Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Redistricting Update: The Democrat Party Expands Its Statewide Control

Karen Brooks
I, for one, was hopeful that a citizen commission would fairly dole out districts and make significant improvements to break up this one-party controlled state. Now that the commission’s work is done and they have submitted the maps to the Secretary of State, I fear we’re going to miss the “good ole days” of gerrymandered districts drawn by our Legislature.

“Be careful what you wish for,” echoes in my head. In 2008, voters thought we were taking away the Legislature’s responsibility of redistricting and placing it in the hands of fourteen non-partisan, neutral voters. Unfortunately, we’re on the politically correct left coast, so the selection process can’t help but be flawed. Last year, a special panel was convened to narrow an applicant pool to about 60, with our Legislature eliminating about a third of those applicants before the State Auditor “randomly” picked the final eight, and then those eight picked the final six.

This experiment, in hindsight, has some fatal flaws. The process focused too heavily on minority, non-engaged (in politics) applicants at the expense of the most qualified people. The second fatal flaw is that the commission wanted specific citizen input, namely the “communities of interest.” They were looking for minority ethnic communities, not necessarily economic or social or even geographic communities. They were not looking at voter registration or voter turn-out either. And finally, the party in control controls everything in this state.

The commission has been focusing on race and, while this is an important factor, it shouldn’t be the determining factor in legislative districts. This factor alone could be grounds for a challenge. States are allowed to have their own guidelines for redistricting, but they must consider a handful of federal guidelines:

◼ Districts must be relatively the same size.
◼ There cannot be racial gerrymandering.
◼ Districts cannot dilute the minority vote.

The districts must take into account certain criteria, including political subdivision lines, compactness, contiguity, and communities of interest.

To challenge the new district maps there are two remedies:
◼ Within 45 days of final certification of the maps,
any registered California voter may file a challenge
to the final maps in the California Supreme Court.
The 45-day period ends on September 29th.
◼ Within 90 days of the final certification of the maps,
a referendum petition may be filed regarding any map
or portion of a map. The 90-day period to request a title
and summary from the Attorney General, collect the
required voter signatures, and file the petitions with
county elections officials ends on November 13, 2011.

For more information on the referendum process, visit

The final maps for the Northcoast region are not good. The Congressional District (CD02) has captured the entire coast from the Golden Gate Bridge to Oregon, including Trinity County and excluding Santa Rosa. In doing so, it merges with Marin and retiring progressive Representative Lynn Woolsey’s district. Mike Thompson will run in his new, home-area district which leaves an open seat here. 49.9% Democrat, 22.75% Republican, and 21.21% Decline To State.

To date, three candidates have announced running. One is Assemblyman Jared Huffman, an environmental attorney from Marin. Norman Solomon, a progressive author/activist from Marin who Sean Penn recently stumped for. The third candidate to announce is Susan Adams, a Marin County supervisor and nurse. So far, Jared Huffman is the favorite, having raised twice that of Solomon. You can pretty much bet that our Representative will be a progressive from Marin and that county will have its way with the entire district.

The Assembly District (AD02) is very similar to the CD02 but doesn’t go farther south than Hwy 12 in Santa Rosa. Two Democrat Assemblymen are now in this district, career-politician Wes Chesbro and newcomer Michael Allen. The district now leaves out Lake County and extends further south. Eureka is no longer the largest city in the district. 46.45% Democrat, 25.73% Republican, and 20.78% Declined To State.

The State Senate seat (SD02) starts at the Golden Gate Bridge and goes along the coast to Oregon. It also includes Lake and Trinity County, with Santa Rosa carved out. Del Norte and Trinity County are not happy about losing Doug LaMalfa for Noreen Evans. The California Republican Party is expected to challenge the Senate redistricting either by referendum or in the courts. 49.73% Democrat, 23.23% Republican, and 21.02% Decline To State.

As a disclaimer, the maps are not very detailed so it is hard to see exactly where the edges of the districts are, which is very frustrating for those living on that edge.

If you would like to see for yourself go to or

With all this bad news there has to be something positive for us to rally behind. Now more than ever we need an active, engaged, and growing Republican Women Federated in our communities. Now more than ever we need to be informed, involved and inspired. I know RWF is up for the challenge. We definitely have our work cut out for us!

Karen Brooks