Times: "New Districts to Solidify Position for Incumbents."
September 1, 2001
Map of proposed Congressional districts available. August 31, 2001
Ventura County would lose one Democratic congressman and gain a new one under a proposed redistricting plan unveiled Friday.
Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) would hand off Oxnard and Port Hueneme to Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) under the new plan, while Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) would be edged out of the Conejo Valley portion of his district altogether.
The adjustments would solidify voting bases for all three incumbents and make Gallegly virtually untouchable to Democrats who have tried unsuccessfully to unseat him since his election in 1986. In redistricting at the state level, Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), a shrewd liberal once touted as an up-and-comer in the Legislature, would become a casualty of her own party's redistricting efforts, being shut out of a Senate race she had hoped to enter next year.
"I'm feeling terribly disappointed and equally indignant," Jackson said, vowing to fight the plan. If it is ultimately approved, she said, she will run for reelection next year to the Assembly, where she faces term limits in 2004.
Census Leads to New Districts
These are some of the local highlights of the once-a-decade redistricting process, in which lawmakers adjust state and federal political boundaries based on population shifts revealed by the census. After public input, the plans must be approved by the Legislature and Gov. Gray Davis.
Other proposed changes:
* The Santa Barbara coastline and Ventura, which are represented by Sen. Jack O'Connell (D-San Luis Obispo), would fall under the vastly reconfigured district of Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), one of the most conservative members of the Legislature. O'Connell has launched a bid for state superintendent of public instruction. McClintock's new district would retain a 42% Republican to 38% Democratic split that would make a bid by Jackson in 2004 unlikely.
* Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), who represents Beverly Hills and Malibu, would see her District 23 stretch deep into Ventura County, adding Oxnard and Port Hueneme. Democrats would outnumber Republicans 52% to 28%.
* Assemblywoman Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) would see almost no overall partisan shift in her District 41. But her reach would extend into Ventura County, picking up Port Hueneme and half of Oxnard, and her district would gain thousands of Latino constituents. Democrats would outnumber Republicans 49% to 31%.
* Assembly District 35, the seat held by Jackson, would pick up El Rio and the other half of Oxnard, allowing Democrats to pick up an additional 2% of voters and outnumber Republicans 44% to 33%.
* Assemblyman Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark), who feared he might be targeted by Democrats (who dominate his current district) because of his frequent criticism of the governor, instead would see his conservative base solidified thanks to the effort to bolster surrounding Democratic districts.
He is still mulling a possible run for the Ventura County Board of Supervisors instead of seeking reelection. He faces term limits in the Assembly in 2004 without the prospect of an open Senate seat.
Strickland's Assembly District 37 would become about 5% more Republican under the new changes, with Republicans outnumbering Democrats 46% to 35%. Strickland would give up constituents in Oxnard and Port Hueneme, his weakest areas politically. He would pick up Ojai, the Santa Clara Valley and about one-third of conservative Simi Valley.
* Assemblyman Keith Richman (R-Northridge) would see his District 38 become about 3% more Republican, gaining whites and losing Asians as it picks up Santa Clarita. Republicans would outnumber Democrats 46% to 36% in the district, which includes two-thirds of Simi Valley.
Of all the proposed adjustments, the apparent damage to Jackson's political career has drawn the most attention and speculation.
Sen. Don Perata (D-Alameda), chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee, rebutted speculation that Jackson had been targeted by leaders within her own party. Instead, he said, she was a victim of circumstance.
The Political Twists and Turns
Democrats had agreed to leave Republicans with 14 Senate seats, and Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks) had urged the creation of a Senate seat that would be friendly to his ally, Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced), who is facing term limits in the Assembly.
With O'Connell leaving his seat, the Senate could keep the partisan split it promised Republicans, honor Hertzberg's request and avoid compromising a Democratic incumbent.
Jackson said she understands the politics at work, but believes the change forces coastal residents into a district with a senator who has widely different priorities.
"The people I represent care about the coast, the environment, reasonable gun control, their personal privacy, and a woman's right to reproductive choice," she said. "Mr. McClintock cares about none of these things. For the redistricting people to insult my constituents by making Tom McClintock their senator is absolutely appalling."
Meanwhile, Hank Lacayo, chairman of the Ventura County Democratic Central Committee, said the congressional shifts will make it nearly impossible for a Democrat to take on veteran Gallegly. Gallegly's district is currently split about 40% to 39%, with Democrats holding the edge. The newly redrawn district would be 46% Republican and 35% Democratic.
Gallegly would pick up Republicans in portions of central Santa Barbara County that are now in Capps' territory. He would regain a GOP majority in his district for the first time in a decade.
For her part, Capps would pick up Democrats in the swap. Sherman would pull out of Republican Thousand Oaks--giving those constituents to Gallegly--and would instead focus entirely on Los Angeles County.
Latinos Shifted to Democratic Districts
Herb Gooch, chairman of the political science department at Cal Lutheran University, said another interesting pattern is the shift of Latino voters into solidly held Democratic seats.
Kuehl's district would become 10% more Latino under its new boundaries, and Jackson's and Pavley's districts each would become 9% more Latino.
Meanwhile, Strickland's seat would be 17% less Latino. The Latino population would drop by 6% in McClintock's district and 2% in Richman's.
But Gooch said these shifts aren't empowering Latinos in Ventura County. Oxnard residents are likely to have different priorities than Malibu residents. Instead, the new lines "make it less likely for Oxnard and the rising Hispanic vote to be counted by itself," Gooch said.
Lacayo disagreed, saying those residents have more in common with Democrats from neighboring counties than Republicans from within the county.
State lawmakers proposed new political boundaries Friday for California's congressional delegation that would create a new, Latino-majority district in Los Angeles County but overall have limited impact on the partisan balance of the House.
The proposal--backed by both Democratic and Republican leaders--is designed to increase the Democratic edge in the state delegation by just one seat--to 33 Democrats and 20 Republicans. The state's delegation will expand to 53 seats in the next Congress from the current 52 because of population growth.
The proposal is a setback to Democratic hopes for recapturing control of the House. National Democratic leaders at one time had hoped that redrawing California's district lines could produce anywhere from two to four new seats for the party--offsetting losses in other states where Republicans control the process. But California Democrats had called those hopes unrealistic and warned that any effort to reach for more Democratic seats could backfire by making several incumbents vulnerable. The plan would protect incumbents of both parties except for Rep. Steve Horn of Long Beach, one of the dwindling number of moderate Republicans left in Congress, and Rep. Gary A. Condit (D-Ceres). Horn's district would be carved up, and Condit's would be redrawn in a way that would make him vulnerable to challenge in a primary if he ignores increasingly strong hints from party leaders who would rather he not run again.
The boundaries unveiled Friday may be changed slightly as a result of hearings to be held next week, but the bipartisan agreement all but rules out any major changes, redistricting experts in both parties said.
"There might be some room for tweaking, but the Republican delegation at this point plans to support it," said Brad Smith, a spokesman for Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas), chairman of the state GOP delegation.
In addition to the congressional redistricting, the Legislature plans hearings next week on remapping proposals for the state Senate, Assembly and the tax-collecting State Board of Equalization.
The Senate and Assembly plans, released earlier this week with bipartisan agreement, were largely designed to protect incumbents of both parties--a move that has the effect of locking in Democratic majorities in both houses for the next 10 years. The new district would be in effect in time for the primary election in March.
Under the plan, the state's newest congressional district would be a U-shaped swath stretching from Uptown Whittier south to Cerritos and Lakewood then back north through South Gate. The proposed district's population is at least 55% Latino and Democratic and is expected to elect a Latino Democrat. The new district would exclude much of east Whittier, which tends to be whiter than other parts of the city.
To draw that district, the map-makers did away with the 38th District, currently held by Horn, who barely won reelection last year. Horn could choose to run against an incumbent in a neighboring district, but if he decides to retire, Bush administration officials have suggested they would find a job for him, a senior Republican aide said.
That Republican loss would be offset by a new Republican-leaning district in the southeastern part of the Central Valley, including Tulare County.
The final uncertain element in the electoral math is the district of Condit. Under the plan, the district's boundaries would be realigned. A long, thin section of territory that reaches northward into Stockton would be added. That would pack more Democrats into what is now a closely divided district.
As a conservative Democrat who won many Republican votes, Condit had prospered in the current district until he was caught up in the Chandra Levy disappearance case.
Many Democratic leaders believe they would lose the seat if he were to run next year. If Condit does decide to run, the new district would be hospitable to a primary challenge by a more liberal Democrat.
There seems to be no shortage of possible successors, including such Democratic veterans as state Sens. Mike Machado of Linden and Jim Costa of Fresno and former state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi.
Latino redistricting advocates cheered creation of the proposed 53rd Congressional District. Some, however, were angered by what they said was the arbitrary splitting up of Latino communities in the San Fernando Valley between districts now held by Democrats Howard L. Berman of Mission Hills and Brad Sherman of Sherman Oaks.
"The San Fernando Valley has been divided, cut and fractured. The voting strength of the Latino community has been diluted and diminished," charged Armadis Velez of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
The Latino population in Berman's 26th District was reduced from 65% to 40% when heavily Latino communities were moved into Sherman's district, Velez said. The share of registered voters in the district who are Latino fell from about 40% to 17%, he said.
Those objections drew support from state Sen. Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles), the dean of the Latino caucus in the Legislature, who said the redistricting proposal "is going to have a lot of work done on it" before it will be approved by the Legislature.
"The plan protects incumbents. There ought to be more 'influence seats' that do create opportunities . . . for communities to elect people of their choice regardless of who they may be," he said.
But state Sen. Don Perata (D-Alameda), chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee, said he had heard no other complaints about the plan's treatment of the San Fernando Valley.
"The United Farm Workers wanted Berman saved and returned to Washington," Perata noted. "He's legendary on farm worker issues."
National Democratic leaders who wanted to use the California redistricting process to create even more Democratic seats ran into objections early on from California Democrats, including Gov. Gray Davis.
State Democratic leaders warned that the party already had won so many seats in California that the only way to create additional Democratic-majority districts would be to endanger seats the party already held. Democratic Congressional incumbents, including Reps. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank, Jane Harman of Venice, Susan A. Davis of San Diego and Lois Capps of Santa Barbara, would have been put at risk, they said.
"You could produce additional Democratic seats by making a lot of other Democratic seats marginal," said state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco). Democrats might win in such a "marginalized" district in 2002, but lose the seat in later years, he said.
That gamble would have been too risky, said Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), a redistricting veteran. "You would have made every one of them a Republican target," she said.
With the defeat of four Republican incumbents in the last election, along with the proposed new Democratic seat, "the national Democratic Party should be very pleased," Pelosi said. "We did our heavy lifting."
California's Legislature has proposed a new bipartisan map for the state's 53 Congressional districts that all but guarantees a big Democratic majority in the delegation for perhaps the next decade.
The redistricting plan is likely to not only solidify the gains the Democrats made in the last election, in which they took four Congressional seats from the Republicans, but also give Democrats an edge in presidential campaigns since representatives frequently work hard to deliver their districts for their party's candidate.
The district of Representative Gary A. Condit, a conservative Democrat, would become significantly more Democratic and somewhat more liberal. With Mr. Condit's political future in doubt because of his link to Chandra Ann Levy, the missing Washington intern, Democrats saw a need to protect the seat for a more mainstream Democrat. He has not said whether he will run again, and many state party officials have urged him not to. But Mike Lynch, his chief of staff, said today that even a conservative Democrat like Mr. Condit could probably win the new seat easily if he won the primary.
Voter registration in the new district would be 52 percent Democratic, compared with 46 percent in the current district. Registered Republicans would drop to 35 percent from slightly more than 39 percent.
The changes result from taking away some of the more rural voters in Stanislaus County and adding voters from more suburban areas near Stockton, in San Joaquin County.
As a result of the new census figures, the state's legislators have been working behind closed doors for several months on a new Congressional map, an old-fashioned game of tough political horse-trading.
The proposed Congressional redistricting plan was released today, and it confirmed that the Democrats were able to solidify their tight grip on the state, with 33 relatively safe seats, up from 32, and 20 seats for the Republicans. Plans for the State Assembly and State Senate were released earlier, and they, too, consolidated firm Democratic control over those bodies.
"You have to look at the state of California and realize it's in the Democratic column," said Dave Cox, the head of the Republican caucus in the State Assembly. "That's just reality."
State Senator Don Perata, the chairman of the committee that drew up the map, said: "I think what this does for California is it accurately reflects what the voters voted for in the last election. We've never had this kind of a mandate, but it's what the voters have said they wanted."
California won one more House seat because of its population growth, bringing the delegation to 53 seats. The seat, to be added in southern Los Angeles County, was drawn to all but guarantee victory for a Latino candidate.
That pleased some Latino officials in the state, which now has six Latinos in the Congressional delegation. But Latino officials expressed concern about several other districts and threatened to go to court if necessary to ensure that Latino concentrations were not broken up and their influence diffused.
In particular, they threatened to sue to reshape the Los Angeles district held by Representative Howard L. Berman, a Democrat. His district includes part of the San Fernando Valley, at one time a heavily white area that has become predominantly Latino over the last decade. But under the new map the district will drop to 18 percent Latino from 39 percent.
"They completely decimated the voting rights of the Latino community there," said Amadis Velez, the redistricting coordinator for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "We are calling on the community to stand up and not accept a plan that that weakens their ability to choose someone of their choice."
Mr. Velez said his organization would first take the battle to Sacramento, where legislative hearings will be held before the plan is voted on, probably in about two weeks. If that fails, he said, the group would consider going to court.
Mr. Berman said the proposed new district complied with the law and that he had always been and would continue to be a supporter of issues important to Latinos, like farm worker rights and immigrant rights.
Over all, many officials involved in the redistricting process said the map appeared likely to win approval, even if there were some modest shifts in coming weeks.
"It's a situation where our Republican Congressional colleagues should be happy," Assemblyman Cox said. "We delivered what we promised."
Garry South, the top political adviser to Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, said the plan achieved the governor's main goals.
"The governor's intent was to make sure that for the moderate members of Congress, that those seats were protected and made safer," Mr. South said. "I think we generally accomplished that."
If the map fails to win two-thirds approval in the State Assembly, it will be presented to voters in a referendum, something most politicians want to avoid, in part because it would delay the start of campaigning.
Some experts expressed concern over the way the map would tend to freeze most districts behind incumbents.
"The whole idea of elections is you're supposed to have a real choice and real competition," said Wayne Johnson, a Republican campaign consultant. "But this map just favors incumbents so much. This is a real status quo plan."
Mr. Johnson added: "The more you take Republicans and pack them into Republican ghettos, the way this does, the less chance you have for realizing gains elsewhere. It's classic gerrymandering in that sense."
Asian-Americans had also fought hard in the redistricting battle, organizing to consolidate their growing influence in a state where they make up about 11 percent of the population. While there are no majority Asian- American districts, community leaders tried to make sure that heavily Asian-American neighborhoods were not split up.
David Lee, the executive director of the Chinese American Voter Education Committee, said his group was disappointed because the Asian- American community in Silicon Valley was broken up and two seats in the San Francisco area were divided in a way that reduced the Asian- American concentration to about 30 percent, instead of the 36 percent or so sought.
The Bay Area would once again have a Republican congressman under proposed political boundaries that stretch the district of conservative Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy through much of the Livermore and San Ramon valleys and into Moraga and Orinda.
The Democratic gerrymander plan, expected to be unveiled today or Saturday, would dismember the East Bay's most competitive congressional district, which had been looked to during the 1990s as a bellwether suburban seat for national political trends.
Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, represents the swing 10th District. Her new district would be stretched into parts of four counties -- Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano and Sacramento -- giving her a more heavily Democratic constituency.
"The fact that I fight like hell for my constituents will benefit not only the people I've represented so far but also the people I look forward to representing when these maps are finalized," Tauscher said.
A radical alteration of the 10th District has been expected since early this month, when Tauscher complained that she was being punished by fellow Democrats for failing to support liberal Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, in an intraparty battle.
But the stretching of Pombo's district around the south end of the new Tauscher district and so deeply into Contra Costa was a surprise. Although Tauscher managed to hang on to Lafayette, Pombo would represent Moraga and Orinda.
"I can't imagine any sense in which Pombo could effectively represent Lamorinda," said Michael Barnett, president of the Lamorinda Democratic Club. "His interests are those of a rural farming community, which is a very conservative community. Even the Republicans here are not conservative Republicans."
Pombo, a cattle rancher who often wears a cowboy hat in official photos, is an outspoken property rights advocate. The American Conservative Union rated his voting record perfect in 2000.
"Congressman Pombo would fit in anywhere in the state of California because people like individuals who talk straight with them," said his chief of staff, Steve Ding. "They will know where he stands, and when they ask him a question, they will get an answer."
According to documents obtained Thursday by the Times, slightly more than one-third of Pombo's new district would be in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. It's part of a plan for the entire state congressional delegation that will undergo public hearings next week in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. A consultant hired by Democratic members of the California's congressional delegation drafted the plan.
The once-a-decade redrawing of political lines to reflect population changes requires approval of both houses of the state Legislature and the governor. Legislators are racing to complete the process before candidates start filing papers Sept. 27 for the March primary.
The congressional delegation plan will be presented as the Senate Democrats' version. Assembly Democrats have suggested they might present their own plan, but most expect the Senate plan to dominate.
With Democrats hoping to avoid a court battle and Republicans, who are in the minority, trying to stave off a gutting of their members, the two sides have agreed in principle to a plan that would strengthen incumbents and preserve the current partisan split. Democrats would gain only the one new congressional seat allocated to the state because of population shifts across the country.
It is toward that goal of shoring up incumbents that Tauscher would be forced to shed some of her more Republican areas to Pombo, making both more politically secure in future elections.
Tauscher would shed Pleasanton, Dublin, Sunol, Castro Valley, San Ramon, Danville, Blackhawk, Diablo, Moraga and Orinda. Pombo's Central Valley district would pick up most of that area.
In West Contra Costa, Tauscher would pick up El Cerrito and Kensington from Rep. George Miller's district while Miller would pick up Clayton from Tauscher's district.
Tauscher managed to stave off threats of losing Livermore, with its two national weapons laboratories. North of the San Joaquin River, she would pick up Isleton and Walnut Grove in Sacramento County and Dixon, Fairfield and Suisun City in Solano County.
The addition of Travis Air Force Base near Fairfield to Tauscher's district could strengthen her reputation as a leading Democratic voice on defense issues.
Reach Political Editor Daniel Borenstein at 925-943-8248 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like state Assembly maps unveiled Wednesday, the new Senate districts statewide maintain a strong Democratic majority - virtually assuring that the party will control the Legislature through 2012.
The Democrats have drawn maps that attempt to preserve a 50-30 majority in the Assembly and a 26-14 majority in the state Senate. New congressional-district maps could come as early as today.
Senate Republicans were still reviewing the maps to determine the effect.
"Frankly, we've not finished analyzing it, and to comment prior to a complete analysis of the plan would not be appropriate," said Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte of Rancho Cucamonga.
Perhaps the most significant change for Orange County occurred in Sen. Bill Morrow's district, which shifts deeper south into San Diego County. Morrow of Oceanside has represented south county as an assemblyman and now a senator, including Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods and Laguna Niguel. Now, he will represent only San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente in Orange County.
"I've represented that area for nine years and I've always fit in well and I'd like to keep it," Morrow said.
The move would displace Assemblywoman Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, from Morrow's district - the natural Senate district for her to represent once Morrow leaves office. Like Morrow, she also represents the southern portion of Orange County and northern San Diego County.
Bates said she wasn't sure if the shift was "good or bad," but said she was still planning to run for the Senate. It's just a matter of which district, she said.
But south-county mayors were disheartened about the breaking up of their coastal region into three districts: those of Morrow; Ross Johnson, R-Irvine; and Dick Ackerman, R-Fullerton.
The cities have similar concerns about water quality, urban runoff and, of course, the El Toro airport.
"It's helpful to be able to come in, as a group, to your state senator or state assemblyman and present the issues," said Laguna Niguel Mayor Cathryn DeYoung. Now, they'll have different representatives.
"We'd be happy with Dick Ackerman, Bill Morrow or Ross Johnson," she said. "But our concern is the division of south county."
The other major change was in the northern part of the county, where Los Angeles County Sen. Bob Margett, R-Arcadia, will represent parts of La Habra, Brea, Placentia, Yorba Linda and Anaheim.
Margett previously represented central and southern Los Angeles County. Now, a quarter of his constituents are in Orange County.The county's lone Democratic district was strengthened for incumbent Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Santa Ana. The district gained about 1.4 percent more Democrats and lost the same number of Republicans. Most of Dunn's loss was centered around Garden Grove and Westminster.
The Legislature will hold hearings on the proposed maps Wednesday. Any member of the public wishing to comment may e-mail WebMaster@sen.ca.gov.
California Democrats have begun abandoning Rep. Gary A. Condit in word and deed, further damaging the political fortunes of a congressman who until recently was thought unbeatable in his conservative district in the state's Central Valley.
Dismayed by Condit's conduct in the four months since the disappearance of intern Chandra Levy, and fearful that a crucial Democratic congressional seat is in jeopardy, state party leaders have drawn a preliminary redistricting plan partly in the hope of persuading him not to seek reelection next year, sources said today. The proposal is scheduled to be unveiled Thursday.
Earlier this week, one of Condit's closest political allies, California Gov. Gray Davis (D), publicly criticized him for the first time, saying he has not demonstrated enough candor about the Levy case. "I'm disheartened that Congressman Condit did not speak out more quickly or more fully," Davis said.
Meanwhile, a new batch of polls in Condit's district in the farm towns of the Central Valley suggest that most of the voters who have strongly backed him for more than a decade are not inclined to give him another term. In one survey, only 27 percent of voters said they would vote for the six-term House member again.
Republicans in California, which has become a Democratic political stronghold, are watching the retreat with glee. In the struggle for control of Congress during next year's midterm elections, the state will be a prime battleground.
"The Republican Party never thought it would defeat a Condit, never in a million years," said Jim DeMartini, chairman of the Republican Party in Stanislaus County, which includes Condit's district. "But he did it for us. He was on political life support for about two months, but now he's dead." No senior Democratic leaders in California are urging Condit, 53, to resign. If he did, the seat in his district, as it is currently drawn, could easily be won by a Republican candidate. But in the week since Condit ended his lengthy public silence about the Levy case, the party has plainly begun distancing itself from him.
State Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D) said today that Democratic leaders in California are "more open" to having a candidate challenge Condit in a primary election. She also said she has noted new frustration among Democratic lawmakers with how Condit has handled himself in the Levy case. Authorities and Levy's relatives have said Condit had an affair with the 24-year-old intern, who was last seen April 30 in Washington. But in a television interview last week, Condit was repeatedly evasive when asked to confirm the relationship. Police have said Condit is not a suspect in Levy's disappearance.
"I know there was widespread disappointment after Mr. Condit went on television last week," Kuehl said.
Another senior Democratic official in California said today that there is growing consensus among party leaders that it would be best if Condit did not seek reelection, even though they believe he might be able to win another term.
"I think there is a general feeling among Democrats that they don't want him to resign," the official said, "but that he do the right thing and say he's going to serve out his term and not run again."
The public rebuke Condit received this week from Davis is particularly significant, Democratic leaders said. The governor is a longtime friend of Condit and his family. And Condit has been a key ally of his in the Central Valley, one of the state's most hotly contested political regions.
The two men began their legislative careers together in 1982, and Condit endorsed Davis for governor long before Davis's candidacy looked formidable. Davis had been silent for months about how Condit had handled the Levy case.
"While I get no joy out of this whatsoever, I just think it is important that Gary Condit be as forthcoming as possible, do everything humanly possible, to help law enforcement identify the location of Chandra Levy," Davis told reporters.
Since he began granting media interviews last week, Condit has adamantly denied having a role in Levy's disappearance and has said that he fully cooperated with police.
After Davis made his comments, Condit's two children resigned from their jobs with the governor. Chad Condit, 34, and Cadee Condit, 26, sent Davis a letter saying the Condits "are a proud and loyal family, not only in the good times but also during the darkest hours. . . . Continued employment with the governor's office would undercut that standard."
Ever since he was elected in 1989, Condit, a conservative Democrat, has coasted to reelection in a district that Republicans have long coveted.
But now, as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process, the California legislature is preparing to redraw political boundaries for state and congressional political offices. Both houses of the California legislature are controlled by Democrats.
If approved by the legislature, the redistricting plan being drawn would add thousands of new Democratic voters, many of them Hispanic and unfamiliar with Condit's record, to his congressional district. If Condit runs again, that could help him, party leaders said. But they are also hoping to aid the candidacy of a Democratic successor by making the district less conservative.
Condit has until Dec. 7 to decide whether to run. Bob Mulholland, the executive director of the California Democratic Party, said Condit's fortunes could change if the Levy case is resolved. "Maybe that will happen in the next few months," he said.
But he conceded that he is not optimistic. "Anybody in politics getting this kind of press is going to have a hard time," he said. In Condit's district, which includes the city of Modesto, public support for the veteran lawmaker appears to be dwindling.
All summer long, DeMartini said, he has seen the political mood shift in the district. At the county fair this week, DeMartini said that his usually lonely registration table was overwhelmed with people changing party affiliation.
"The numbers now are unbelievable," he said. "As of August 22, the Democrats are registered at 43 percent and Republicans are at 41 percent. It's never been this close."
Last year, 48 percent of the voters in Condit's district were registered Democrats and 37 percent were Republicans, according to the California secretary of state's office.
Angelo Dugo, who tops his lanky frame with a cowboy hat, is one of the voters tipping the scales for Republicans. "I switched from the Democratic Party. I'm a Republican now," said Dugo, 84, a retired police officer who stopped at a voter registration table. "When Gary Condit took his own polygraph, every police officer knows he's guilty of something, even if it's just lying. He can apologize all he wants; he's hiding something from the folks here, and that doesn't sit well with me."
Even friends of the Condit family say they are uncertain about what they should do politically. "I'm still confused, but with all that's happening, I may not vote for Gary," said Deborah Cole, who lives near the Condits in the town of Ceres.
"As a congressman, he's done a great job. I have a Vietnam vet in my family, and Gary's right there, 100 percent, with anything he needs. If his wife is okay with his lifestyle, I guess it's none of our business. But how can it be okay?"
Craig Ronyack, 41, a Chevron clerk, said that many of the drivers who pull into his station have harsh words for Condit these days. "I won't be embarrassing our customers if I have an affair," said Ronyack, who has lived in Modesto for 10 years but has never voted for Condit. "But the congressman is embarrassing all of us with this. We'd like to hear him apologize for that."
Sanchez reported from Los Angeles and Dvorak reported from Modesto, Calif.
If Rep. Gary Condit decides to seek re-election, he'll likely face an uphill battle because of a new congressional map that could bring about considerable changes to his district, an analyst said.
Under the new map, which Democrats planned to unveil as early as Friday, new voters could comprise nearly 40 percent of Condit's district, said state Sen. Don Perata, the Democratic chairman of the Senate elections committee.
Tony Quinn, a California political analyst and former Republican redistricting consultant, said the redrawn district would put Condit among unfamiliar, and more liberal, Democratic voters.
Those voters would be unlikely to support someone as tarnished as Condit, Quinn said, and some other Democrat might have a better chance of success.
Condit's political future, and whether he would have a friendly House district in which to run next year, have been the subject of intense speculation since the April 30 disappearance of former Washington, D.C., intern Chandra Levy.
Condit has admitted having a relationship with Levy, and the controversy surrounding the affair has eroded his political standing. A weekend poll showed Condit's constituents giving him high marks for his performance in office, but only 27 percent said they'd vote for him again.
Under the map reviewed Thursday by Condit's staff, he would gain new voters in San Joaquin County, but lose voters in eastern Stanislaus County, which has always been part of the district.
"You never want to lose any of your base,'' conceded Mike Lynch, Condit's chief of staff.
But he added that under the plan, the proportion of Democrats in the district would increase from 46 percent to 51 percent. Republicans, meanwhile, would decline from 39 percent to 35 percent.
"It's a good thing for any Democratic candidate in the district. Certainly it's a good thing for Gary,'' Lynch said.
Condit was re-elected with more than 67 percent of the vote last year, but President Bush carried the district with nearly 53 percent. It was the only Democratic-held House district that Bush carried in California.
Perata characterized the changes in the Senate's plan as a way to keep the district in Democratic hands whether Condit runs or not.
The changes are required to reflect population changes revealed by the Census. Democrats control the process because they hold majorities in both houses and the governor's seat.
Condit's home in the Modesto suburb of Ceres would be part of the district that would move north to pick up Democratic areas near Stockton.
Copies of the Senate's plan were being sent to members of California's congressional delegation and it could be made public Friday or Saturday, Senate aides said.
Spokesman Kam Kuwata said Assembly Democrats may propose their own congressional redistricting plan.
California Democrats today put the finishing touches on a congressional redistricting plan designed to protect all their current seats but yield only one pickup toward the national goal of regaining control of the House next year.
As described by leaders of the state Assembly and state Senate and aides to Gov. Gray Davis (D), the plan is crafted to increase the number of Democrats in the largest House delegation from 32 to 33, while preserving 20 seats for the Republicans.
The district of one Republican, Rep. Stephen Horn of Long Beach, would disappear, but Republicans would be given a new open seat in friendly territory that includes Tulare County in the Central Valley.
The new Democratic district would be designed for a Latino candidate in Los Angeles. The district of embattled Rep. Gary A. Condit (D) of Modesto would be reconfigured in a way that would strengthen Democratic numbers and give a Latino politician a chance of winning the primary, especially if, as most Democrats expect, Condit does not seek reelection.
The proposal is designed to lock in the gains Democrats made in 2000, when they captured four House seats from the GOP. All of those freshman Democrats would be given improved districts.
But hopes expressed earlier by House Democratic leaders that California would provide a bounty of additional seats, as the party strives for the six-seat gain that would end the GOP's eight years of control, apparently will be disappointed. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) had hoped that California would offset states such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where Republicans control redistricting and can make the Democrats bear the brunt of the seat loss required by new census figures, showing those states lagged in population growth.
Davis said in an interview that he had told Gephardt at a recent meeting in Washington that "the voters essentially redistricted by themselves last November and my goal now is to strengthen the reelection chances of our new, moderate members."
Aides to Davis and the Democratic legislative leaders said that any plan that aimed at more than a one-seat pickup would disperse the reliable vote so widely that current incumbents might be at risk.
Leaders of the state Senate and Assembly, both with solid Democratic majorities, exchanged plans today and are expected to make their new map public Friday or Saturday.
The plan faces several potential hurdles before it can go into effect. Despite the potential of adding one or two more Latino members to the delegation, the legislature's Latino caucus tonight was still weighing the possibility of submitting its own map -- which reportedly would help Latino challengers in other districts with growing numbers of Hispanic voters to take on Democratic incumbents.
Republicans, who said they had not yet seen the map, do not have enough votes to block passage of the Democratic plan. But their votes are needed for the two-thirds majority Democrats are seeking. With a two-thirds vote and Davis's signature, the plan would go into effect immediately and not be subject to a popular referendum next year. That would enable candidates to begin their campaigns for the March primary and the November election now, with certainty about their district lines.
Republican leaders signaled that they were prepared to go along with any plan that protected their current 20 House seats, even though it likely consigned them to minority status in the delegation for the next decade. After a meeting Wednesday with several of the GOP incumbents, including Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas and Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, state Senate Minority Leader James L. Brulte said, "From our point of view, 33-20 is fine."
Republicans are also being asked to accept plans that would make them a long-term minority in the state Senate and Assembly. An aide to Assembly Minority Leader Dave Cox said, "Our caucus will do almost anything to help President Bush keep a Republican majority in the House," as saving 20 GOP seats in California presumably would do.
Assembly Speaker Robert M. Hertzberg said in an interview that the redrawing of Condit's district to include Democratic areas of Fresno was planned long before Condit became enmeshed in the Chandra Levy disappearance case. "Gary was talking about running statewide in 2002," Hertzberg said, "and we knew we had to add Democrats to that district to keep it safe for any other candidate."
One Democrat who has complained publicly about the redistricting is Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who represents a fairly affluent suburban area east of San Francisco Bay. Tauscher's district has been redrawn to remove some of that territory and substitute more blue-collar and minority areas. Even though the Democratic registration margin would increase, Tauscher, a leader in the New Democratic coalition in the House, charged that she was being punished by state Senate President John Burton for refusing to support Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D), a Burton ally in San Francisco politics, in Pelosi's race against Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) for the post of House minority whip.
Tauscher reportedly gained one last-minute concession when the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a major research facility, was kept in her district.
Tauscher said tonight that even though "my district has doubled in size and 44 percent of the population are people I have never represented . . . I'm very pleased that some of my concerns were listened to."
The plan Burton is supporting and Democratic state senators financed was drafted by Michael Berman, a Los Angeles political consultant and veteran of past redistricting battles, whose brother, Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.), is a House veteran.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) told the Orange County Register this week that she and all but two of the other Democrats in the delegation had paid Berman an additional $20,000 each to ensure favorable boundaries. "Twenty thousand is nothing to keep your seat," the paper quoted her as saying. "I spend $2 million every election. If my colleagues are smart, they'll pay their $20,000 and Michael will draw the district they can win in."
While Dublin Mayor Guy Houston was scrambling Wednesday to save his Assembly campaign, Republican strategists in Sacramento were unconcerned about the fate of their best-funded legislative candidate in the East Bay.
As the Times forecast, proposed new Assembly districts released Wednesday morning would place all of Dublin in a heavily Democratic district, forcing Houston to choose between a long-shot campaign there or moving into a GOP district.
"This new map was a curve ball for all of us," said Steve Lesher, chief of staff to Assemblywoman Lynne Leach of Walnut Creek, the Bay Area's only Republican legislator. "This process is so fluid that this map could change by tomorrow."
But it might not change much. Saving Houston's candidacy is not a priority of Republican strategists in Sacramento.
"We're trying to draw seats we can maintain for a decade," said James Fisfis, press secretary to Assembly Minority Leader Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks. "Drawing it for one particular candidate doesn't necessarily help us do that."
Indeed, adding Dublin to the district would strengthen Democrats.
Moreover, while Republicans grumble in the East Bay, party legislators are generally happy with the Assembly plan, said Tony Quinn, a GOP redistricting expert. He predicted they will provide enough support to ensure the plan passes with two-thirds approval, enough votes to block any referendum attempt.
Republicans currently have 30 of the Assembly's 80 seats. The proposed plan would give them at least 28 strong Republican seats and Wednesday they were negotiating for two more. "Considering what they could have gotten, they'll be very happy," Quinn said. "They could have been down under 25 seats."
The Legislature will hold hearings next week on the plan and maps for the state Senate and congressional districts. It's all part of the decennial redrawing of political boundaries to adjust for population changes.
In the East Bay, the Republican concern focuses on the 15th Assembly District currently represented by Leach, who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election. The proposed new district would stretch from Walnut Creek to Manteca.
Houston has had his eye on the seat for years and already has raised more than $240,000 for the campaign. But, if Dublin is kept out of the district, he will have until Dec. 7 to move if he wants to run in the March primary.
"I would hope Assembly Republicans are fighting to keep Dublin in the 15th," said Houston's campaign consultant, Tim Clark. "They need a strong candidate in the East Bay to hold that seat. Over the next two or three weeks, there's going to be a lot of negotiation, and I think we're going to see some lines move."
While Republican Assembly leaders are fighting to change the proposed 15th District, their concern is not about Houston, said Fisfis, the Cox spokesman.
The district was a topic of a meeting Wednesday between Cox, the Republican leader, and Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys.
Republicans worry that the district might not be as strongly Republican as registration numbers suggest. The trend might turn it into a Democratic stronghold by the end of the decade.
They also worry that the Contra Costa portion is very similar to the county supervisor district now represented by Donna Gerber of Walnut Creek, the leading Democratic candidate.
Gerber, a former nurses union negotiator, said Wednesday that she was not discouraged by the Republican registration and that there is "no question" she will run.
Republicans' concerns about the district makeup have kept their analysts from considering it a solid 29th seat in the GOP camp, Fisfis said.
The bigger concern for the party is finding a way to carve out the 30th seat Republicans have been promised. Negotiations over that seat are focused on the Central Valley and might lead to lopping off the Manteca branch of the proposed 15th District.
Ironically, if that happens, mapmakers might be forced to add Dublin to the 15th District to boost its population.
Reach Political Editor Daniel Borenstein at 925-943-8248 or email@example.com.
In new boundary maps unveiled Wednesday, the state Assembly proposed increasing the number of Orange County districts from seven to nine, some of them reflecting the growing local clout of Latinos.
The new maps also pull Corona, Norco and part of western Riverside County into a formerly all-Orange County district--and put residents with differing transportation priorities under one representative.
In addition, the plan would push Buena Park, La Palma and parts of other Orange County cities into Los Angeles County-based Assembly districts. The boundary changes, done every 10 years after the once-a-decade census, are required to divide the state's population equally among 80 Assembly and 40 state Senate districts. They immediately drew fire from local leaders.
Buena Park City Councilwoman Patsy Marshall complained that her city and La Palma "have nothing in common" with other cities in the same district, "other than the fact we're all in California."
Under the plan, her city would be placed in the 56th District of Assemblywoman Sally M. Havice (D-Cerritos), who cannot seek reelection because of term limits and who has announced she will run for Congress.
Marshall said the majority of the district's population would be based in Los Angeles County, diluting the voice of residents of the two Orange County cities. The reconfigured district would have a Democratic majority, but most of the county's eight other districts remain solidly Republican.
Assemblyman Robert Pacheco (R-Walnut), whose 60th District now includes Whittier, would see his reach extended into Orange County's northern area, picking up portions of Anaheim, La Habra, Orange, Villa Park and Yorba Linda.
"I'm happy to say that Orange County has a Latino Republican who's going to be representing them," he said. "It's been a time when they've needed someone to step up to the plate in Orange County because of the influx of Latinos in that area."
Fred Smoller, chairman of the political science department at Chapman University, said larger forces are at work than boundaries.
"There's a theme here of growing Latino influence, and there's simply larger issues here, such as a concerted effort by [President] Bush to have outreach to [Mexican President Vicente] Fox and dealing with immigration issues, and also Gaddi Vasquez's recent nomination to head the Peace Corps," he said. "These are good things."
Nowhere has the redistricting ride been more topsy-turvy than in the 71st District of Assemblyman Bill Campbell (R-Villa Park). Early maps eliminated his district altogether. It was resurrected over the weekend by the Republican Caucus.
Now, the district would extend east over the Riverside County line to include nearly all of Norco, Corona and a portion of Riverside. The district's survival was good news to Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who has declared his candidacy for Campbell's district.
Assemblyman Ken Maddox (R-Garden Grove), whose 68th District was strengthened, said that, if elected, Spitzer will have a district that includes transportation opposites: "You have people in Rancho Santa Margarita who don't want a roadway through their city and people in Corona who do."
Maddox's district moved south into Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.
Spitzer, who spent Tuesday evening and much of Wednesday in Sacramento, said there's a "golden opportunity" to solve the Riverside Freeway congestion with the boundary changes.
"We're going to have to involve Riverside County and Orange County, and the discussions have always been Riverside County versus Orange County."
Over the past decade, Tulare County has been served by three Assembly districts, and some leaders in the county felt that the divided attention was not helping the cause in Sacramento.
For the better part of a year, they have been agitating for the county to get its own Assembly seat and the focused political representation that comes with it.
Now, it could happen.
On Wednesday, a committee charged with the decennial redrawing of state legislative maps proposed an Assembly district that would take in almost 80% of Tulare County.
"It certainly gives someone from Tulare County a viable opportunity to be elected," said Visalia Mayor Don Landers, who was one of those seeking a single representative for the county.
That is the biggest change -- but not the only one -- for the Valley in the maps released by the Assembly Committee on Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments.
Assembly districts represented by Sarah Reyes, D-Fresno; Mike Briggs, R-Clovis; Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield; Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto; and Dean Florez, D-Shafter, would also see their lines change, as would every district in the state.
For instance, Reyes' 31st Assembly District would lose much of its Tulare County territory and instead stretch west in Fresno County to Interstate 5. Keeping its Democratic majority, the seat would pick up Fresno County cities such as Kerman, Mendota and Firebaugh. T
he district also would include roughly half of the city of Fresno, splitting it with the newly configured 29th District -- a seat held by Briggs. Tulare County communities of Dinuba, Cutler and Orosi would stay in the 31st, but Visalia, Earlimart, Pixley and Tipton would be removed.
Just to confuse matters more: There is no guarantee the Assembly's maps will become reality. They are the first step in a process that will play out over the next few weeks.
The state Senate will release its own plan, and the committee plans more hearings on its proposal. What eventually goes to Gov. Davis for his signature could look much different than the maps made public Wednesday.
Still, politicians and political activists were buzzing over the possibilities, of winners and losers, and how the new plan could help Democrats -- who have control over the redistricting process -- in their efforts to gain a two-thirds supermajority in the state Legislature.
Under the proposed plan, Reyes' district would lose many small Tulare County communities -- and add a good portion of Fresno County instead. That excites Henry Perea, Fresno City Council president and a possible Reyes challenger.
"I'm really encouraged by the new lines," he said. "You certainly can't discount Tulare County, but this race is going to be won in Fresno County."
While the 31st District gains Fresno real estate, it loses land in Tulare County, much of which has been drawn into the 30th Assembly District. Democrat Florez currently holds the seat, but is abandoning it to run for Jim Costa's Senate seat next year.
The 30th District would shift southward out of western Madera County. It would retain the southwest portion of Fresno County, including the cities of Coalinga and Huron, and would pick up the city of Kingsburg.
The still Democratic-leaning seat would maintain all of Kings County, but would lose some Kern County ground, including most of the city of Bakersfield and all of Taft. It picks up more than 40,000 Tulare County residents, all in rural farming areas such as Pixley, Tipton and Terra Bella.
"I was pleased with the district before," said Nicole Parra, a Democrat who will seek the seat. "I'm pleased with the district lines now."
Under the proposal, the 30th would see a 1.3% increase in Democrats, to 49%, and a 3% increase in the Hispanic population, to 61%. Parra is one of a large number of Democrats who will seek the seat, and the voter breakdown would suggest they are in a good position to inherit the seat from fellow party member Florez.
But while Florez has been a strong candidate in the district and its voter registration still favors a Democratic candidate, Republicans are eyeing the largely agricultural seat.
Assembly Republican Caucus spokesman Jamie Fisfis points to the 51% that President Bush won in the 30th District last November as a strong indicator.
"We think it will be a bellwether seat for the next decade that will trend Republican," Fisfis said.
By comparison, a safe bet for Republicans will be the 29th District, which would still be based largely in Fresno, Clovis and the Fresno County foothills. The seat, which belongs to Briggs, would move out of most of Tulare and into Madera County, swallowing the entire city of Madera and fast-developing areas along the San Joaquin River.
It also would gain the entire north end of the city of Fresno, moving some of those voters out of their tail-end placement in the current 25th District, represented by Cogdill, a Republican.
"I'm very excited to represent more of Fresno and to add the city of Madera," Briggs said. "[Former Assembly Member] George House and Dave Cogdill were never local people. Madera is like my back yard."
One of the biggest losers in the proposal is Republican Phil Wyman of Tehachapi.
As proposed, the new seat would carve out Wyman and his hometown of Tehachapi, leaving what Fisfis called a "Republican seat that does not have an incumbent residing in it."
The reconstituted seat, however, would still lean Republican -- 46% to 37%. The number of Hispanic voters would increase by 13%.
But as much as the proposed seat would be Tulare County-based -- almost 70% of the constituents would reside in the county -- geographically speaking it would be more of a high desert- or Owens Valley-based seat.
In fact, the proposed district would be one of the largest in the state in land area. It would take in all of Inyo County and Barstow, Needles and Twentynine Palms in San Bernardino County.
The GOP, however, says it will stay in their hands. Said GOP activist Johnny Amaral: "This really is an open seat, and it is a Republican seat."
Democratic leaders proposed Wednesday again carving up the San Fernando Valley among seven Assembly districts, only two of them Valley-based.
Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, defended the plan developed under his leadership, saying it was an effort to build bipartisanship with Republicans and increase Valley representation in the state Legislature.
"We are trying to avoid a (voter) referendum or an expensive court battle and will continue to work with Republicans," Hertzberg said. "For the Valley, we've increased representation. We have more members with a larger part of the Valley.
"For the most part, the Valley is in the city of Los Angeles and this is all about community of interests, which we've tried to take care of in this plan," he said.
The proposal got a generally tepid reaction from Valley civic leaders who have long complained that the community is gerrymandered out of its rightful share of seats at all levels of government. By population, the Valley should be entitled to three whole seats and part of another.
"My way of measurement is to see if 50 percent of the district is in the Valley," said Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association and chairman of the Valley Voters Organized Toward Empowerment secession group. "In the past, we have been given a lot of seats, but with no clout.
"If less than half the district is in the Valley, then we become disenfranchised by being the smaller fish in a much bigger district. This is important when you are talking about issues such as the 405-101 interchange, the Sepulveda Basin and other things like chromium 6 in water and the health impact."
The proposal -- likely to give the Democrats an even stronger stranglehold on the Assembly, where they have a 50-30 edge -- will be subject to a series of statewide hearings Tuesday and Wednesday. It then would return to a conference committee of the two parties in the Assembly for final passage.
Lawmakers are required to draw up new districts for members of the Assembly, state Senate and U.S. House of Representatives every 10 years to reflect population shifts in the U.S. Census. Proposals for Senate and congressional districts have not been released.
Assembly Republican Leader Dave Cox of Sacramento did not give an outright endorsement to the Assembly plan.
"We are analyzing the plan to make sure it is a fair one," Cox said, adding he wanted to also see the congressional district boundaries expected this week. "It is extremely important that our congressional numbers be held intact."
Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Granada Hills, voiced concern about seeing the Valley divided among so many members. His district is proposed to lose large portions of Chatsworth, North Hills and Granada Hills while picking up part of Simi Valley, the Santa Clarita Valley and the Sunland-Tujunga areas.
"I am sorry about losing that portion of my district that is in the San Fernando Valley," Richman said.
"The issue of the San Fernando Valley being divided and split has been a long-standing problem. I have been outspoken for a long time on the need to improve city services to the San Fernando Valley and it is not helped if power is divided," he said.
Much of those Valley portions he lost are going to Assemblyman Tony Strickland, R-Camarillo.
Each of the proposed Assembly districts has about 423,000 residents. On that basis, the 1.4 million residents in the Los Angeles part of the Valley could get three whole districts and part of a fourth.
Ross B. Hopkins, a Republican businessman who lost to Richman in the GOP primary last year, said he was disturbed by the failure to create a third Assembly district completely in the Valley.
"It's disturbing to see the inroads being made by these other districts into the Valley," Hopkins said. "Some of it can't be avoided by population shifts, but you'd think at least one more Valley district could have been created."
Hertzberg, however, defended the new Valley districts as adding clout.
"My experience has been in representing the San Fernando Valley, it's always been easier working with members who have an interest in it," Hertzberg said. "The more members with influence in the Valley, the better."
Under the new proposal, the districts represented by Hertzberg and Assemblyman Tony Cardenas, D-Mission Hills, remain completely in the Valley.
Assemblyman Dario Frommer, D-Glendale, will see his district move to the west to pick up much of North Hollywood and a major portion of Van Nuys and said he recognizes the concern of divided representation.
"It is a legitimate argument, but I think a better argument is that it also develops a synergy of people who care about the Valley," Frommer said. "Most of my district has been in Burbank and Glendale and while they are separate from the city of Los Angeles, there are a lot of common issues with the Valley. And, I think the more votes you have for the Valley, the better."
Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, is seeing his district expand north to include all of Studio City and Sherman Oaks, instead of the portion he now represents.
"The assemblyman sees this as beneficial," spokesman Scott Sunkin said. "He plans to open a full-time field operation for the Valley now, which couldn't have been justified before."
Koretz recognizes that many wanted more full-Valley districts, but believes it will help the area in the long run, Sunkin said.
"The assemblyman believes he will be able to be a better advocate for Sherman Oaks and Studio City now that he represents all of those areas," Sunkin said.
Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Woodland Hills, would continue to represent a large portion of the Valley, but her district would also extend from Santa Monica up to Oxnard.
"One of the problems we had is that I don't recall anyone from the Valley coming forward to make the case for a third district entirely in the Valley," Pavley said. "I've been very sensitive about the Valley portion of my district, even having my office in Woodland Hills.
"On the other side, you can argue that we now have seven people who will be familiar with and fight for Valley issues -- more than we've had before and I believe people will want to be responsive to the Valley parts of their districts."
David W. Fleming, a Valley attorney and appointee to the Los Angeles Reapportionment Commission, said he has raised the issue of diverse power in the past, but doesn't believe it applies in this case.
"When you're talking about the City Council, you're talking about only 15 members so every vote is more important," Fleming said. "In the Assembly, there are 80 members so I don't see how this makes much difference as far as the Valley is concerned."
Here are Assembly districts proposed in the Greater San Fernando Valley region:
Includes the Northwest Valley (parts of Canoga Park, Chatsworth and West Hills), one-third of Simi Valley, and all of Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, Piru, Santa Paula and Val Verde.
Population: 72,496 in Los Angeles County, 350,898 in Ventura County.
Includes the Valley communities of Porter Ranch, Sunland, Tujunga, Shadow Hills and parts of Granada Hills, Northridge, Lake View Terrace, Sun Valley and Sylmar; also two-thirds of Simi Valley, part of Glendale and all of Santa Clarita.
Population: 350,894 in Los Angeles County, 72,500 in Ventura County.
Includes San Fernando, Pacoima, Arleta, Mission Hills, Panorama City, and parts of North Hollywood, Sun Valley, Lake View Terrace and Sylmar.
Includes North Hills, Van Nuys, Reseda, and parts of Winnetka, Canoga Park, Northridge, West Hills and Woodland Hills.
Includes the Southwest Valley (Tarzana and parts of Woodland Hills, Encino and Sherman Oaks), and Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Westlake Village, Oak Park, Santa Monica, Malibu, Port Hueneme and half of Oxnard.
Population: 294,372 in Los Angeles County, 129,033 in Ventura County.
Includes the Southeast Valley (Studio City, most of Sherman Oaks, part of North Hollywood and Toluca Lake), Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and nearby areas.
Includes parts of Van Nuys, North Hollywood and Toulca Lake; Burbank; most of Glendale; Griffith Park; Los Feliz.
Includes La Crescenta, Montrose, La Canada Flintridge, Pasadena, San Marino, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, Altadena and nearby areas.
SOURCE: Assembly Committee on Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments.
A bipartisan redistricting plan that protects current Assembly Democratic and Republican seats for the next decade was made public Wednesday and immediately drew criticism as a "missed opportunity" for minorities in California.
Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks) announced the proposal and posted maps for public scrutiny on the Internet. He also defended it as fair and virtually immune to court challenge, historically an almost inevitable byproduct of redistricting.
"We have an exceptionally high degree of confidence that the Assembly plan would withstand a legal challenge on any constitutional or voting rights grounds," Hertzberg said in an interview. But he noted the proposal could be refined after public hearings next week. "It's not complete," Hertzberg said.
In redrawing political boundaries, state and federal law requires that minority communities be given the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice, provided they are concentrated in a particular geographic area and their populations are strong enough to meet guidelines of the U.S. Supreme Court.
But officials of two interest groups, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and California Latino Redistricting Coalition, charged that the plan falls short for minorities, particularly fast-growing Latino and Asian American communities.
"They could have done better," said Alan Clayton, research director for the Latino redistricting coalition, who lamented that it represents "missed opportunities for the Asian, African American and Latino communities."
But Clayton said he will not make a concrete judgment until the Assembly's final plan is produced after the hearings Tuesday and Wednesday.
Amadis Velez of the legal defense fund, which offered its own plan to the Assembly map makers, gave the announced Assembly proposal a mixed critique after his preliminary analysis.
"We are a little bit disheartened that in some areas the full potential of the Latino vote is not realized," Velez said. "However, the Assembly plan does go in the right direction in other areas of the state."
Velez praised the inclusion of the Riverside County community of Coachilla in a district with nearby Imperial County, which would increase the political power of the Latino population there. However, he criticized the proposed 56th Assembly District now represented by Assemblywoman Sally Havice (D-Cerritos). He said those drawing the lines started off in the "right direction" to improve Latino clout, "but they just stopped short. It's unfortunate."
Assemblyman John Longville (D-Rialto), chairman of the Assembly Elections Committee, said the plan reflects the enormous changes in the state's population in the last decade, particularly in inland areas.
In Los Angeles County, he said, Assembly districts that adjoin fast-growing San Bernardino County will be expanded eastward to reflect population increases in the Inland Empire. The shift would not result in fewer districts representing Los Angeles County, he said, but would alter them to take in more of western San Bernardino County.
Before it adjourns next month, the Legislature and Gov. Gray Davis must enact redistricting plans for the Assembly, state Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and the state Board of Equalization. The results, based on the 2000 census, will set political district lines for the next 10 years.
The Assembly map, which would preserve the lopsided status quo of 50 Democrats and 30 Republicans, was the first to be unveiled for public inspection.
The Senate proposal, also expected to protect the status quo of 26 Democrats and 14 Republicans, will be unveiled today or Friday, said President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco).
Map makers were uncertain when the proposed realignment of California seats in the House will be announced. Sources indicated that the nationally publicized troubles of Rep. Gary Condit (D-Ceres) have complicated the task.
As support for Condit evaporates in the aftermath of the disappearance of intern Chandra Levy, Democrats, including his longtime friend Gov. Davis, have sent coded signals that Condit should not seek reelection.
Hertzberg said he was unfamiliar with details of how the Condit seat in the conservative San Joaquin Valley might be rearranged. He indicated, however, that he favors making it a stronger Democratic district by thinning the ranks of Democrats in nearby safe districts.
Hertzberg stressed that the Assembly proposal reflects the efforts of Republicans and Democrats in what he termed a "great" demonstration of bipartisanship.
Assemblyman Bill Leonard (R-San Bernardino) agreed that partisanship was put aside in fashioning the plan. He predicted that there will be still be "some grumbling. But a lot of people will like it."
Hertzberg noted that in crafting the lines, many requirements had to be incorporated besides the impact on minority communities: the need to avoid splitting cities, respecting "communities of interest" and prohibiting "gerrymanders" that grotesquely tailor a district's configuration.
"We responded and made the appropriate shifts based on the population [changes] of the last 10 years," he said. "We have respected the growing population, regardless of whether they are African American, Asian American or Latino."
Every 10 years, the census provides a snapshot of our ever-changing country, this time showing that California has continued to grow and, as a result, will gain an additional seat in Congress.
The state Legislature is currently redrawing the boundaries of congressional districts to reflect this. It is an unenviable and tedious job, but it is essential to ensure that Californians continue to get fair and equal representation in every level of government.
The Legislature has historically taken into account a number of factors in redistricting, including geography, party registration and keeping cities whole. While each of these is important, none should outweigh respecting the sense of community people share. The new boundaries have got to be fair to the people who are in the district now, as well as those who may join it in the future.
In the East Bay, we share common-sense values that do not always follow the party lines of Republicans or Democrats. California's 10th congressional district has always been a microcosm of America and is a bellwether for what the nation is thinking on political and social issues. It is the classic "swing" suburban district in which voters rarely cast ballots based solely on party affiliation.
But the East Bay isn't the only place you find this. Congressional districts like these are the future of the American political landscape. In neighboring communities, including Santa Clara County to the south, Solano County to the north and throughout the state, voters value policy over partisanship.
Gone are the days when my father grew up in a community where even the dead voted Democrat. The fast pace of today's world demands that the government and people serving in it need to modernize to get beyond the old ideas of the "big government Left" and the "no government Right."
Today's voters want a new kind of representative who will work to make the government smaller, smarter and leaner, but not meaner. People want the government to be out of their way, but on their side, and we want a representative in Congress who feels the same way.
California has grown and changed dramatically in the last ten years. The city of Brentwood alone grew by more than 200 percent. We have become the nerve center of the high-tech revolution. From our newest city, Oakley, into the Delta communities and up through Solano County, the Northern California suburbs are growing dramatically and reflecting the same values.
As growing communities, we all understand firsthand why relieving congestion on our highways and creating more affordable housing are so important. These are not just important political issues for us. They define our very way of life.
We also share common-sense values about family and community. We strive to balance our desire for neighborhoods that are more livable with solutions that do not jeopardize our commitment to clean air and clean water. We want the government to be as fiscally responsible with our tax dollars as we are with our own paychecks. And, we hold our schools accountable for providing our children with a quality public education that will give them the tools they need to succeed in the twenty-first century.
Traditionally, congressional districts are made up of people who share values, not just grocery stores, school districts and BART stations. People with shared values make up a community; arbitrary political boundaries on a map do not. It is the ability of these communities to select a representative who truly represents them that provides the diversity that gives our democracy its meaning.
California has always led the nation -- socially, politically, and demographically. Suburban communities -- and the people in them who vote more for a candidate or an issue than for one party or another -- are where the future of our country's governance lies. If the Legislature is to do right by these communities in the redistricting process, they will draw the new boundaries with respect for these shared values.
Tauscher is a U.S. congresswoman representing California's 10th District.
Political junkies, start your computers. The politically potent process of reshaping California's legislative and congressional districts is about to go public, at least temporarily.
Democratic leaders say they'll unveil at least some of their redistricting proposals this week, clearing the way for negotiations between the Legislature's two houses and two parties and individual lawmakers.
The potentially conflicting plans will be posted on the Assembly and Senate's Web sites, allowing politicians, interest groups, political scientists, potential candidates -- anyone with a computer -- to analyze them.
The chairman of the Assembly elections committee, Democrat John Longville of San Bernardino, said there will be a "wealth of information that's going to be available'' with the Assembly's proposals, including voter registration and population breakdowns for each district.
Dave Sebeck, a spokesman for Senate President John Burton, D-San Francisco, said Senate officials hadn't determined how much information would be posted with the Senate's maps.
Done every 10 years
Legislators are required to redraw districts every 10 years to reflect population changes revealed by the new census.
Where the new lines are placed can decide the future of individual lawmakers and determine if one political party dominates the Legislature and the state's congressional delegation for the next decade.
Democrats control redistricting this time around because of their big majorities in the Legislature and the presence of Democrat Gray Davis in the governor's office.
But Democratic leaders say they'll try to produce plans that Republicans can support so they can avoid a GOP effort to get voters to overturn the new lines.
Downside for Demos
Longville said it would be foolish for Democrats to use redistricting to try to create a number of additional pro-Democratic seats because it could spread loyal Democratic voters too thinly.
"There's really a downside to trying to build yourself too many districts,'' he said.
Assembly Minority Leader Dave Cox, R-Sacramento, said the Assembly's top Democrat, Speaker Robert Hertzberg, hasn't promised that Republicans will like what Democrats produce.
"He didn't say, 'Dave, trust me. You're going to be OK.' We are of opposite parties. But we did talk about a fair and open process.''
The biggest conflict could break out between the Senate and Assembly because of political pressures created by the term limits. Legislators looking to extend their careers could end up fighting over the shape of seats in the other house or Congress.
Traditionally, each house draws its own districts and the other house approves them with little or no changes.
Michael Berman starts his workday at about 8 a.m. He often ends it around 6 -- the next morning.
He hardly eats or speaks. His aides are lucky to catch a glimpse of him for more than a few minutes, or hear him utter a word. His colleagues stick messages on the closed door of his Wilshire Boulevard office but say he usually ignores them.
Berman is the central figure in the once-a-decade ritual of redistricting -- redrawing political boundaries to reflect changes in population.
He has been hired by the Democrats, who control the process, at a salary of almost $2 million over 18 months.
His job is to draw California's congressional and state Senate districts -- 93 maps in all.
That makes Berman -- younger brother of Rep. Howard Berman, D-North Hollywood -- the most politically powerful man in the state right now.
He can move the boundaries and squeeze a sitting lawmaker out of his or her safely nested seat.
Or he can create a district so loaded with Democratic voters that no Republican candidate has a chance.
Whatever he emerges with will likely form the basis of the plan the Democratic-controlled Assembly and Senate will pass and Democratic Gov. Gray Davis will sign this fall.
The map maker's task is not easy. Because the maps must be able to pass muster in each legislative house, Berman must understand the interests of each of the incumbents, whose political futures are on the line.
The maps also must have the blessing of the U.S. Department of Justice, which ensures that minority voting blocs aren't diluted, and must be drawn with various interest groups in mind to avoid court challenges.
Census creates some challenges
Berman must take all this into consideration as he abides by the most basic rule of the game: Each political district must have approximately the same number of residents. For the state Senate, the number is 846,000; for the U.S. House of Representatives it's 639,000.
The regional particulars are these: Democrat-heavy Los Angeles lost people in the 2000 census relative to the rest of the state. The Republican-strong Inland Empire and Central Valley, meanwhile, gained. While adjusting boundaries to deal with that, Berman also must figure out how to draw in the one new congressional seat California picked up through the census; the state will now have 53 of the 435 seats in Congress, the most of any state.
In the state Senate, which remains at a permanent 40 seats, Los Angeles Democrats are particularly worried because their region has 11 senators for an area that now needs only 10.
That means either collapsing one of the strongly Democratic seats in the city or forcing Democratic lawmakers representing the fringes of greater Los Angeles to expand their districts into the Republican-heavy Inland Empire to grab enough people -- thereby eroding their strong voter bases.
A similar dynamic is at work with Los Angeles County's 10 core congressional districts, which somehow have to expand to pick up an average of 45,000 more constituents. That is likely to affect Republican congressmen on the geographic fringes, such as Reps. David Dreier of San Dimas, Gary Miller of Diamond Bar, and Ed Royce of Fullerton.
Ethnic considerations are in play as well. The Hispanic population is increasing, which poses a threat to many non-Hispanic incumbents, including African-Americans. Berman needs to draw boundaries that don't alienate either of these traditionally Democratic groups.
Republicans are pretty much spectators in this process, although Democrats need a few of them to go along with their plans to get a referendum-proof two-thirds' vote in each state chamber.
Many Republicans believe this will be a pretty benign year, with Democrats already so dominant that they can't do much to improve their position in the state.
But Republicans are still wary. Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista, who represents one of the safest Republican districts in the state, says he's been told by senior GOP members that even after they think they've come to terms with Berman, ``he'll make a few fence changes even between Republican districts that are troublesome'' -- such as forcing incumbent Republicans to run against each other.
Secretive king of gerrymandering
For three decades -- four redistricting cycles -- Berman has weighed in on California's political boundaries.
So serious and secretive is Berman about his task that no one who works for him is allowed to disclose where his office is. The directory in the lobby of the nondescript three-story office building does not list its reclusive third-floor tenant. A note on the outer office door asks that packages be dropped off at a room downstairs.
Berman likes toiling in near solitude, his aides say, not that any of them could be of much help anyway. His spacious personal office -- wallpapered with maps -- is cluttered with papers arranged in a way only he understands.
His attitude: `` `Unless you're on fire, don't bother me,' '' said Lynette Stevens, who works at Berman's firm, Berman and D'Agostino (acronym: BAD). She pauses. ``And even if you were on fire, he'd walk right by you and he'd not notice you.''
Berman, through an aide, declined requests for an interview. One veteran political reporter said he has been trying without success to get an interview with him for 10 years. But some of his friends and lawmakers this week agreed to talk briefly about the enigmatic redistricting king.
They describe the chain-smoking, rumpled Berman, 53, as ``brilliant,'' ``gruff but gentle,'' ``fingernail-biting,'' ``demanding'' and ``focused.''
Berman thinks, dreams and breathes the lines. He has read reams of census data months in advance -- line after line of numbers. On many days, he sits in his office alone, moving population numbers, voting-tendency analyses and political boundaries around in his head.
``The computer is almost irrelevant for Michael,'' said Bruce Cain, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
Democrats pay for Incumbency protection
Berman became involved in politics in high school. State Senate leader John Burton, D-San Francisco, met him when Berman was a high school student organizing the Young Democrats and toiling in the shadows of the more public west Los Angeles politicians, including ringleader Rep. Henry Waxman.
Berman used to drive Burton's older brother, the renowned San Francisco Democratic Rep. Phillip Burton, around Los Angeles during his visits there, and the two got to know each other, according to a biography of the late congressman.
In the 1980s, Berman -- the numbers technician -- and Phil Burton -- the political salesman -- artfully redrew California's districts to increase Democratic representation in Congress by six, to 28 Democrats vs. 17 Republicans, author John Jacobs wrote.
Now, Berman works for the younger Burton.
``He understands the stuff. He understands all the history of the districts,'' Burton said. The Sacramento statehouse Democrats are paying Berman $1.36 million to draw the state Senate districts. (Another Democratic consultant is drawing the lines for the state's 80 Assembly districts, although Berman has input on those as well.)
That worried congressional Democrats, who fear some of the Sacramento lawmakers are angling for their seats in Washington. So Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Santa Ana said she and the rest of the Democratic congressional delegation went to Berman and made their own deal. Thirty of the 32 Democratic incumbents have paid Berman $20,000 each, she said, for an ``incumbent-protection plan.''
``Twenty thousand is nothing to keep your seat,'' Sanchez said. ``I spend $2 million (campaigning) every election. If my colleagues are smart, they'll pay their $20,000, and Michael will draw the district they can win in. Those who have refused to pay? God help them.''
(Register staff writer Elizabeth Aguilera contributed to this story)