On July 10, the Citizens Redistricting
Commission released their first draft of the newly drawn lines for
congressional, state legislative and Board of Equalizations districts.
Not surprisingly, several incumbents
weren’t too please, particularly those who found themselves located in a new
district where one or more fellow incumbents also resided or, in the extreme,
no district to run in at all.
But aside from them, the loudest cries
came from Latino and Republican leaders … two groups that seldom agree on
To understand this, one has to first look
at the 2001 redistricting plan, a highly gerrymander plan drawn specifically to
protect the incumbents of both political parties.
At the beginning of the last decade, many
Republican incumbents found themselves in districts with a growing Latino
population, a voter group that was not then (nor now) voting Republican.
This required the 2001 mapmakers
responsible for redrawing the Republican-held districts to remove as many
Latino neighborhoods as possible from those districts and increase the number
of Republican leaning white neighborhoods.
Removing these Latino neighborhoods from
Republican-held district allowed the Democratic mapmakers to increase the
number of Latino seats in the state.
The new redistricting plan changed all
this. Now, Republican incumbents find themselves in a district that is no
longer lily white and, if they want to be reelected, will need to solicit the
votes of Latinos and other people of color.
And the Latino leadership finds a map
that was not drawn specifically to create the maximum number of Latino
districts and could end the careers of some noted Latino legislators.
The Commission is now holding hearings to
receive public input on the new lines and those who represent Latino and
Republican interests will be lobbying hard to make changes to those lines.
It will be interesting to watch how the Commission responds.
Commission will released their second draft of maps on July 3. Final maps must
be approved no later than August 15.