Redistricting Commission Finalized

Well, here we go. The Redistricting Commission chose its final members from among the remaining applicant pool. The result is a commission that is sort of diverse and sort of represents the regions of the state, as the Sacramento Bee reports:

After selection of the final six, the panel consists of four Asian Americans, three Caucasians, three Hispanics or Latinos, two African Americans, one Pacific Islander and one American Indian.

Four are from Los Angeles County, with one apiece from San Francisco, Yolo, San Diego, Alameda, Santa Cruz, Orange, Santa Clara, Ventura, Riverside and San Joaquin counties.

The Central Valley has only two representatives on the commission, and one of them – Michelle DiGiulio-Matz – was the subject of a motion for removal yesterday, as part of an effort to include Paul McKaskle of Berkeley, who was the chief adviser to the California Supreme Court when the court drew the lines after the 1970 and 1990 censuses. DiGiulio-Matz was kept because the rest of the commission realized cutting the Valley out any further would be a real disaster.

As Dan Walters writes, that left Democrat Maria Blanco as the only commission member with redistricting experience. Having Blanco on the commission is a real victory for progressives – Blanco, who currently heads UC Berkeley law school’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity & Diversity, was once senior counsel at MALDEF and has extensive experience with redistricting issues.

Walters didn’t seem too happy with Blanco being on the commission, calling her “scarcely a neutral in California redistricting wars.” But what does that mean, exactly? Blanco’s emphasis would likely be on ensuring new districts are drawn to ensure fair representation for all Californians, especially communities of color. There’s no reason to believe she’d be a partisan hack; she does not strike me as someone who believes her job is to do the Democratic Party’s bidding. Her presence on the commission is one of the few good things about this otherwise absurd exercise.

And let’s have no doubt that it is absurd. Republicans have won the biggest victory of all, getting an equal representation that they simply do not deserve and have not earned. If the commission’s composition were reflective of the state’s registration numbers, Republicans would have fewer seats than Democrats.

It’s still far from clear that this commission was even necessary – while some districts will change their shape, the overall outcomes will be broadly similar, with Democrats winning and Republicans losing. It is possible that some Republican extremists will find their seats less safe than before, but because of the dynamics within that party, it’s unlikely that it would moderate them in any meaningful way. The commission’s first proposal is due in August 2011 and the final proposal in December 2011, so we’ll see what comes of this.

17 thoughts on “Redistricting Commission Finalized”

  1.   Which is what the Republicans were fighting.  If this commission had gone into effect in the 1980’s, the legislature would have gone Republican.  If Wilson hadn’t

    gone after Mexicans in 1994 and instead done the Bush/Texas co-optation route, the legislature would have remained competitive in the 1990’s.  By the 2000’s, Republicans were an endangered species.

     Now, in a surge year (2012?), Democrats have a chance to get 2/3rds in the legislature, which a legislative redistricting might not have provided an opportunity for (see 2001). First order of business should be reigning in the regressive sales tax and extending it to services, which is where the affluent spend a lot of

    their money.

  2. Obstruct, delay, obfuscate, undermine, change the subject, move the goalposts, then delay some more, then attack the process, then delay some more, obstruct again.

    This is a description of the Republicans in the 111th Congress and also my prescription for what Dems should do to this illegitimate commission.

  3. During the last reapportionment, Republican legislators and Democractic legislators came to an agreement that created big Republican districts for the Republicans and big Democratic districts for the Democrats.  All of the legislators wanted one thing and one thing only: safe districts.  

    Why would any politician want a district where they might have to campaign?  Campaigning is such a bother.  You have to like meet people and explain your voting record and … the whole thing is just disgusting.

    So the purpose of this commission is NOT to be ethnically or politically diverse.  This commission only has to be one thing: not the legislature.  I think they did that and this reapportionment is destined to be more successful than the last one.  

    Of course, not everyone will get competitive districts because liberals tend to live on the coast and conservatives elsewhere.  However, there now exists the possibility of some competitive districts.  That’s a win.

  4. as the only guy familiar with the sacramento area, where new lines will have the greatest possible impact on partisan balance, at least at the congressional level. as a liberal republican-turned-independent considered to be on the “progressive” side of davis city council politics (whatever that means), he’ll probably represent the “independent” view fairly well.

    should be interesting.

  5. Asians end up being over-represented on the commission.  I’m going to guess that nobody saw that coming.

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