California Legislative Redistricting Gets Personal.
Under California’s new Legislative Redistricting Commission rules the 60 semi-finalists were submitted to the Legislative leadership and between the four Democrat and Republican leaders they have 24 peremptory challenges to the list and can knock off those they fear the most.
The Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert Blog says those long knives have been drawn and the list of finalists reduced down to 36 evenly divided between Democrats, Republicans and Independents or other minor parties.
But the process is far from over. Completing the panel requires culling the 36 down to 14 as follows: The state auditor randomly picks eight names from the 36 finalists remaining allocated three Democrats, three Republicans and two independents or minor party members. Those eight will then select six more members from the remaining list by December 31st to complete the panel of 14 out of the original 31,000 applicants.
The 14-member California Redistricting Commission by law must be composed of five Democrats, five Republicans and four independents or minor party registrants. It is supposed to be balanced by gender, ethnicity and region.
Why the arcane selection process?
Redistricting is a once every ten-year process following each census. It matters because the legislative district boundaries have traditionally been drawn by the State Legislature and, guess what, few of the districts were ever competitive. The members simply gerrymander the boundaries to assure safe elections for themselves and their compatriots.
This new independent redistricting commission is different and not only strips the Legislature of its ability to gerrymander the district lines but by approving Proposition 20 the voters also gave the new commission power over Congressional district boundaries including any new districts California may win after the census. So add it all up and you have:
- 80 Assembly districts,
- 40 Senate districts,
- 4 Board of Equalization districts and
- 53 Congressional districts to decide upon.
Do you see why this is bad news for incumbents?
The idea of genuinely competitive races is a nightmare for professional politicians especially with the cellar-level approval ratings of Congress and the State Legislature. It will take nine of fourteen votes on the commission to pass any plan.
Let the food fights begin.