We Sorta Liked It Then, But We Hate It Now

That's essentially the California Republican Party's reaction to the release of the final maps that will control electoral districts for the next decade.

We sorta liked it then, but we hate it now.

That is pretty much the reaction of the California Republican Party to the release of the final maps that will control electoral districts for the next 10 years.

When voters approved Proposition 11 in November 2008, they saw it as a chance to end, or at least drastically curtail, the influence of partisan politics in shaping the State Assembly, Senate and federal Congressional elections.

It took the redistricting process out of the hands of politicians and gave it to a 14-member, independent commission called the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

The final maps were released Monday–and Republicans are howling. They’re talking about going to court to block the implementation of the maps, and they’re talking about another referendum to overturn the voters’ decision.

If they do go to court, it won’t be a long process. The law provides that all such actions go directly to the California Supreme Court; no lower court battles along the way.

In that possible action, the conservative Republicans might find themselves with very strange bedfellows–MALDEF–the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

MALDEF is all atwitter because the new maps don’t appear to carve out majority Hispanic districts, as they’d hoped.

Well, no kidding.

It is just that sort of gerrymandering the Commission was established to do away with.

Here in Santee, our current elected officeholders–Republicans all–appear to be safe.

Senator Joel Anderson will be losing some current territory, including Alpine, where he lives. He’ll have to move, or at least establish a legal residence within the boundaries of the new 36th District.

Assemblyman Brian Jones still gets to live in Santee.

Congressman Duncan Hunter will see some of his district move northerly–not so far eastward–and still be pretty much solid Republican country.

But a lot of politicians, both locally and statewide, might have big trouble on the horizon.

Brian Bilbray is just one of many.

He’s losing a lot of solid Republican votes inland, while picking up a lot of traditional Democrat territory as he moves more to the coast.

And there is the 900-pound gorilla waiting in the wings for all current officeholders: That would be Proposition 14, approved by the voters in June 2010.

Remember that one? It’s the open primary law.

That means the top two voters in any primary advance to the general election, even if they are both Democrats or both Republicans.

There are many districts currently occupied by Republicans that are very close–very close–to an even split registration-wise.

If only two Republican senators lose, it would give both houses of the Legislature to the Democrats–and possibly finish Republicans as a major factor in California politics.

They are very nearly there already.

Democrats would be able to pass a budget, raise taxes, enact new laws. And all Republicans could do is wring their hands and say “What about us?”

A valid question–and one Republicans would do anything to avoid hearing the answer to.


Richard Winger August 17, 2011 at 01:23 AM
This article would be better if it referred to Prop. 14 as the top-two system, not an open primary. "Open primary" has been defined for over 100 years as a system in which each party has its own primary and its own nominees, but on primary day any voter is free to choose any party's primary ballot. By contrast, Prop. 14 abolishes party nominees. It is not good writing to use the same term for two different things. 21 states have open primaries, but only California, Washington and Louisiana have top-two systems.
Doug Curlee August 17, 2011 at 02:16 AM
richard.. call it what you will.. the net effect is the same..and prop. 14 does NOT abolish party nominees.. it simply no longer guarantees that there will be a republican and a democrat fighting it out.. could be two dems, two repubs.. the top two, no matter who they are partywise.... doug
Bryceson Cabading August 17, 2011 at 03:36 AM
Republicans sharing the floor with MALDEF would be the funniest thing ever. But on topic, would one of you care to explain to me why we are changing up the electoral districts in the first place? I heard a few explanations but they didn't seem credible.
Doug Curlee August 17, 2011 at 03:37 PM
bryceson.. we're changing them because federal law requires redistricting every ten years, in the wake of the nattional census.. it's generally seen as a way to make sure there's equal representation for all..people move around, populations grow and shrink in areas..it's to keep the congressional districts, as well as the state districts, as balanced as possible..so that one congressmember doesn't end up with 2 million constituents, and another winds up with 200.. doug
Bob Richard August 17, 2011 at 06:40 PM
Doug, actually, Prop. 14 does eliminate party nominees. This is not just a matter of verbiage. The party labels that appear on the ballot are there by the candidate's choice, not the party's choice. Whatever else that is, it is (1) confusing to voters, and (2) not a party nomination.
Bob Richard August 17, 2011 at 06:46 PM
This isn't the first time, Bryceson. Republicans have benefited, as a side effect, from the creation majority-minority districts all over the South for quite a while. Some political scientists believe that the Voting Rights Act has, on balance, worked against the policies favored by most members of minority groups even while it has gotten more of them elected to office. This is inherent in the math of single-member legislative districts. To get the districts dominated by minority group voters, you "pack" more Democrats into fewer districts, leaving more districts under Republican control. There's a much better way to insure minority group representation -- proportional representation using multi-member districts.
Doug Curlee August 17, 2011 at 06:48 PM
bob.. if a candidate is nominated by a party, and the party is going to support him or her in the election process, do you think the candidates will NOT put their party affiliation on the ballot? you can bet the party affiliation will be there in the biggest, brightest letters the registrar of voters will allow.. and i thnk you know that as well as i do.. doug
Phil Connor August 17, 2011 at 10:15 PM
I think that the net effect of Prop. 14 will be that Republicans will run stealth candidates in heavy Democratic districts. Enormous sums will be spent in a handful of races just as before in order for the Reps to keep a blocking minority in the State Assembly and Senate. The greatest impact will be in the congressional delegation where up to 3 more Dems will be elected. Back to the surfboard Brian. Start looking for a new pier to rescue.
Doug Curlee August 17, 2011 at 10:18 PM
phil..don't think that'll work..the community of those actually interested in running for political office around here is a small one..and all the pros, democrat and republican, who who all the other folks are.. there are really no secrets.. anyone trying to run as a "stealth" candidate would be publicly outed so fast they wouldn't know what hit them.. doug


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