions, listen to them speak, interview them, and then make their decisions. The town halls are open to all members in each district. “Assembly Member Betsy Butler is a brave, passionate, and outspoken leader on issues affecting working families, and, in particular, working women,” said Juana Jauregui, a child care provider from Assembly District 50.

CA-26: Democrat Rep Brad Sherman is OUT and Assemblywoman Julia Brownley Is IN
Flap’s Blog
Well, the rumors have born some fruit with California Assemblywoman Julia Brownley announcing over the long President’s Holiday weekend that she will run for Congress. Rep. Brad Sherman had coincidentally announced that he was remaining in CA-30 to duke it out with fellow Democrat Rep. Howard Berman for that Congressional seat. Brownley lives in Santa Monica, but told Timm Herdt of the Ventura County Star that she would rent an apartment in Oak Park (unincorporated, Ventura County, but in CA-26) yesterday.

Dahle in Assembly race
Anderson Valley Post
A Lassen County supervisor will challenge a slate of candidates, including Redding City Councilman Rick Bosetti, for the 1st District California State Assembly seat. Republican Brian Dahle, 46, says he has the experience to set him above a group of predominately conservative candidates. A farmer from Bieber who owns a grain-seed business, Dahle said his 15 years on the Lassen County Board of Supervisors has proved he can balance a budget and run a government debt-free even with limited resources.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Backs Julio Perez for Assembly
Liberal OC
Labor activist and AD-69 candidate Julio Perez continues to rack of quality endorsements in his race for Assembly.  The following release came in from the Julio Perez for Assembly campaign. Saying he has the courage and intelligence to stand up to the special interests, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced his backing of Julio Perez for the California State Assembly. “Julio has the courage and intelligence to stand up to the special interests. He ‘s the kind of leader we need in Sacramento to keep the Legislature focused on creating jobs and protecting consumers,” said Jones, who was named “Consumer Champion” by the California Consumer Federation in 2008 for his work in the Assembly.

Huffman has a record of getting things done
I was disappointed to read Sylvia De Rooy's My Word (Feb. 9) supporting Norman Solomon for Congress, which contains numerous false allegations concerning Jared Huffman's legislative record. De Rooy is not only perpetuating the negative and divisive tone that is ruining politics, but her attacks are also factually inaccurate. For example, De Rooy asserts that 28 of Huffman's 30 environmental bills were failures because they were “chaptered,” which she interprets to mean they are in political “limbo.” She clearly does not understand the legislative process. “Chaptered” means that they were enacted into California law!

SEIU California Endorses Hahn and Richardson in 44th Congressional District         
SEIU California
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California today announced endorsing Rep. Janice Hahn and Rep. Laura Richardson in the newly redrawn 44th congressional district. SEIU California’s endorsements are made in a town hall process in which members evaluate candidates’ policy positions, listen to them speak, interview them, and then make their decisions. The town halls are open to all members in each district. Hahn and Richardson are both champions for working families and current members of Congress.

Victoria Rusnak to run in 41st state Assembly race
Whittier Daily News
Victoria Rusnak, president and chief counsel of the Rusnak car dealership, has thrown her hat in the ring for the 41st state Assembly race. Rusnak, who filed papers to run last week, said her campaign will focus on business growth and expanding educational opportunities for residents in the 41st state Assembly District, which stretches from Pasadena to Rancho Cucamonga and includes Monrovia, San Dimas and Claremont. "As a business person I want to offer some alternatives to what we are hearing in Sacramento, focusing on the economy, education and the environment," Rusnak said.

Candidates in South Bay district court newly important centrist voters
The Los Angeles Times
Lots of candidates need a Rob Katherman this year. He was a Democrat. Then he was a Republican. Now he's unattached. The South Bay area he lives in, bordered by sparkling ocean on the west and gritty manufacturing sites on the east, is much the same. Voters here have toggled for decades across the political divide. Such swing districts and Californians like Katherman — who sits smack in the political center — are exactly what reformers had in mind when they pushed in recent years to change state elections.

GOP unknowns jockey for chance to take on Dianne Feinstein
The Sacramento Bee
Rival GOP presidential campaigns weren't the only ones trying to shore up support at this weekend's California Republican Party convention. A handful of could-be challengers to U.S. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein stormed the gathering with campaign signs, volunteers and speeches at caucus meetings. Elizabeth Emken, Dan Hughes, Al Ramirez and Greg Conlon aren't exactly household names – even among Republican activists at the convention. Party leaders' efforts to recruit a so-called "top tier" challenger, such as a sitting member of Congress or someone with personal wealth to pour into a campaign, were unsuccessful.

Filing period under way in Yuba-Sutter for June 5 primary
Appeal Democrat
Though a lengthy list of names has already formed, election season begins to ramp up over the next few weeks with the formal period to declare candidacies being contested on June 5. In both Sutter and Yuba counties, the filing period began Feb. 13 and goes through March 9, though many candidates already signaled their intention to run by filing in-lieu petitions earlier this year to avoid paying filing fees. For Sutter County, the contested races are districts 1, 4 and 5 on the Board of Supervisors and seats on the central committee for registered political parties.

Two well-known candidates to vie for supervisor in Yolo County
The Sacramento Bee
A race for Yolo County supervisor pits the charismatic mayor of Woodland against a successful farmer and champion of rural values. Mayor Art Pimentel's effort to oust two-term Supervisor Duane Chamberlain for the county's 5th District got a big boost from a controversial redistricting plan enacted in September. Against the protests of rural residents, it shifted the boundaries of the county's traditional farming district so that 70 percent of 5th District residents now reside in the city of Woodland. Before, only 40 percent of district residents lived in Woodland.

Anthony T. Adams Statement Announcing Candidacy for the 8th Congressional District
Market Watch
Former Assemblymember Anthony T. Adams released the following statement regarding his bid for California's 8th Congressional District. Adams stated, "I am announcing my candidacy for the newly created 8th Congressional District. "I will be running as a candidate with No Party Preference. "The citizens of this District are fed up with the partisan bickering that has deadlocked Congress. I saw a survey recently that showed that the company responsible for the Gulf Oil Spill has an approval rating of 18% of the American Public. This same survey said that the United States Congress' approval rating was 9%.