CA passes new maps for legislature, congress

The first voter-approved California Citizens Redistricting Commission finished its No. 1 job this morning and adopted new maps for Congress, state Assembly and Senate and the Board of Equalization.

The boundaries will be in effect for the next decade until the 2020 Census triggers a revision.

Passage was never really in question despite grumbling from a few corners.  The Several commissioners expressed frustration with some of the maps but conceded that wholesale perfection was unattainable in a state with so many competing interests.  (I confess, I couldn’t hear everything that was said. The webstream kept cutting out; perhaps the site was overtaxed.)

Click here to see the maps.

The commission’s vote clears the way for possible legal challenges, which would send the maps to the California Supreme Court. Opponents could also mount a signature drive and place the maps on the June 2012 ballot. The U.S. Department of Justice must also determine whether the maps comply with the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits the use of political district lines as a means of diluting the voting clout of minorities.

California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Becarro, in an opinion piece that ran in the Sacramento Bee on Sunday, spelled out what he views as a possible  challenge of the senate maps.

Commissioner Mike Ward, who voted no on the maps this morning, told CalWatchDog.com that he believed the group engaged in partisan gerrymandering and failed to follow federal law. Ward intends to deliver a full statement at noon today at the commission’s scheduled press conference in Sacramento, according to CalWatchDog.com.

Whether or not any of the critics mount a legal or ballot challenge remains an open question. Lawsuits cost a great deal of money and so do signature drives.









George Miller announces re-election campaign

After Pete Stark, Mike Honda and Barbara Lee did so yesterday, Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, announced his re-election bid today.

Miller, now the 7th Congressional District’s representative, will run in what will soon be called the 11th Congressional District, encompassing San Pablo, Richmond, El Cerrito, Kensington, a small part of Martinez south of Highway 4, Concord, Clayton, Pittsburg, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Danville, Blackhawk-Camino Tassajara, Alamo, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, and part of Antioch.

“I was born and raised in Contra Costa County and have lived here my whole life,” Miller said in his news release. “Some parts of this district I already represent and others I have previously represented. I love this community and believe that there is so much we can do together to create jobs at home, strengthen our local economy, improve our public education system, and make our communities more livable. I appreciate the support this community has shown for me and the job I am doing in Congress, and I look forward to continuing our strong relationship.”


Barbara Lee announces re-election bid, too

Not only did Pete Stark and Mike Honda announce their congressional re-election campaigns yesterday, but Barbara Lee did, too.

Less drama there – Lee’s district, although changing in number from 9th to 13th (as Stark goes from 13th to 15th and Honda goes from 15th to 17th) – will still contain her liberal strongholds of Oakland and Berkeley, where nobody would have much change of unseating her. The newly redrawn district also includes Alameda (which Lee represented before the 2001 redistricting), Albany, Emeryville, Piedmont and San Leandro.

“I have had the privilege of representing most of this district for over thirteen years in Congress, and had the honor of serving both Alameda briefly in Congress and for six years in the California Legislature,” Lee said in a news release yesterday. “Of course, I have long worked with my colleague, Congressman Pete Stark, to support San Leandro on federal matters that impact our region.”

“This district is one of the most diverse, vibrant and enlightened districts in the country and I’m looking forward to continuing to reach out and connect with people from all over the district to get their insight and to talk about how it would be my honor to stand and fight for them in Congress to create jobs and jump start our economy, build healthy communities, and ensure a more just and peaceful world.”


McNerney launches re-election campaign

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton

On the same day the independent “citizen” mapping commission released final congressional and legislative map boundaries, Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, launched his re-election campaign.

Under new boundaries set for adoption in August, McNerney will run in a seat that largely overlaps by two-thirds his current district. The new 9th District will include the bulk of San Joaquin County and stretch into eastern Contra Costa County communities of Oakley, Brentwood, Discovery Bay and portions of Antioch. He loses the Tri- and San Ramon valleys to neighboring districts.

McNerney doesn’t live in the new district but the law doesn’t require it.

Here’s what the congressman said:


Stockton, CA – Congressman Jerry McNerney today launched his re-election campaign for the San Joaquin County and East Contra Costa County congressional district.  Congressman McNerney has represented San Joaquin County and East Contra Costa County for almost 5 years.

“I’m proud and honored to launch my re-election campaign for the San Joaquin County/East Contra Costa district,” said Rep. McNerney.  “This area has a resilient spirit, a strong sense of community and a great future ahead.  I’m deeply committed to this area and excited to continue working for San Joaquin and East Contra Costa Counties.”

Congressman McNerney currently represents a majority of the voters in the San Joaquin County/East Contra Costa County congressional district and is the incumbent Member of Congress for the area.

“After spending so much time in San Joaquin County, it truly is my home,” continued Rep. McNerney.  “That’s why I’m planning to move my residence to San Joaquin County and put down even more roots in this community.  I’m going to continue to fight for San Joaquin County and East Contra Costa County.”

During his time as the representative for this area, Congressman McNerney led the effort to bring a new veterans medical facility and nursing home to San Joaquin County, wrote a new law to improve treatment for service members suffering from traumatic brain injuries, and helped secure millions of dollars in funding for local infrastructure projects, including for the Port of Stockton and Highway 4 in Brentwood.

Congressman McNerney also held countless public meetings in cities throughout San Joaquin County and East Contra Costa County.  He has made accessibility to the people he represents a top priority and travels home to California from Washington D.C. nearly every weekend.


Redistricting scholar talks competitiveness

Public Policy Institute of California fellow Eric McGhee spoke Thursday night to the East Bay chapter of the League of California cities about the potential impacts of independent redistricting.

McGhee’s most interesting points centered around how to measure the success of the new maps in terms of creating more competitive districts winnable by either party.

Watch the video below. A link to McGhee’s slideshow is also below.



Contra Costa at impasse over district maps

Without the necessary three votes to make a final selection, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors this afternoon punted its decision over new political districts to the end of the month.

The five supervisors will take up the matter again on July 26 at 10:30 a.m. (Click here for Contra Costa’s redistricting web site and links to all the various maps and data.)

Frustration was evident as the supervisors each reiterated the merits of his or her preferred map but repeatedly failed to come up with that third and majority vote.  Each views the county through a different political and personal lens, and they have yet to find middle ground.

Supervisors Federal Glover and John Gioia agree. The other three supervisors (Gayle Uilkema, Mary Nejedly Piepho and Karen Mitchoff) dislike the men’s map but don’t support each other’s maps, either.

Four maps remain on the table for debate although any could change at any time.

Click here for Piepho’s preferred map (Proposal 15.)

Here’s the first map proposed by Glover and Gioia (Proposal 17.)

Here are the men’s second and revised map (Proposal 17D) they submitted earlier today.

And here is what Mitchoff has submitted (Proposal 16.)

Broadly speaking, Glover and Gioia want to create a map based on regional subdivisions and reverse the 2001 map under which East Contra Costa County was carved into two districts. They submitted two maps, (Proposal 17 and Proposal 17D) each slightly adjusted in an attempt to win a third vote. But one of their maps slices a small sliver of Concord into a second district, while both maps splits Pinole, Walnut Creek and Antioch and the percentage population spread among the districts is 7.95 to 8.76 points. The law requires the county to draw new districts of equal population or as near as possible to equal; deviations have withstood court challenges but must be justified.

Their map most closely matches the option drawn by a volunteer citizen’s task force, or Concept 6, as it was originally labeled. Much of the audience Tuesday endorsed this version, holding up signed and testifying in its favor.

Piepho’s submission appears designed to inspire compromise rather than survive outright adoption. It draws her out of Walnut Creek, her prime political support base, and instead shifts it entirely into Uilkema’s district. It splits no cities and has a 5.39 percentage point population spread. But it does split Bay Point and Pittsburg, communities with longstanding ties.

Mitchoff’s map shifts Glover’s district westward, as he wanted, and allows Piepho to keep portions of Walnut Creek. But it splits Antioch and Walnut Creek. It has a 6.86 percentage point population spread.

In the next two weeks, the pressure will be on these supervisors to cut a deal, end the political suspense and allow the 2012 election to official begin. Uilkema, Glover and Piepho are up for re-election and at least four possible challengers were in the audience Tuesday and testified.

The question is whether a majority of the board will simply ram a map down the throats of their colleagues and let the chips fall where they will … or will they unanimously choke down a compromise and avert open warfare.

My money is on the latter although the former would be a lot more fun to write about.