Redistricting and Rightwingers: Careful what you asked for

As the lines for Congress, state senate and state assembly are finalized as a result of the citizen’s commission established by Prop 11 and Prop 20, those who study the new districts can say they deliver exactly on the promise of Prop 11 and Prop 20 — namely, fewer safe seats for each party and more competitive seats.  

Prop 20, on the ballot in November, had strong conservative Republican support across the board from the California Republican Party, gubenatorial candidate Meg Whitman, endorsements from the most conservative newspapers in the state including the OC Register and San Diego Union Tribune, and the California Taxpayers Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. 

Not one single Union supported Prop 20, but a number of organizations associated with liberal causes and newspapers with liberal editorial boards tended to support redistricting.

The Orange County Register wrote of Prop 20: ”

Proposition 20 is an essential political reform in line with the desires of the voting public. We recommend a vote Nov. 2 in favor of Prop. 20, which would remove the power from members of Congress from California to draw their own legislative districts and place that responsibility in the hands of the state’s independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

The commission was created as a result of the passage of Prop. 11 in 2008, when voters decided, wisely, in our view, to end the practice of gerrymandering by state elected officials. Gerrymandering in this case involved legislators configuring their own legislative districts in ways that give them and/or their political party electoral advantage. If you looked at one of these maps, you would see odd shapes and contortions as legislators draw the lines around household voting preferences rather than communities.

This asinine process has entrenched incumbents, made political races less competitive and allowed politicians to essentially pick who gets to vote for them. If you look at a map of the way some of the districts are drawn, you can see how silly and how wildly abused this process had become.

With the passage of Prop. 11, the Redistricting Commission, which the initiative requires be seated by the end of this year, assumed that authority from state lawmakers and, hopefully, will redraw more competitive and contiguous districts, using data from the 2010 Census.

One shortcoming of Prop. 11 was that it applied only to state lawmakers and members of the state Board of Equalization, not federal ones, specifically the U.S. House of Representatives. Prop. 20 would correct that by taking the authority to pick their own districts from members of Congress and instead grant such power to the independent citizen commission. If you believe citizens should pick their representatives rather than politicians picking their voters, you should vote yes for Prop 20.

Voters should be careful not to confuse Prop. 20, which we view as the “good” redistricting proposition, with Prop. 27, the “bad” redistricting proposition. Prop. 27 would essentially undo the good work of 2008’s Prop. 11 for state offices, hamstring Prop. 20 for congressional offices and further entrench the power of politicians to pick their own districts. Prop. 27 would end the establishment of more balanced voting districts before they even are created.”

Now that the lines are drawn, Republicans are upset.  They lost big and they know it.

Steven Greenhut writes in this OC Register editorial:

After looking at the current redistricting process, and the new maps offered by a supposedly nonpartisan and fair-minded commission that is doing the bidding for left-wing and ethnic interest groups, I do have some happy news: The new maps – which almost certainly will ensure a two-thirds legislative voting majority for Democrats, who will be sure to raise taxes early and often – are likely to be challenged and, either way, won’t go into effect until at least 2012.

Facetiousness aside, the redistricting debacle spotlights the far-reaching tentacles of the political Left, the impotence of the Republican Party and the outlandish double-standards at work in the high-stakes game of Sacramento politics.

As former California Republican Party Chairman Shawn Steel put it, “The Democrats knew what they were doing, and Republicans were asleep at the switch.” He said the commission, comprised of Republicans and Democrats (and members of third parties), features ineffective and liberal Republican members and hyperpartisan Democrats, with the results strongly tilting the new seats in one direction.

Greenhut concludes his column with:“If Californians want to save their state, they need to directly take on the liberal interests that are ruining it. Otherwise, my good news about having time to find real estate in Nevada may turn out less than facetious.”

Flash Report publisher Jon Fleischman lamented the process supported by his party last fall in this post.

“I thought I would “step in” for just a few minutes to share some quick thoughts with regards to the “fine works” of the California Redistricting Commission, which is poised today to lock and load today on political boundaries that — well — screw the GOP.

It is so clear, in retrospect, that it is impossible to divorce politics from what is a fundamentally political process. Propositions 11 and 20 sought to do just that. It’s not clear to me whether we should have the line drawing to the politicians (a shout out to Steve Maviglio) or whether we should have just sent the line drawing to a panel of judges. One thing that is clear is that the convoluted process that was contained in these ballot measures, largely promoted (with the best of intentions, one can presume) by uber-wealthy county GOP official Charles Munger, Jr. (son of the billionaire business partner of Warren Buffet). I suppose there will be plenty of time to see what Dr. Frankenstein thinks about the fact that his monster is killing Republicans.

That having been said, the language of the ballot measure provides that tw0-thirds of the members of each political party on the Commission must vote to approve the final plans. It should be a no brainer for all five Republicans to vote no (on all of the plans, frankly) — after all, this plan screws Republicans.

That having been said, it seems that somehow (go figure) that the selection process for the Commission, while clearly placing a number of people on the Commission with liberal agendas — I can’t tell if there is one Republican on the Commission who didn’t vote for Barack Obama — or who even cares that these lines these are being asked to finalize today are terrible for their own party.

And with an update to the post filed, Fleischman wrote this: “So much for the GOP circling the wagons behind Props. 11 & 20. They’ve turned out to be a disaster. Commission has adopted these lines. Republicans can look the courts, and to referend the lines. Otherwise, there is no real path for the next decade to move the GOP significantly closer to majority status in Sacramento.”

To both Greenhut and Fleischman I say this; quit your bitching.  It’s bad enough that Republicans, with less than 30 percent voter registration in the state had an equal number of party members on the Redistricting Commission, but Prop 11 and Prop 20 were supported by the California GOP.  And what the commission’s work truly did was expose thhe fact that Gerrymandering protected Republican seats far more than it did Democratic seats.  So now, we’ll have more competitive elections which is exaclty what the people of California want.  And I suspect that the vast majority of California taxpayers are tired of the Republican minority hijacking the the state budget every year and playing into the disfunction these two often complain out.

So the Republicans are now suing to overturn the work of a commission that is the result of a ballot measure that they supported. I hate to break it to you guys, but California is a blue state that got bluer last election.  The Democrats are not out of step with voters — you are.  And so are the Republicans and Libertarians. 

All I can say gentlemen, if you don’t like the results of the commission’s work, might I suggest that move to Nevada Greenhut joked about can be accomplished from Orange County or Sacramento easily for the cost of a tank of gas and a moving van.  And don’t let the door hit you on the butt on the way out.

  2 comments for “Redistricting and Rightwingers: Careful what you asked for

  1. RHackett
    August 20, 2011 at 9:18 am

    And what the commission’s work truly did was expose thhe fact that Gerrymandering protected Republican seats far more than it did Democratic seats.

    A great point Dan. Watching folks like Greenhut and Fleischman scream like stuck pigs has been the best part of the redistricting process.

    They are both the epitome of what is wrong with the current GOP. Though I doubt either of them realize it since they maintain their popularity by being part of the screaming class.

  2. Howard be my name
    August 22, 2011 at 9:36 am

    I’m not convinced the official Reep apparatus supported Prop 11, though many Reeps did (AND many Dems, don’t forget). However, what galls me is that the Reeps apparently don’t understand that without the Commission they would have been in far worse shape. I saw maps of CA which would have made it possible to allow the Reeps only 9 members of Congress. I’m sure the same could have been done with the Assembly and State Senate.

    Both parties in CA are losing registration to DTS, but the Reeps are losing much more than the Dems. The problem is not the “impotence of the Republican Party,” as Greenhut puts it, but its extremism.

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