Roll Call: "Between the
Lines (excerpt)." July 23, 2001
Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." July 16,
San Diego Union-Tribune: "Battle lines are
drawn as redistricting begins." May 21,
Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." May 14, 2001
Ventura County Star: "Drawing county's
lines critical-Redistricting." April 22, 2001
Los Angeles Times:
"Redistricting Defanged by Energy Crisis." April 22,
The San Francisco Chronicle:
"Contra Costa to
redraw supervisorial districts." April 21, 2001
Ventura County Star: "Democrats Assess Redistricting." April
The Daily News of Los
Angeles: "Congress Members
Fret Over Districts." April 1, 2001
Los Angeles Times:
"Parties Rush to Overhaul Political
Map." March 31, 2001
Los Angeles Times (Home Edition): "California
to Gain Only
One Congressional Seat." February 26, 2001
PRNewswire: "Study Shows Minorities in
California Lost Political Representation When Corrected Census Data Was
Not Released." January 18, 2001
More recent redistricting news
More redistricting news from
California from July 25, 2001-August 19, 2001
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
July 23, 2001
Down in the Valley.
Hoping to capitalize on Hispanic
population gains throughout California in the 1990s, two prominent
Hispanic groups last week urged the Golden State to draw a new House
district into the San Joaquin Valley that would help elect another Latino
The groups also want to amass large Hispanic bases in
the Long Beach-based district of Rep. Steve Horn (R), who is widely viewed
as one of the Democrats' top redistricting targets, and the Palm
Springs-based district of Rep. Mary Bono (R).
Hispanic population soared by 43 percent in the 1990s. California's 11
million Hispanics now make up 31 percent of its population.
groups - the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the
William C. Velasquez Institute - want to create a new district that would
include most of Tulare County and the city of Fresno in the
agriculture-rich Central Valley.
Those areas are currently
represented by Reps. Cal Dooley (D), Bill Thomas (R) and George Radanovich
(R). The region falls just south of the Modesto-based district of Rep.
Gary Condit (D), whose political and legal woes are sure to be a major
issue for Democrats who control the state's remapping
California's 53rd district will come as a result of the
fact that the state gained one House seat in reapportionment.
San Joaquin Valley is growing dramatically, and a Tulare County seat made
good sense," said Antonio Gonzalez, president of the institute. "This area
has been historically divided for no good reason. There are no state
Assembly members or Congress people who are from Tulare
The new district would be nearly 47 percent
Horn's 38th district would also change dramatically under
the groups' plan. The 38th would shift the primarily Hispanic cities of
Huntington Park, Cudahy, South Gate, Lynwood, Paramount, Bellflower and
parts of other nearby cities into one district.
The new district
would be about 69 percent Hispanic. Horn won a fifth term last November by
just 1 point - by far his closest re-election margin.
The plan for
Bono's 44th district would join Imperial County with parts of Riverside
County "to unite Latino communities that have been divided" in the
southeast part of the state, Gonzalez said. That district would be nearly
50 percent Hispanic.
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio
July 16, 2001
The official line among
California Democrats last week was that "no one's really thinking about"
how Rep. Gary Condit's (D-Calif.) woes will affect redistricting in the
nation's most-populous state.
"Don't believe that, not for a
second. It's all we're thinking about. It's all we're talking about," said
a top state Democratic official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Indeed, few House Members could have a more significant impact on
redistricting in California than Condit, whose Central Valley 18th
district is ripe for a GOP takeover (President Bush carried it by 9
points) and borders two Democratic-held districts desperately in need of
help from party leaders, who control the state's
Specifically, sources say, Democrats were debating how to
shore up Condit, who won a sixth full term last year with 67 percent well
before most people had even heard of missing 24-year-old intern Chandra
Levy, while bolstering nearby Democratic Reps. Ellen Tauscher and Cal
Dooley, who recently have faced competitive challengers. Other sources
said party leaders are also preparing for Condit's possible resignation,
which would allow them greater flexibility in the remap. Condit has said
he plans to run for re-election.
Democrats also said they would
like to target Rep. Richard Pombo (R), who represents a potential swing
seat that borders Condit's to the north.
and some Democrats, have floated names of potential successors to Condit,
either for a special election in the current district or in its new
configuration in 2002.
State Republicans focused mostly on
term-limited state Sen. Dick Monteith, who said he would run for Congress
if Condit does not seek another term.
Democratic prospects included
former Rep. Richard Lehman, an ally of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.),
state Sen. Jim Costa and former state Assemblyman Rusty Areias.
Another possible Democratic candidate is state Assemblyman Dennis
Cardoza, but Cardoza could be hindered by his own resume - he once worked
for Condit as his special assistant for local government
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom
Davis (Va.) said Republicans would target the district, but only if Condit
is not on the ballot.
"The 18th district is a district that is
trending more Republican with every election. If the seat were to become
vacant, it would be a huge battleground," Davis said, adding that the NRCC
has not conducted a poll there since Condit's troubles began.
lines are drawn as redistricting begins
It seemed an innocuous enough suggestion:
Why not create just one congressional district that covers California's
entire border with Mexico? That way, the representative in that district
could devote more attention to the region's distinctive issue.
That was the case argued by former Assemblywoman Denise Moreno Ducheny,
San Diego City Councilman Ralph Inzunza Jr. and others in San Diego at a
recent hearing on redistricting.
The suggestion was calmly taken under advisement by the state
legislators considering how to redraw the boundaries of California's
legislative and congressional districts to reflect population shifts
identified by the 2000 census.
But upon hearing of the idea, Bob Filner, D-San Diego, one of three
House members from California whose districts touch the border, hotly
denounced it as a "ridiculous proposal."
"If you want to help the border, you want to have as many people as
possible representing it, because the problem in Congress is nobody
understands the border," he said.
Such conflicting philosophies of representation are argued every 10
years when electoral districts at all levels are reconfigured to meet the
constitutional mandate that they be as equal in population as is
Redistricting may seem an arcane exercise in cartography, but it
inevitably turns into political hand-to-hand combat.
The proposed "border district" is a classic example. There may be
good-government cases to be made on both sides, but they quickly become
subjugated to the colliding ambitions and ill-concealed mutual dislike of
two otherwise like-minded South Bay Democratic political figures -- Filner
and Assemblyman Juan Vargas, D-San Diego.
Vargas twice has run unsuccessfully against Filner, perhaps on the
mistaken calculation that the South Bay's growing Latino population would
tip the 50th District in his favor. Would Vargas' congressional prospects
be enhanced if the district were redrawn to add overwhelmingly Latino
Imperial County to the mix?
"Clearly, this is an attempt by Vargas to undercut me, I assume," said
Filner. "What he's really doing is undercutting the constituents and
undercutting the border. I'll run in any district they give me, but this
is really a stupid idea."
Vargas said Filner has been aggressively lobbying legislative Democrats
to leave his south San Diego County district alone. "As one person up here
said, 'That ugly guy seems to have one person in mind, himself, in this
whole process,' " Vargas said.
"I think he is just one of the most selfish politicians I've ever met,
and that's sad," Vargas added.
Combat or compromise?
The decennial battle over redistricting typically involves
legislators wrangling behind closed doors for months. Allies become
enemies. The minority party wails that it is being done in by a greedy
majority. Citizens groups complain their interests are being ignored. And,
more often than not, everybody winds up in court.
"It is a process that brings out the worst in almost everybody," said
Thomas Hofeller, redistricting director for the Republican National
This year, California legislative committees are at least beginning the
work of reconfiguring congressional, legislative and Board of Equalization
districts amid uplifting talk of openness, compromise and conciliation.
"I think it's very possible to think we can achieve a bipartisan
redistricting," said Assemblyman Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield, vice chairman
of the Assembly Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments
Committee. "It takes openness and willingness to compromise."
Academic observers of past redistricting wars dismiss such talk as
"I can never in my life believe that reapportionment will be
bloodless," said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst at the
University of Southern California. "The culture argues against it. The
politics argues against it. History argues against it."
Even so, a combination of political forces, notably term limits and big
Democratic gains in recent elections, could combine to make the redrawing
of legislative districts a much less contentious process than usual. At
the same time, these and other dynamics could set the stage for all-out
war over congressional districts.
Democrats have such commanding majorities in both houses of
the Legislature -- 26 to 14 in the Senate, 50 to 30 in the Assembly --
that there is not much more to gain.
"The voters of California have in the last two elections very strongly
leaned toward the Democratic Party and put both houses of the Legislature
in strong Democratic control," said Assemblyman John Longville, D-San
Bernardino, who is directing the redistricting effort in the lower house.
"It is at the point where it is of questionable value to try to expand on
those majorities. There is a point of diminishing returns."
With some creative line-drawing, Democrats conceivably could pad their
majorities by a few seats. But to do so would involve weakening safe seats
by shifting strong Democratic precincts into more marginal districts.
That, Longville said, could come back to haunt Democrats if the partisan
"Not through any altruism on my part or the leadership of the party in
general, but purely through self-interest I believe a reasonable and fair
redistricting is the way to go," he said.
Nationally, it's quite another matter. Democrats desperately want to
erase the GOP's five-seat majority in the U.S. House and are looking to
California for help.
"The House is so close to being in Democratic hands that I think
there'll be some real skirmishing there," said Darry Sragow, who oversees
Democratic Assembly campaigns.
Term limits also are scrambling the conventional redistricting
calculations because all the state's legislators are now short-timers. As
such, many have much less interest in how their own districts are redrawn
than in how overlapping congressional districts are configured.
"Everything is in play now," said Kam Kuwata, consultant to the
Assembly committee. "Twenty years ago, people might have been looking just
at their own Assembly seats. Now, people are looking at a lot of different
options for furthering their careers."
And as the Filner-Vargas feud attests, this phenomenon is as likely to
create conflict within the parties as between them.
"Just as a civil war can often be the nastiest, the fight among
Democrats or among Republicans can be particularly harsh," said Jack
Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.
Tim Hodson, director of the Center for California Studies at California
State University Sacramento, said last year's election of Democrat Hilda
Solis of Rosemead to Congress should send the message to House members
that term limits have forever altered their comfortable political world.
Solis, a state senator facing term limits, concluded that her best shot
at extending her career lay in taking on an incumbent Democratic House
member, Matthew Martinez, in the primary. She won easily.
"The idea that a sitting legislator decided to challenge a House member
of the same party has not sunk in," said Hodson, a former state Senate
The big dark cloud
Then there's California's electricity crisis, which has
overwhelmed all other issues in Sacramento.
"This whole energy issue is a very dark cloud hanging over the
Capitol," said Republican political consultant Ray McNally. "Anybody in
elective office right now is becoming increasingly nervous. I don't think
anybody has the stomach to go through some double-barreled reapportionment
Gov. Gray Davis has had little to say publicly on reapportionment, but
it's widely believed he does not want another fight while he's trying to
forge a bipartisan energy solution.
In addition, Davis needs two-thirds legislative votes to pass a budget,
a fact that gives badly outnumbered Republicans what little leverage they
"Davis does not want a budget battle," said Allan Hoffenblum, publisher
of the nonpartisan Target Book, which tracks California congressional and
"If Republicans think they are getting (a bad deal) on reapportionment,
I think they would do a scorched-earth policy and refuse to deliver any
votes. And that would cause headaches that the governor just does not need
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio
May 14, 2001
Rep. Jerry Lewis Lewis (R-Calif.) abruptly resigned Thursday as head of
the state's GOP House delegation, sources said, following a series of
flare-ups over how Republicans should deal with the state's
Democratic-controlled redistricting process.
Lewis announced his resignation to colleagues Wednesday following a
number of heated closed-door meetings, during which several sources said
Rep. Bill Thomas (R) had sought to take the lead on plotting their party's
remap strategy. The delegation had informally assigned GOP Rep. Gary
Miller to be its point man on the issue.
"There was a fairly strong disagreement between those folks over who
ought to be saying what. There's been some tension over who should be our
spokesman," said Lewis spokesman Jim Specht. "It caused him to realize
that he was tired of being in the middle. He felt it was time for someone
else to make the effort to pull everyone together."
Thomas, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has some background
in redistricting. In 1999, he co-sponsored an unsuccessful effort to place
a voter initiative on the 2000 ballot that would have shifted control of
redistricting from the state Legislature to the courts.
Nonetheless, sources said, Members chose Miller to handle the prickly
issue within the delegation because he is viewed as a more agreeable
Nearly two years ago, Thomas berated then-Republican National Committee
Chairman Jim Nicholson for refusing to endorse or help finance his
redistricting plan for California. The House Member's comments so
infuriated Nicholson that the RNC chairman fired off a nasty letter to
Thomas and forwarded a copy to his leadership superiors.
The most recent skirmish took place earlier this month at a state GOP
meeting near Los Angeles. At the meeting, Thomas, armed with a letter from
Lewis, demanded that officials give him the floor and overrule a Miller
aide who sought to speak on redistricting. State GOP Chairman Sean Steele,
a Thomas rival, reluctantly let Thomas speak, angering the Miller aide.
Several GOP sources said Lewis' frustration reached its breaking point
Monday when a visibly angry Miller confronted Lewis on the House floor to
discuss the incident and ask why he had authorized Thomas to speak for the
delegation on redistricting.
House Republicans plan to meet Thursday to consider
selecting a new chairman. Sources said Rep. David Dreier ranks as a
Ventura County Star
Drawing county's new lines critical-Redistricting: Shared
thinking of county and ad hoc committee could prove beneficial.
April 22, 2001
It only happens once every 10
years, but over the next few months it will be one of county government's
more important exercises -- trying to figure out who belongs to the
county's five supervisorial districts. For example, should District 4
Supervisor Judy Mikels, who has butted heads with residents of the Las
Posas Valley in recent months, retain control of the Somis area, which
old-timers have long maintained has stronger ties to nearby Camarillo than
to nearby Moorpark? Should District 2 Supervisor Frank Schillo retain
control of Port Hueneme, and the county's valuable deep-sea harbor, when
common-sense geography suggests the port might better belong under the
umbrella of District 5 Supervisor John Flynn, whose district is already
the county's largest? Should the city of Ojai, which former Supervisor
Maggie Kildee once said "will always be part of this district as long as
I'm supervisor," remain with current District 3 Supervisor Kathy Long,
when some have suggested it would make more sense for Ojai to join the
rest of the Ojai Valley under District 1 Supervisor Steve Bennett?
Those scenarios might be among many to be discussed as Chief
Administrative Officer Johnny Johnston and staff wade through the various
factors that will determine the face of Ventura County's elections for the
next decade, starting with an important primary next March. By law,
supervisorial districts are measured by the number of people in each
district, with a goal of equality in numbers. In other words, the county's
nearly 754,000 population needs to be divided into five parts -- 150,639
each. Historically, numbers have been the key redistricting element.
Demographic and geographic considerations have routinely been secondary.
That being the case, from a pure numbers standpoint there's considerable
work to be done. -- District 1, which includes Ventura, the Ojai Valley
and a pocket of Oxnard, is the smallest district at 139,828 -- 7 percent
below the goal. --District 2, which includes Thousand Oaks, Westlake
Village, half of Newbury Park, part of south Oxnard and Port Hueneme, is 3
percent above the goal at 155,077. --EDistrict 3, which includes the other
half of Newbury Park, Camarillo, Fillmore, Santa Paula, Piru, Lockwood
Valley, the Rincon -- and Ojai -- has 146,984 people, 2 percent below.
--EDistrict 4, which covers Simi Valley, Moorpark and Somis, has 152,269,
1 percent above. -- District 5, which includes most of Oxnard, the
county's largest city, and El Rio, has 159,030 -- 6 percent above.
How all of those numbers fit for the overall benefit of county
residents rests in the hands of Mr. Johnston, who said last week he will
present supervisors with several options, including ones that factor in
demographic and geographic considerations. That's good. But the county can
also receive important support in its efforts from the Ventura County
Redistricting Task Force, a 15-member ad hoc committee that's reviewing
boundary lines as they relate at the local, state and national levels.
That group, says task force co-chairman Karl Lawson of Oxnard, is studying
census and demographic information that he hopes will "encourage decision
makers to take an active role in finding out what is meant by communities
of interest." Mr. Lawson points out that since 1990, "There have been a
whole series of court decisions that have altered the rules for how lines
are drawn so that they are drawn today to meet what the court calls
communities of interest. "Our committee wants to encourage the decision
makers to take an active role to find out what is meant by communities of
interest." Mr. Lawson says a number of factors -- not racial or ethnic --
need to be considered, commonalities, for example, that might include
schools, economics, where people work, shop and play, voting patterns and
the like. Those points, we concur, will be critical to consider, and we're
hopeful Mr. Johnston and county demographer Steve Wood will work closely
with the Redistricting Task Force for a sharing of information that could
prove valuable in the process. Because, given that this opportunity to
make the county's supervisorial districts the best balanced and most
meaningful only happens once every 10 years, making sure the results
benefit the greatest number of residents possible is absolutely the most
Los Angeles Times
Defanged by Energy Crisis; Democrats and Republicans May Actually Get
by Susan F. Rasky
April 22, 2001
If it weren't
for the energy crisis, which is rapidly becoming a budget crisis, the
subject consuming Sacramento about now would be redistricting.
Redistricting season opened officially late last month, when the U.S.
Census Bureau released the detailed population figures the Legislature
will use to redraw district lines for its members and for members of the
California congressional delegation. No process in government is more
nakedly or purposefully political. The U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps
inadvertently, underscored that point last week in its decision on a
long-disputed congressional district in North Carolina. In effect, the
court ruled that state legislatures can gerrymander to their hearts'
content as long as the purpose is to enhance partisan advantage rather
than solely to boost the chances for election of candidates from a
particular race or ethnicity. The party with enough votes to decide where
the new political lines go can determine the partisan makeup of the
Legislature and the House of Representatives not only for the next
election, but for the next decade.
That's why the stakes were so
high in the 1998 gubernatorial race and in last year's legislative
elections. Gray Davis' gubernatorial victory and Democratic gains in both
election cycles make California one of 21 states in the country in which
both the legislature and the governorship are controlled by the same
party, and one of only eight states where that party is Democratic. But
the sweet visions of a partisan gerrymander that danced in the heads of
Sacramento Democrats for 18 months, and the various schemes for revenge by
ballot initiative or court challenge that comforted Sacramento
Republicans, have given way to a new, shared nightmare: What if voters
angry over skyrocketing energy prices, rolling blackouts and now the
threat of higher taxes or budget cuts in popular programs decide to throw
the bums out in 2002? And not just the Democratic bums who are supposed to
be in charge of the Legislature, but the Republican bums who supported
energy deregulation in the mid-'90s? Nothing concentrates the political
mind like the prospect of involuntary retirement.
The energy mess
is opening the way for a very different kind of gerrymander than anyone in
or out of Sacramento expected. As one leading Republican on the elections
and reapportionment committee put it, "Given the uncertainty about Gray
Davis' strength, and given the uncertainty about blackouts next year, the
Democratic definition of a safe seat changes." Consider the current
situation in the state capital. Davis may be bearing the brunt of media
scorn and voter anger for not delivering on his vows to hold electricity
prices down, ensure adequate power supplies or punish energy producers
that have manipulated the markets. But the Legislature hasn't got much to
show either for a four-month "emergency" session that has produced exactly
one new conservation law--two if you count the technical correction of the
first one--and a series of measures granting the governor authority to
engage in energy-supply purchases that now appear to be costing millions
of dollars more than anyone anticipated and eating away the budget
surplus. Before the phrase "average cost of a kilowatt hour" entered the
political vocabulary, this year's assorted redistricting scenarios shared
a few common themes. First, a presumption that Democrats would re-carve
the congressional districts artfully enough to shore up swing seats, like
those of Reps. Ellen O. Tauscher in the Bay Area, Lois Capps in Santa
Barbara and Jane Harman of Rolling Hills. Second, that the essentially
Democratic district in Long Beach now represented by moderate Republican
Rep. Steve Horn would be redrawn to assure Democratic victory, or more
likely collapsed and parceled out to best suit other Democratic needs.
Third, that California's new 53rd congressional district would be lodged
somewhere in San Bernardino or Riverside and would, however it was
configured, result in a net gain to Democrats, who dominate the current
congressional delegation 32 to 20.
In the state Assembly and
Senate, where Democrats are shy by only a few seats in each chamber of the
two-thirds majorities, the decision about where and how to rearrange the
map was essentially a calculation about greed. That super-majority is
attractive, because it is both veto-proof and sufficient to pass the
budget and other important bills--including redistricting plans--without
any need for Republican votes. On the other hand, how close to the magic
two-thirds number is it worth getting when the governor belongs to the
same party, and how brazenly can existing GOP districts be sliced and
diced when Republican votes are still necessary to approve this year's
redistricting legislation? It all promised to be a delicious political
stew even without considering more subtle and vexing issues like dividing
territory among rival ethnic groups or power contests between north and
south, central valley and coast, urban and rural areas. Those conflicts
don't go away because politicians are worried about getting punished by
voters for the energy mess, but the calibrations all change. "I think
there is an acceptance by all people in leadership that we don't push
partisanship too far," said a Democrat closely involved in redistricting
strategy. "I think the energy argument has some relevance further down the
road, but I don't think the connection between the energy crisis and
redistricting has been looked at very widely yet." Such redistricting
restraint by Democrats and the possibility for genuine cooperation by
outnumbered Republicans strongly suggest we will be looking at something
the academics like to call a bipartisan gerrymander. That has kind of a
nice ring, but is perhaps better thought of as incumbents' protection act.
"A Democrat incumbents' protection act," the GOP lawmakers was quick to
point out, "also means safe Republican seats becoming safer, marginal
Republican seats becoming safer, and there are more swing seats." As
redistricting veterans like to remind mere observers, the most vicious and
important fights are not necessarily partisan. They are intraparty,
between those who hold seats and those who would like to hold them. That
dynamic is particularly complicated in a world of term limits, where the
game is less about protecting your current legislative territory than it
is about securing a safe district in the seat you aspire to: the one in
Congress, which has no term limits.
The heavy bargaining,
arm-twisting and bruised-ego massaging that will be required to divvy up
the congressional spoils will be handled lawmaker to lawmaker and probably
won't occur until late in the summer. Meantime, the preliminaries and the
map drawing are being handled by Michael Berman, a famously reclusive
Democratic political consultant who has been hired both by Senate
President Pro Tem John Burton, to do the Senate redistricting, and by
Democrats in the California congressional delegation, who have chipped in
$ 20,000 each to pay for his services on their behalf. Berman learned his
craft at the knee of Rep. Phillip Burton, the state senator's late brother
and California's great master of the gerrymander. He himself is the
brother of veteran Southern California congressman and former Assemblyman
Howard Berman, one of the beneficiaries of Phil Burton's district-carving
talent. Cozy as all that may be, consultant Berman faces the daunting task
of having to satisfy conflicting interests of three distinct groups:
termed-out or soon-to-be termed-out state legislators with their sights on
Washington; nervous congressional Democrats who want both protection from
ambitious colleagues in Sacramento and safer reelection margins; and
national Democratic leaders who look to California to offset GOP
redistricting gains elsewhere in the country and help Democrats retake
control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The man who had been
expected to be brokering this set of negotiations was Davis, who, at least
publicly, has urged all along that Democrats not overplay their
redistricting hand. Political translation? The governor would be less than
pleased to see fellow Democrats with enough votes to override his veto.
Whether he actually emerges from the energy wars to have a significant
role in how new political maps get drawn is an open question. The smart
money says Davis is still the favorite in the 2002 gubernatorial
elections, because no Republican can tout an energy "solution" that
differs from what the governor has tried. But Sacramento Democrats seem to
be hedging their bets. In that sense, the "bipartisan gerrymander" may say
less about the final shape of the redistricting plan than it does about
belated consciousness raising. Democrats perhaps have figured out that
while they belong to the same party as the governor, they also belong to
the Legislature. And despite the ravages of term limits, that still
happens to be a separate branch of government.
Susan F. Rasky
is senior lecturer in the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley
Contra Costa to redraw supervisorial
districts; Census shows population increases in east county far surpassing
by Jason B. Johnson
April 21, 2001
Contra Costa's 40 percent population explosion in the past decade -- which
far outstripped other parts of the county -- means more political clout
and a new shape to county supervisorial districts. The Board of
Supervisors will begin discussing redistricting on Tuesday, and must
adjust the five supervisors' district boundaries by July 24. The new maps
could result in communities like Bay Point being shifted from the east
county District 5 into Contra Costa's central District 4, which is
centered in Concord. It could also mean increased visibility for
once-overlooked eastern Contra Costa cities. "I'm proud of being in an
area where at one time people wouldn't give a second thought to living in,
and now they're coming in from all parts of the Bay Area to live," said
Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who represents east county.
The newly released 2000 census shows that District 5, which
includes Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Byron and Discovery Bay,
gained 68,796 people since 1990, giving it the largest population growth
in any county. The county's four other districts grew by 7 to 18 percent
over the past decade. Under the 2000 census, each of the county's
districts are supposed to have at least 189,673 residents. After the 1990
census, each district averaged about 160,000 residents. For decades, the
bulk of Contra Costa County's population stretched along its northern
border from Richmond to Pittsburg, and down through Concord and Walnut
Creek. Growth during the 1970s and '80s saw the San Ramon Valley boom, and
the biggest change in this census is in the eastern areas from Antioch to
Brentwood. Redistricting could mean a group of cities like Lafayette,
Moraga and Orinda, which share a common identity and the moniker
Lamorinda, could potentially be split into separate districts. "Certainly,
Lamorinda's preference is to stay as one unit or stay in one supervisorial
district," said Board Chair Gayle Uilkema, who represents District 2,
which encompasses those and other cities.
Uilkema said every
district will have to change to make sure that the population is evenly
divided among supervisors. Because of the growth in east county, the other
districts will all be moving eastward or to the south. "We're all going to
have to shift to compensate," said Uilkema. "It's like the tube of
toothpaste. My district will be pushed in on the west side, and the only
places it can go is to the south and to the east." The booming growth in
the eastern end of the county follows decades of some east county
residents feeling looked down on by their neighbors as smaller and less
important than the larger cities of Concord and Richmond, partly because
their supervisor represented a more sprawling geographical area and partly
because of the region's more blue-collar makeup. Gloria Magleby of the Bay
Point Municipal Advisory Council said her community, formerly known as
West Pittsburg, would be comfortable to remain as part of east county or
move to central Contra Costa. "Bay Point connects to both east county and
to the Concord area also," said Magleby. "Matter of fact, our kids go to
high school in Concord, and stay there." "We are on the verge of some
really great things," Magleby said. "Whoever gets us gets a gem, a jewel."
Growth is the major issue for east county residents, who choose
supervisors, mayors and city council members based on their stand on
extending BART, widening Highway 4, moving the county urban limit line and
bringing jobs to the region. In places like western and central Contra
Costa, there is little room left to build new homes, more businesses and
easier access to BART and those supervisors do not have to worry as much
about demands by their constituents over large new subdivisions or
overburdened streets and highways. Glover said his region's growth could
increase the chances for improving area roads and drawing more businesses.
"Numbers equate to power, or for sure influence," said Glover. "(But) you
have to have the cooperation for the communities to work together."E-mail
Jason B. Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ventura County Star Democrats
by Timm Herdt
April 1, 2001
When House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt stepped to
the speaker's platform at the California Democratic Party convention on
Saturday, he was introduced just as he had been at the national party
convention last summer -- as "the next speaker of the House." It didn't
work out that way then -- Republicans retained control of the House in
November -- but Democrats believe the Census Bureau has just given them
the tools to change Gephardt's job title in 2002. The new population data
will be used to redraw all 435 congressional districts -- nearly
one-eighth of them in California, where a Democratic-controlled
Legislature and Democratic Gov. Gray Davis will reconfigure 52 districts
and create a 53rd from scratch. The key strategic issue they must decide
is how aggressive they want to be. With the defeat of four Republican
incumbents in California last fall, Democrats now hold 32 of the state's
52 congressional seats. Have they reached a saturation point? Rep. Sam
Farr, D-Monterey, said it will be difficult to expand the party's control
of the California delegation. "The voters did the reapportionment
themselves last year," he said. "We don't need to be too greedy."
But the pressure from national party leaders to bring in still
more seats from California will be intense, said Democratic consultant
Mary Hughes of Palo Alto. That is because population shifts have created
new districts in Republican-tilting states such as Arizona and Texas, and
gains in California will be needed to offset potential losses there, she
said. Asked if there is room to gain still more seats in California,
Gephardt said, "We do think we have a chance." Democratic National
Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said redistricting will make next
year's congressional elections the most contested in years. "In 2000,
there were about 25 seats in play," he said. "Next year, I think 100 seats
will be in play." McAuliffe said the national committee has committed
$13.5 million to assist state legislatures, the largest financial
commitment it has ever made to redistricting.
In California, the
national effort to aggressively redraw districts for national partisan
advantage will be compounded by at least two factors: Davis' trademark
caution and the personal political interests of state lawmakers. Sen. Jack
O'Connell, D-San Luis Obispo, said Davis has sent a clear message to
lawmakers: "Don't get too greedy, don't get too creative." Davis does not
want to sign a redistricting bill that appears blatantly partisan, or one
that will be rejected by the courts because of gerrymandered
configurations. There is another wild card in 2001 that did not exist in
decades past: legislative term limits. "Because of term limits, there is
much more interest by legislators in congressional districts," O'Connell
said. "It used to be that was left pretty much to Washington." Assemblyman
Herb Wesson, D-Los Angeles, agreed. "There was a time when people in the
Assembly did not give diddly-squat about even a state Senate district, let
alone a congressional district," Wesson said. "The new people are going to
be much more strategic."
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, said
he believes redistricting could yield as many as three new Democratic
seats in California -- a new seat in the Inland Empire and shifts of
Republican-held seats in Sacramento and Long Beach. Rep. Sam Horn, R-Long
Beach, was narrowly re-elected last fall. "When you lose a seat by 2,000
votes and you control the redistricting and you can't solve that problem,
something's wrong," Sherman said. Sherman and most others interviewed said
they do not believe a new Democratic-dominated district centered around
Oxnard can be created. Oxnard's population of 170,358 represents more than
a quarter of a congressional district, and voter registration in the city
is 54 percent Democratic, 27 percent Republican. That makes it a
Democratic redistricting plum, but there appears to be no way to make a
new district on the Central Coast without threatening Democratic
incumbents Farr of Monterey and Lois Capps of Santa Barbara. "Most people
believe that Oxnard is either going to go to Lois' district or mine," said
Sherman, whose San Fernando Valley-based district includes Thousand Oaks.
Which way it goes, he said, will be determined by how urban districts in
Los Angeles are redrawn. "There is more power in L.A. going out than in
Ventura County going in," Sherman said. -- Timm Herdt's e-mail address is
The Daily News of Los Angeles Congress
Members Fret Over Districts; Reapportionment Could Reshape Communities'
by Bill Hillburg
April 1, 2001
Democrats have the raw power. The Republicans have the raw numbers. But
the final shape of congressional reapportionment is anybody's guess. The
first returns from Census 2000, which will be used by the Democrat-
dominated state Legislature to redraw boundaries and make room for
California's new 53rd District seat in the House of Representatives, show
most Southern California incumbent Republicans with an excess of
constituents and most Democrats below the ideal district population of
630,088. That ideal figure is derived from the state population of 33.9
million divided by 53, the number of House representatives the state will
have based on the 2000 Census. Federal law requires state reapportionment
plans to adhere as closely as possible to the ideal, to provide equal
representation in Congress.
Sources close to the process say that,
even though districts will have to be redrawn statewide, it's a forgone
conclusion that the 53rd District seat will be created somewhere in
Southern California, the epicenter of the state's population growth in the
1990s. Insiders also say that Democratic line-drawers may face two tough
choices when it comes to taking advantage of the GOP's excess numbers.
They can use them to carve out a new Democrat-safe seat in the Southland,
or parcel them out to strengthen existing Democratic districts that are
well below the population average. That second scenario could leave
current districts generally intact and might lead to the creation of a new
district in a major growth region such as the Inland Empire - Riverside
and San Bernardino counties. "I think the new district will be somewhere
in the Inland Empire," said Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Woodland Hills. "There is
a lot of sentiment to move that way. Right now, with the population
growth, Inland Empire House members represent an average of 20 percent
more constituents than the rest of us do. That's not equal
"We have more people in our district than we are
allowed," said Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, who exceeds
the ideal by 60,438 constituents. "I am resigned to the fact that my
district will change. But I hope that the new plan will see to it that
communities of interest like Santa Clarita are kept intact and together."
Those sentiments were echoed by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, who will
also see changes in his district. He has 38,102 constituents fewer than
the new ideal total. "This reapportionment process is still somewhat of a
mystery to me," said Schiff. "And it's a long process that will inevitably
face court challenges. "My preference would be to keep the same areas we
have now and simply grow," Schiff added. "My district has a distinctive
character and many shared concerns. Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena and
surrounding communities also cooperate on a lot of projects like improving
education." Sherman said his fellow Democrats, wherever they live, should
feel comfortable with the reapportionment process. "There will be change,"
he said. "But a Democratic governor and Legislature are going to see to it
that Democratic neighborhoods are put into Democratic districts." He also
noted that the Democrats' two House wins in November - which saw Schiff
beat GOP incumbent James Rogan and Rep. Jane Harman, D-Torrance, ousting
incumbent Steven Kuykendall - may have taken pressure off the party's
"Those two districts were going to be key targets for
reapportionment," said Sherman. "But we achieved our goals at the polls
instead of with a marking pen." Another possible reapportionment scenario,
according to some observers, would involve creating a new district in the
eastern San Fernando Valley. Assemblyman Tony Cardenas, D-Mission Hills,
who is facing term limits, has spoken of the possibility of running for
Congress. Some speculate that such a district could include parts of
McKeon's constituency in Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley. The remap
scheme might also shift Sherman's district west farther into Ventura
County while pitting McKeon and Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Oxnard, in a newly
carved-out GOP district. Gallegly said Democrats would be better served
using excess constituents to shore up incumbents' seats, and said they
should leave his current district alone. "Reapportionment never ceases to
amaze me, but I believe my district should stay intact," said Gallegly.
"It's important to me to continue to represent the specific and important
interests of the people of Ventura County."
Parties Rush to Overhaul Political Map;
Redistricting the Decennial Battle over Legislators' Turf Promises to Be
Even More Troublesome Because of Term Limits and Shifts in Ethnic
Miguel Bustillo and Nicholas Riccardi
Now that the numbers are out, the jockeying begins. The
release of the 2000 census data officially inaugurates redistricting
season--a mad scramble by political parties and pressure groups to carve
up California to suit their needs. The state's population grew more slowly
than it has in decades, meaning that there will be only one additional
congressional seat in California--the smallest gain in 80 years--to
accommodate an increasingly diverse array of interests. Democrats, who are
firmly in control of the statehouse and therefore of the redrawing of
California's political map, will have to decide how aggressively they want
to act to increase their power in Sacramento and Washington. In the past,
the party in power has resorted to tactics such as collapsing two
districts held by the opposing party into one, forcing popular incumbents
to run against each other. In Los Angeles, the school board, county Board
of Supervisors and City Council could all be rejiggered to represent
shifts in population favoring increasingly Latino and Asian neighborhoods.
Similarly, Orange County has seen largely white communities
transformed by large influxes of Asians and Latinos, potentially setting
the stage for political changes to come in that long-standing bastion of
the Republican Party. Each of those possibilities is freighted with
potentially weighty ethnic and political implications, however, as one
group's gain often comes at another's expense. The Assembly and state
Senate must complete redistricting by September. For the first time, the
census data are available online to anyone with a computer, and the
Legislature is drawing up plans for the required public hearings. But much
of the work will be done behind closed doors, as experts in the arcane art
of reapportionment scramble the state's political map. "What we have is a
situation where we have to figure out 53 sets of lines for the House, 40
for the Senate and 80 for the Assembly," said veteran Democratic political
operative Kam Kuwata, who has been hired as a redistricting consultant for
the lower house. "There is a degree to which you have to tear it all apart
before you can rebuild it."
The two biggest factors, analysts
agree, will be term limits and California's new designation as a state
without a racial majority. During the last redistricting, in 1991, term
limits had just been approved by voters and the impact was still several
years off. But now many of the legislators redrawing district lines will
be forced from office and may be looking ahead to their next elected
position--which could influence how they redraw political boundaries.
Assemblyman Bill Leonard (R-San Bernardino), one of the few Sacramento
legislators who was around for the prior redistricting fight, predicts
that term limits will place this one in the record books. "I always
thought it was vicious before, but this is going to make the past wars
look like the WWF," he said. "For the first time, senators will be looking
at the Assembly plans, Assembly members will be looking even more at the
Senate plans, and both will be looking at the congressional plans. The
people in Washington will be looking at Sacramento with fear."
state's complex racial breakdown makes this redistricting round
potentially even more dizzying. "The significant changes in California's
population increase competition among minorities for political power, and
how the lines are drawn are going to have an impact on that," said Allan
Hoffenblum, a GOP political consultant and publisher of the Target Book, a
district-by-district guide to state races. "There will be more ethnic
tensions this reapportionment than probably we've ever seen before."
Sizing up the new census numbers, some experts come to the opposite
conclusion. Some hope that divvying up the state between an increasing
number of racial groups could be more harmonious than expected. "People
are going to have to play a new role here, because no one group is going
to be able to dictate what happens," said Geraldine Washington, president
of the Los Angeles branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of
Colored People. "We don't have any majorities here."
found that Asians are the fastest-growing ethnic group in California.
Nancy Yu, a research associate with the Asian Pacific Islander Legal
Center in Los Angeles, said the main focus of her group will be "with the
increasing ethnic diversity in California, creating districts in all
communities." The most significant political force in the redistricting
game may be the growing number of Latino politicians who are
well-positioned to expand their ranks, possibly by capturing districts
that long have been represented by whites or blacks. Latinos hold six of
California's 52 House seats, 20 of 80 Assembly seats, and seven of 40
state Senate seats. But according to the newest census data, they
represent 29% to 32% of the state's population. "Therefore, no, we don't
have direct representation," said Amadis Velez, California redistricting
coordinator for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Velez would not go as far as to say he expects the new congressional seat
to be drawn for Latinos, but did add: "We don't think right now the way
the landscape lies offers full and fair representation for Latinos."
Many of the areas in which the Latino population has burgeoned
have been traditionally represented by black or white leaders. In the
black political community, which struggled for decades to elect African
Americans to state and federal office, there has been audible concern
about seeing political power diluted by demographic shifts, such as could
happen in the 37th Congressional District in southern Los Angeles County.
There, Democratic congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, who is black,
represents increasingly Latino neighborhoods in Compton, Wilmington and
north Long Beach. Her district, which was 34% black in 1990, has been
inundated with new Latino residents. Similar trends are at work in some of
Los Angeles' traditionally African American City Council seats. Latino
groups say they do not want to increase their political clout at the
expense of other minorities. "I think what you're going to see with
Latinos and African Americans is an attempt to work together to make a
win-win for both communities," said Alan Clayton, a redistricting expert
with the County Chicano Employees Association.
Democrats do not hold all
the cards, even though they control both houses in Sacramento. Any
reapportionment plan needs a two-thirds vote to ensure that it cannot be
challenged in a referendum. It will require GOP votes to reach that mark,
as it will to garner the two-thirds majority to pass a budget or
legislation dealing with the energy crisis. That could force Democrats to
be a bit more accommodating than would usually be the case. "That's the
only power Republicans have, and I expect some hardball politics will be
played on that," Hoffenblum said. "In the midst of this utility crisis the
last thing Gov. Gray Davis wants is a scorched-earth fight on his budget.
So at some point, the Republicans say, 'Hey, listen, Mr. Governor, we'll
get you a budget on time, but we need a, b, c and d. And one of those is
don't screw us on reapportionment.' "
Los Angeles Times (Home Edition)
California to Gain Only One Congressional
By Mark Z. Barabak
February 26, 2001
California will gain just one congressional seat as a result of the 2000
census, the smallest number in 80 years. Still, with 53 members,
California will have the largest House delegation in history. The
delegation already is overwhelmingly Democratic, as is the state
Legislature. With the party controlling redistricting, the question is
whether Democrats in Sacramento will seek to increase their majorities and
further hobble California Republicans or decide merely to protect
incumbents and preserve the status quo. Complicating matters are term
limits, which make legislators keen to enhance their options, and the
tension between incumbents and restive Democratic allies--most notably
Latinos--who are hungry for a share of power.
"In many ways,
Democrats have maxed out," said Leo Estrada, a UCLA professor of urban
planning and a consultant to the Legislature and minority groups involved
in reapportionment. "If Democrats want to expand [their power], they will
have to expand outside Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area into
places that are more competitive." That is because much of California's
growth over the last decade has come in the Central Valley, the Inland
Empire and the region between Orange County and San Diego, all more
conservative than the two big cities. The overwhelmingly Democratic
strength in California is in contrast to the pattern in the rest of the
country, where the two major parties are much more competitive. That could
increase pressure on Democrats in Sacramento to draw congressional lines
here as favorably as possible, to offset a loss of seats elsewhere.
Party strategists may try to
carve out a Democratic seat stretching north from the Central Valley, put
the one new seat in friendly territory covering parts of the Inland Empire
and Imperial Valley, and collapse the districts of two or three Republican
incumbents. Those vulnerable are David Dreier of San Dimas, Elton Gallegly
of Simi Valley, Gary Miller of Diamond Bar and Steve Horn of Long Beach.
Democrats have a problem, however, within their own party as Latino groups
push for greater representation. Creating new districts with Latino
majorities could come at the expense of incumbents in such places as the
San Fernando Valley and elsewhere around Los Angeles. "That could require
three or four [incumbents] to restructure their districts in fairly
dramatic ways," said Estrada, something self-interested lawmakers are
loath to do. The changes may be less dramatic--and less painful--in the
Legislature because there are few places left in California with
significant Democratic registration that are not already represented by
Democrats. One wrinkle is the state's electricity crisis. "It puts the
governor in an interesting position," said Tony Quinn, a GOP analyst. "He
has to decide if he really wants to pick a fight" over reapportionment
when he may need Republican support to solve the energy mess.
Study Shows Minorities in California
Lost Political Representation When Corrected Census Data Was Not
January 18, 2001
A study released today by the Presidential Members of the U.S. Census
Monitoring Board found that minorities in California lost voter
representation in eight legislative districts and one U.S. Congressional
district when corrected census data was not released from the 1990 census.
The study can be viewed at http://www.cmbp.gov. The study, conducted
by Dr. Allan Lichtman, one of the nation's preeminent election experts,
analyzed the ten states with the largest undercount in the 1990 census to
find if the use of corrected census data would have affected the
opportunities for minority voters to fully participate in the political
process and elect officials of their choice.
Given the history of
the undercount, the study could indicate a significant loss in minority
voter representation if adjusted census data is not released in 2001. "The
implications of these findings speak directly to the future voting
opportunities for minorities in California. Without the most accurate
picture of the state, equal representation is much harder to achieve,"
said Gilbert F. Casellas, Presidential Co-Chair of the Monitoring Board.
"California is among the most affected states because of the tremendous
undercounting of minorities," said Lichtman. "The undercount in Los
Angeles County alone comprised some 306,000 persons, 37 percent of the
total state undercount and 53 percent of the population of a congressional
district in California."
Lichtman said the use of corrected data
would have enhanced minority voter opportunities by increasing the
baseline of majority-minority districts against which the next
redistricting plan will be measured. California Lt. Governor and Census
Monitoring Board Member Cruz M. Bustamante added, "One reasons I sponsored
the legislation that launched California's massive census outreach
campaign in California was to fulfill the promise of the Constitution: one
person, one vote and equal representation under the law. Dr. Lichtman's
study shows that if we aren't able to use data that reflects the most
accurate portrait of our State then we will have broken that promise." The
U.S. Census Monitoring Board, established by Congress in 1997, is a
bipartisan board that monitors the Census Bureau's conduct of the 2000
Census. Its findings are reported every six months to Congress. For more
information on the Board, visit: http://www.cmbp.gov
CONTACT: John Chambers of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board,