California's Redistricting News
(July 25, 2001 - August 19, 2001)


 Los Angeles Times: "Democrats Have Luck of Draw in Redistricting: Secure in their dominance, they will cooperate with the GOP in efforts to maintain the status quo, with an eye toward surviving term limits." August 19, 2001
 Roll Call : "Between the Lines." August 6, 2001
 Roll Call: "Pelosi Denies Whip Threats:Tauscher Charges Intimidation." August 2, 2001
 Los Angeles Times: "Redistricting Fuels Partisan Frenzy Government: The political future of many lawmakers will be reshaped along with their districts." July 25, 2001
 Los Angeles Times: "Democrats Rule the Redistricting Roost in California Politics: The GOP holds no majority in the Legislature. But kicking them while they're down could backfire." July 25, 2001

More recent information on redistricting in California

More information on redistricting in California from January 18, 2001-July 23, 2001

Los Angeles Times 
Democrats Have Luck of Draw in Redistricting: Secure in their dominance, they will cooperate with the GOP in efforts to maintain the status quo, with an eye toward surviving term limits.
By Carl Ingram
August 19, 2001

The Legislature will start work in earnest Monday on what many members admit is their most self-serving, interest-conflicted and partisan ritual: carving new political boundaries for themselves and Californians in Congress.

The outcome, virtually a foregone conclusion because Democrats control the Legislature and governor's office, is certain to further cement Democrats as the dominant party in the Senate, Assembly and the state's House delegation for the next decade.

Republican ranks are so thin in the Legislature that they play almost a spectator role. Democratic dominance is so heavy that there may not be many more Democratic seats to create without endangering other Democrats, said Senate President Pro Tem John L. Burton (D-San Francisco).

"We cannot get a lot more than we've got," he said.

Consequently, legislative leaders of both parties say they want to adopt plans that preserve the bipartisan status quo. That would tighten the Democratic lock, but also allow Republicans to keep their relatively few seats without the prospect of further weakening.

"Our goal is for a status quo reapportionment," said Sen. Don Perata (D-Alameda), chief architect of the still-emerging Senate plan. "I think if we do it right, we will have a bipartisan plan that will not be challenged" by a statewide referendum or in the Supreme Court.

The prospect of such a challenge is an attractive incentive for Democrats to work with Republicans. In California, if a redistricting plan wins two-thirds legislative approval and becomes law immediately, its opponents cannot challenge it with a ballot referendum.

Since the Democrats' majority is slightly less than two-thirds, they need Republican crossovers. A further danger if Democrats do not appeal to Republicans: All six Supreme Court justices are appointees of Republican former governors, George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson.

The last two line-drawings have signaled the need for at least some bipartisan agreement.

In 1982, Republicans blocked a Democratic redistricting plan with a statewide referendum, forcing the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown to rewrite it at a special session.

The next time around, in 1991, the court redrew the political maps when Wilson and legislative Democrats failed to reach a settlement.

Senate GOP Leader Jim Brulte of Rancho Cucamonga acknowledged that bipartisan cooperation is dictated not by a sudden love affair between enemies, but by political pragmatism.

"We Republicans have an incentive to work with Democrats because we know they can do the redistricting without us. They have an incentive to work with us because they know we can do a referendum and throw it into the court," he said.

"If we can pass a bipartisan plan, it takes the whole edge off," agreed Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks).

Redistricting, which includes the tax-collecting State Board of Equalization, is required every 10 years for the realignment of political districts to accommodate population changes.

Census results also are the key to allocating billions of federal dollars to state and local governments.

Historically, legislatures draw their own district lines to perpetuate the majority, a process criticized as an incestuous conflict of interest. In California, carving districts traditionally has been a nasty dogfight between the parties and occasionally among members of the same party who are fighting for political survival.

In the early 1970s, when Ronald Reagan was governor, Republicans briefly dominated the Assembly and Senate. That hasn't happened since.

Democrats in the Assembly now outnumber Republicans 50 to 30. In the Senate, the Democratic margin is 26 to 14, and in California's delegation to the House of Representatives it is 32 to 20.

California will gain a 53rd seat in Congress and it will be carved for a Democrat, experts for both parties agree. Whether it will be squeezed into Los Angeles or added to the fast-growing Central Valley will be decided soon, they say.

If the traditional fights are off the remapping easel this time, redistricting experts warn of a first-ever and potentially explosive wild card: term limits.

Although term limits were imposed by state voters in 1990, this will be the first redrawing of lines by lawmakers who face expulsion in 2002--more than half the members of the Legislature.

Attempting to prolong their political careers, many members of the Assembly are looking for favorable districts in the state Senate and Congress. State senators are focusing chiefly on the House, where terms are unlimited.

"Understandably, members of Congress are looking over their shoulders. If I were in Congress, I'd be a little nervous," said Assemblyman John Longville (D-Rialto), chairman of the Assembly Redistricting Committee.

Perata, who as a redistricting consultant gained previous experience at redrawing political boundaries, said he was astonished by the frenetic scramble, particularly by Assembly members.

One ambitious Democrat, freshman Assemblyman Juan Vargas of San Diego, who can run twice more for the lower chamber, began lobbying early this year for creation of a House "border district" next to Mexico in San Diego County. The area now is represented by veteran Democratic Rep. Bob Filner and two other House members.

Side by side with the scrambling incumbents are interest groups, primarily racial and ethnic minority organizations that want to make it easier for their communities to elect candidates of their choice.

Traditional organizations such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the William C. Velasquez Institute and the NAACP are actively pursuing their agendas, as is a coalition known as the African American Advisory Committee on Redistricting.

But a newcomer, the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans for Fair Redistricting, has emerged and is making itself felt. Catching the attention of legislators, the organization proposed a carefully sculpted Assembly plan that its drafters say could help elect candidates from up to 10 of its growing communities.

The proposed districts would have a plurality of Asian Pacific Americans, but not a majority, said Kathay Feng of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California.

In efforts to elect candidates of their choice, she said, those voters would form coalitions with like-minded organizations, perhaps African American or Latino community activists.

In the Assembly, there are four Asian Americans--three women of Chinese descent and a man of Japanese heritage, an all-time high. The Senate has none.

"They make very cogent and organized presentations," Perata said of the Asian Pacific Americans coalition.

Perata noted that the desire of Asian groups for more political influence comes as the Legislature's Latino numbers have expanded dramatically and its African American presence has rapidly diminished.

"We are trying to make sure that opportunities are enhanced and not diminished for all minority groups," said Perata, who is white but represents a predominantly black district in Oakland.

Times staff writer Miguel Bustillo contributed to this story.

Roll Call
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio and Chris Cillizza
August 6, 2001 

Getting the Jitters.

Bracing for a Democratic-controlled remap that could force them into hostile new territory, several House Republicans in California have intensified their fundraising drives this year.

At least half the 20 Republicans in the state's 52-Member delegation raised far more money in the first six months of this year than they collected during the comparable period in 1999, according to fundraising reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission.

The group which features several top redistricting targets, includes Reps. Elton Gallegly, Bill Thomas, Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce, John Doolittle, Buck McKeon, Ken Calvert, Mary Bono, Duke Cunningham and Duncan Hunter. Fundraising reports were unavailable for Reps. Christopher Cox and Richard Pombo.

"Both houses of the [Legislature] and the governorship are held by Democrats, so what we Republicans are holding is our breath," Rohrabacher told the Orange County (Calif.) Register. "I've raised a little bit more money than I normally would in case the district is so configured that I have a lot of new voters. I will have some money to introduce myself."

There was, of course, an exception to the rule. Another House Republican wearing a bull's eye on his back, Rep. Steve Horn, raised just $4,000 during the six-month period, adding fuel to speculation that he may retire next year.

The state legislature will start considering new House maps later this month.

Roll Call
Pelosi Denies Whip Threats:
Tauscher Charges Intimidation
By Ethan Wallison
August 2, 2001

Exposing a rift between two of the House's most powerful women, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) charged this week that allies of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the state Legislature are threatening to weaken Tauscher's district in redistricting as retribution for her decision to back Pelosi's opponent in the race for party Whip.

Tauscher charged that the effort is being led by state Sen. John Burton (D), a former Member of Congress and close Pelosi associate who is now the Senate's President Pro Tempore. She also maintained that Pelosi has given at least tacit approval to the tactic by not taking steps to put an end to the talk.

"I frankly can't believe that [Pelosi] would risk the [House] majority to get a leadership job," Tauscher said. "The message here is that this has got to stop. She's got to stop [Burton]."

Pelosi's camp angrily denied the charges, and Burton himself declared that anyone who suggests he has made such threats is "full of s-."

"Everyone [in the Bay Area delegation] is going to be shifted around to ensure that incumbent Democratic districts remain incumbent Democratic districts," Burton said in an interview Tuesday. "Ellen's running away with nobody chasing her."

Pelosi said it would be "ludicrous" to believe that she or any supporter would do anything that would hurt the ability of Democrats to regain the majority.

"I have never heard of anything in thought, word or deed that suggests we would do anything but send back the 32 [Democrats] we have here," Pelosi said, calling that result "a point of honor" for her.

"To think for one minute that there's any attempt to diminish that [figure] - that just doesn't understand California's place in the country," she added.

The controversy opens a window on the complex, internecine politics of both the Whip race and the massive California delegation, Pelosi's base in her campaign for leadership against Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

Against a backdrop of strong delegation backing for Pelosi, Tauscher became California's most prominent - and only public - apostate in the Whip race when she announced her support for Hoyer last summer.

That move was not unexpected, but was nonetheless damaging because it further exposed Pelosi's presumed weakness among Caucus centrists, an appreciable number of whom would be needed for the Pelosi campaign to be victorious.

The rumors, according to Tauscher and associates both in Washington and California, began soon after. And they coincided with efforts by the Pelosi camp to get her backers to publicly go on the record as supporting her.

Tauscher, for one, has surmised that the talk about possible steps being taken against her in redistricting - which in California is controlled completely by Democrats - is not only meant as an attack on her but as a warning to other Californians who may have considered stepping out of line.

Nearly every other delegation Member has since signed letters pledging their commitment to Pelosi.

"When there's no response [to the rumors] from Nancy Pelosi, you say to yourself, 'Well, why are the threats out there?'" Tauscher said.

As for Pelosi's contention that she has never heard any such speculation before, Tauscher responded, "If Nancy Pelosi hasn't heard this rumor, then she's the only one in California politics who hasn't."

In fact, interviews with Members of the delegation revealed that not all were familiar with the rumors. But Burton's alleged plans did appear to have wide currency among those Members who keep a careful eye on state politics and redistricting.

"I've heard those rumors," said Rep. Cal Dooley (Calif.), a key centrist who remains a holdout in the contest. "And if they're true, it's totally inappropriate and irresponsible."

Rep. Howard Berman (Calif.), a Pelosi backer who is active in plotting delegation strategy on redistricting, also indicated he was aware of the talk, but refused to comment beyond saying, "There is nothing I can say about this that will help me achieve what I want to achieve" in redistricting.

Asked whether he believed the rumors of Burton's plans were serious, Berman responded, "We'll see in September" - an apparent reference to when the new California map will take shape. The 54-Member delegation is getting one more seat in the House.

Though he evidently intended to bury the rumors Burton nonetheless made little effort to disguise his contempt for Tauscher, suggesting that she was inviting trouble by voicing her concerns.

"The best way to get a problem with me is to run crying to the press," Burton said gruffly.

Burton described his close relationship with each of the Members in the Bay Area delegation, but pointedly excluded Tauscher from the list, concluding, "Ellen is not one to determine where her district would be."

Some Members in Hoyer's camp have seized on the rumors to underscore their longstanding contention that Pelosi's support is "loose" and that her campaign uses implicit and explicit intimidation to pick up pledges of public support - a charge for which there is scant evidence.

Nonetheless, one Hoyer Whip who is particularly influential in the Caucus claimed that he knew of "at least" three Members of the California delegation who had signed letters in support of Pelosi but planned to vote for Hoyer.

The Whip suggested that those Members and others around the Caucus signed the letters in order to avoid precisely the kind of situation that Tauscher has encountered.

"It's an unnecessary political headache," the Member said, referring to the cost of not signing. "So you sign the letter, and then you vote basically the way you want."

With a district that already has a Republican majority, Tauscher is regarded as perhaps the most vulnerable Democrat in California.

As the top Democrat in the state Senate, Burton is considered by many to be the second-most-powerful Democrat in the state, after Gov. Gray Davis, and a politician with a long memory.

California Members and aides expressed doubt that Burton would take any step that could potentially harm the party's prospects in Congress. But, said one senior delegation aide, "He is also one who has never been shy about using what power he has to achieve the goals he needs achieved."

Tauscher said she had not acted previously on the rumors because she expected them to go away eventually. However, she said she concluded that she had to come forward after unidentified participants in a meeting with Burton last week told her camp afterward that Burton explicitly threatened to move Democrats out of her district because of her support for Hoyer.

"What's particularly stunning is that not only haven't the threats abated, they've only gotten stronger as [redistricting] gets closer," Tauscher said.

She said the talk of her predicament has grown so rife in Sacramento that Republicans have begun to signal that she is back on their target list, after initially assuming her district would be made safe in redistricting.

A Hoyer spokeswoman issued a brief statement: "Congressman Hoyer believes it would be counterproductive for us to do anything which would undermine the re-election of any of our Democrats."

Los Angeles Times
Redistricting Fuels Partisan Frenzy Government: The political future of many lawmakers will be reshaped along with their districts.
By Mark Z. Barabak
July 25, 2001

From Sacramento to Albany, the nation's political future is quietly taking shape in the legislative back rooms of America.

Armed with the latest technology and elbowing for even the smallest partisan advantage, state lawmakers and their number-crunching deputies are toiling to redraw the nation's congressional and legislative maps, a technical exercise known as redistricting.

The process is numbingly arcane. The stakes are huge. The outcome will chart the course of campaigns for a decade or more, starting in 2002. Careers will be made, ambitions thwarted. Control of the House of Representatives, now Republican by a hair, could be affected by a jot here or a squiggle there.

"You can change candidates. You can change messages. You can change the amount of money you spend" on a campaign, said Tom Hofeller, one of the Republican Party's chief redistricting strategists. But for 10 years, "the political boundaries [stay] constant."

Most analysts foresee a slight GOP edge once the process is completed next spring, as Republican gains in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio are offset by losses in California, Georgia and a handful of other states.

The wild card is Texas, where the courts will likely end up drawing the boundaries. Experts say Republicans could pick up anywhere from zero to seven seats in President Bush's home state, depending on what judges decide. That could be the difference between the big gains Republicans forecast nationally and the wash that Democrats predict.

If there is one certainty surrounding a process otherwise rife with uncertainty, it is that most--if not all--of the remap plans will provoke some sort of court fight.

"Anybody can file a lawsuit in America, and redistricting will prove that," said Don McGahn, an attorney for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

California Makes Gain in House

In California, redistricting has been largely set aside as lawmakers focused on the electricity crisis and state budget impasse.

While input has been solicited at a series of public hearings and various proposals are circulating, the real work will be completed behind closed doors during a few frenzied weeks starting in late August, when lawmakers return from their summer break. The job must be completed by Sept. 14, when the legislative session ends.

California is gaining one House seat as a result of population shifts over the last decade, raising its biggest-in-the-nation delegation to 53 members. Currently Democrats outnumber Republicans, 32 to 20.

Several involved in the line-drawing process say lawmakers are discussing a plan to protect most incumbents and give Democrats the state's extra congressional seat. But the storm surrounding Rep. Gary A. Condit of Ceres has complicated things; his once-safe Democratic seat is no longer so.

Democrats, who control redistricting in California, may end up going after several GOP incumbents in hopes of offsetting seats lost elsewhere across the country.

"Obviously there will be some pressure to stretch the number" of targeted Republicans, said a Democratic strategist involved in the remap process.

As complex as redistricting is, certain fundamentals apply.

All 50 states are granted one House seat. The other 385 are divided by population. The Constitution requires a national head count every 10 years to adjust the allotment of seats to reflect population changes. The theoretical notion is that every member of Congress should represent roughly the same number of people. (Each state has two U.S. senators, regardless of population.)

As a result of last year's census, 12 House seats are shifting among 18 states. The big losers are the Northeast and Midwest, where New York and Pennsylvania each lost two seats. Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana also lost a seat apiece.

The winners are largely the Sun Belt states that saw large population gains over the last 10 years. Florida, Texas, Georgia and Arizona picked up two seats each. Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado and California gained a seat apiece.

Hostile Shifts in Friendly Districts

Now it is up to state lawmakers to redraw congressional and legislative boundaries to account for the flux, a power that can summon the best and worst of human nature: loyalty, vengeance, generosity and opportunism.

Both major parties hope to exploit the process to their greatest advantage. That means drawing as many friendly districts--ones packed with reliably supportive voters--as reasonably possible.

Certain legal standards govern the exercise, aiming to protect minority interests and guard against the most outlandish acts of partisanship. But even so, lawmakers are fairly free to undermine the other party by redrawing districts to be as hostile to their incumbents as possible. In some cases, they may erase a House member's home turf altogether.

Both things happened in Michigan this year, where Rep. David E. Bonior--the No. 2 man in the Democratic leadership--opted to run for governor after being shoved into a heavily Republican district under a plan crafted by GOP lawmakers.

Separately, the durable Rep. John D. Dingell was thrown into a Detroit-area district with a fellow Democrat, Rep. Lynn N. Rivers, which will effectively eliminate one or the other from office. Dingell is the longest-serving member in the House of Representatives, first elected in 1955.

Angry Democrats sputtered about a "betrayal of the Michigan people." But their best hope may be trying to avenge the losses elsewhere.

Overall, Democrats hope to come out even in redistricting nationwide. Strategists are banking on the fact that the party in the White House almost always loses seats in the midterm elections, which is why the GOP is hoping to shore up its prospects in 2002 with a more favorably drawn map. A loss of just six seats would cost Republicans control of the House.

Yet while the imperative is the same everywhere--grab all the seats you can--the redistricting process varies from state to state.

Seven have just a single congressional seat, meaning no adjustments are required. In six others, independent overseers handle the redrawing of lines.

In most of the rest, different parties control either one legislative chamber or the governor's office, resulting in effective veto power over the most egregious partisan mischief.

The major exceptions are California, Georgia, Maryland and North Carolina--where Democrats are in control--and Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio--where Republicans are in charge.

Republicans in Better Position This Time

From the national perspective, Republicans enter this round of redistricting far better off than 10 years ago.

GOP governors outnumber Democrats, 29 to 19. Republicans control 18 state legislatures, compared with 16 for Democrats.

Seen another way, Democrats the last time had uncontested power over line drawing in 172 congressional districts across the country, compared with just five for Republicans. This time, the number is more even, with Democrats holding functional control over 135 seats and Republicans, 98.

But the biggest change, of course, is the rough parity of the two parties on Capitol Hill. "With a close House," said the GOP's Hofeller, redistricting "is not an academic matter."

Ten years ago, Democrats had a 100-seat majority as map-making got underway. But the GOP took control of the House in a 1994 landslide, in part because Democrats bungled redistricting.

Party leaders in Georgia, for instance, set out to eliminate nemesis Newt Gingrich by forcing the GOP incumbent to run in a newly drawn district packed with Democrats. In the process, however, a number of Democratic incumbents had their districts weakened.

The upshot: Democrats lost several seats in Georgia and Gingrich, who survived, became House speaker after the Republican takeover.

Democrats "now understand it's very important we work together as a group," said Rep. Martin Frost of Texas, the head of IMPAC 2000, which is coordinating the party's national redistricting strategy. "We've seen what happens when we don't."

Still, strategists in both parties struggle against attitudes that can best be described as "me first, party second." That is because, for all the focus on the big picture, redistricting at heart is a deeply personal matter for members of Congress. For some, it even becomes a matter of political life or death.

House members used to being on the receiving end of blandishments suddenly find themselves courting the favor of home-state legislators, who have their own self-interests--perhaps a future seat in Congress--to consider.

Some vulnerable incumbents count on old friendships to see them safely through. Others curry favor with campaign contributions. In New York, which is losing two seats, Democratic Reps. Gary L. Ackerman and Maurice D. Hinchey have hired lobbyists to plead their cases in Albany, the capital.

Improbably enough, Rep. Thomas M. Davis (R-Va.), the head of the GOP's national redistricting efforts, has even had opposition lawmakers plead their cases to him.

"I've had Democrats come up to me saying, 'I'm being thrown in with another Democrat. Can you help me?' Or, 'I just bought a house and plan to retire in Washington. Can you help me?' "

But business is business, Davis said. "This is very hardball inside politics. It's all partisan. Nothing personal."

Los Angeles Times
Democrats Rule the Redistricting Roost in California Politics: The GOP holds no majority in the Legislature. But kicking them while they're down could backfire.
By Mark Z. Barabak
July 25, 2001

For California's battered Republican Party, good news is a relative thing. And when it comes to redistricting, the best news is that things can't get much worse.

In gaining seats in the last several elections, Democrats have knocked just about all the vulnerable GOP incumbents out of Washington and Sacramento.

The Democrats now enjoy virtually unfettered control of the process to remap the state's congressional and legislative lines: For the first time in nearly 20 years, the same party holds both the Legislature and the governorship. So they might be tempted to try to pad their majorities by drawing the maximum number of Democratic seats possible, giving them a shot at a veto-proof two-thirds super-majority in both houses of the state Legislature. But doing so could put some of their own incumbents at risk. "It becomes a zero-sum game," said Tim Hodson, director of the Center for California Studies at Cal State Sacramento.

'Only a Finite Number of Democrats'

"There's only a finite number of Democrats, and if you divide them too thinly, you may pick up extra seats, but suddenly you've got a number of marginal seats that in a bad year can be lost."

Democrats now control the Assembly, 50 to 30, and the state Senate, 26 to 14. They hold a 32-20 margin in the congressional delegation, with California gaining a seat next year.

At one time, Democrats spoke of gaining half a dozen or more California congressional seats in 2002, enough to almost single-handedly win back control of the House of Representatives. But now party strategists expect a more modest pickup, topping out around three seats.

One problem is the scandal surrounding Democratic Rep. Gary A. Condit of Ceres, which robs his party of what has been a safe seat in the Central Valley.

Another problem is how to deal with the party's restive ethnic constituencies. Democrats are facing pressure both to protect California's few remaining black legislators and to expand the ranks of Latino lawmakers to reflect Latinos' explosive population growth over the last decade.

Much of that growth occurred in the South-Central Los Angeles area, long the hub of black political power in California.

Last week a pair of Latino advocacy groups presented the Legislature with a plan to create several congressional districts with heavily Latino populations. The plan would also protect the state's historically African American congressional districts.

"The primary source of growth in California was in the Latino community," said Steve Reyes, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which helped draft the proposal. "We want to make sure that any plan adopted by the Legislature does reflect that voice."

But Democratic leaders in Sacramento and Washington have made it clear that their priority will be protection of the party's sitting lawmakers, even at the expense of increased Latino representation.

GOP Inclined to Back Incumbent Protection

Republicans, struggling to keep a California toehold, are inclined to go along with such an incumbent protection plan, insiders say. The party has all but conceded to Democrats the one new congressional seat.

Approval of the new congressional map is up to state legislators, who must finish the job by the time their session ends in mid-September. Though Democrats have a solid majority in both the Assembly and state Senate, party strategists would like to secure passage of the map on a two-thirds vote, a margin that would eliminate the chance of a ballot measure next year challenging the remap plan. That two-thirds vote would require at least some Republican support.

One GOP strategist involved in talks with Democrats said his party has a modest bottom line, given its poor bargaining position: "The plan hopefully won't leave us worse off than we are now and perhaps give us a chance to pick up some seats over the next decade."

Indeed, the greatest conflicts may arise between Democrats in Washington and those in Sacramento, who face term limits and may be eyeing the next rung up the job ladder.

"Why should a termed-out legislator buy a deal that's been cooked up by a bunch of congressmen when that termed-out legislator might very well have an interest in going to Congress?" asked Tony Quinn, a GOP expert on redistricting.

Drawing additional Democratic seats might be one way to alleviate some of the intramural tensions, giving eager aspirants more career opportunities outside Sacramento.

Among GOP lawmakers, Reps. Doug Ose of Sacramento, Richard W. Pombo of Tracy and Stephen Horn of Long Beach are seen as the most vulnerable to Democratic map-makers. Instead of taking Democrats from Condit's district, analysts say, strategists might instead draw them off from Rep. Robert T. Matsui of Sacramento, who probably could spare the votes and still win easily.

At the same time, Democrats hope to shore up some of the party's shakier congressional incumbents, among them Ellen O. Tauscher of Alamo, Lois Capps of Santa Barbara, Adam B. Schiff of Burbank and Jane Harman of Redondo Beach. That could mean breaking up or reconfiguring the districts of Republicans Horn, Pombo, Elton Gallegly of Simi Valley, David Dreier of San Dimas and Gary G. Miller of Diamond Bar.

As for redistricting of state legislative districts, both parties appear inclined to adopt a plan to protect most incumbents in the Assembly and Senate. Given Gov. Gray Davis' tense relations with fellow Democrats, political advisors say, there is little incentive to push for a two-thirds majority that would give legislators the power to override a gubernatorial veto.

Once more the consideration is how much the party can gain before it overreaches and endangers its incumbents.

As Cal State Sacramento's Hodson put it, "The strategic dilemma for the Democratic leadership in the Legislature is knowing when to say no."

Districts to Watch

Some key California congressional districts to watch:


Sacramento Republican Doug Ose could be a prime Democratic target. His current district has a 42% to 39% Democratic edge.


Democrats may drain off some of Sacramento Democrat Robert T. Matsui's partisan supporters to weaken Republican neighbors Doug Ose or Richard W. Pombo. Matsui has plenty to spare, with a 53% to 29% Democratic edge in his district.


Democrats hope to shore up Alamo Democrat Ellen O. Tauscher. Her district is split 42% Democrat, 40% Republican. Tauscher harbors statewide ambitions.


Democrats would like to oust Tracy Republican Richard W. Pombo in a district where registration is split 45% Democrat to 43% Republican. But they may need to place heavily Democratic Stockton elsewhere to bolster the party in the Central Valley.


Rep. Gary A. Condit of Ceres used to be so safe Democrats figured they could siphon off votes to undermine Republicans Doug Ose or Richard W. Pombo. No more. Democrats will have to bolster this district to keep it in party hands. Registration: 46% Democrat, 39% Republican.


If the two major parties fail to sign off on an incumbent-protection plan, Democrats may target Rep. Elton Gallegly of Simi Valley by making this marginal district (41% Democratic, 40% Republican) more Democratic. The same could happen to Los Angeles-area Republicans David Dreier of San Dimas and Gary G. Miller of Diamond Bar, who may have their districts collapsed or carved up.


Long Beach Republican Stephen Horn is a prime Democratic target, as strategists consider dismantling his tossup district (49% Democratic, 48% Republican) to strengthen neighboring Democrats, including Jane Harman of Redondo Beach.


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