New California Lines Create Upheaval

June 13, 2011

By Kyle Trygstad, Roll Call

California Members got their first look at a proposed new Congressional map on Friday, and early analyses showed Democrats will likely benefit from the new lines.

Reps. Howard Berman (D), Brad Sherman (D) and David Dreier (R) are just three of the incumbents most affected under the first draft of the new map released by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.
The commissioners said, however, when approving the map that it is only a rough draft and will change several times before being finalized on Aug. 15.

The map shows Democrats gaining an advantage in more Congressional districts than they currently hold. One analysis by Democratic redistricting expert Paul Mitchell found that 37 districts favor Democrats, including five he said leaned Democratic, and 16 districts favor Republicans, including three that lean to the GOP. Democrats currently hold a 34-19 advantage in the delegation.

“It certainly foreshadows big change in the delegation,” said Douglas Johnson, a redistricting expert and fellow at the Rose Institute.

Johnson concurred that the plan “leans a little Democratic,” but there are some Voting Rights Act issues that he said could even out the political balance once they are fixed.

Johnson said Latinos in East Los Angeles lost a seat under this plan. Latino leaders denounced the map for reducing the number of majority-Latino districts despite the fact that they account for most of the state’s population increase.

On Twitter, Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, called it the “worst case scenario for #Latinos.”

The Republican likely hurt the most is Dreier, whose San Gabriel Valley district would become heavily Democratic under the proposed lines. His new district would have a 51 percent Latino citizen voting age population and President Barack Obama would have carried it by 28 points, according to Mitchell’s breakdown of the map.

Several Members’ residences have been moved into single districts, including one in the Central Valley that includes the homes of Reps. Jeff Denham (R), Dennis Cardoza (D) and Jim Costa (D).

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