My friend, colleague and former boss Doug Jeffe opines in the Friday Fox and Hounds that the Republicans should be reasonable on the tax vote because this may be the last time they have one third in the legislature, and thus the ability to affect policy. Doug seems to think the Democrats are pretty much guaranteed to increase their numbers through redistricting.
While it is certainly possible that the Republicans could blow their one third of the legislature (they might, for example, hire Mike Murphy, late of the Whitman campaign, as their chief strategist), Doug would do well to remember Lincoln’s sage advice: the hen is the wisest of all creatures for it does not cackle until the egg is laid.
Now that we have the final redistricting population figures, and in fact this egg might not be laid at all. Given that the Citizens Redistricting Commission will draw the lines and they will have to follow strict criteria, here’s what we know for sure:
• The San Francisco Bay Area must lose one safe Democratic Assembly seat because of slow population growth. That seat will show up as a marginal district somewhere in the Central Valley where the population has gone.
• Los Angeles came in much below the projected populations and is about a million people short of the number it needs to keep all its legislative districts. That means two safe Democratic Assembly seats and one safe Democratic Senate seat will shift to the Inland Empire. Because of Latino voting growth in the Inland Empire, they could emerge as Democratic leaning seats, but there is no guarantee these will be Democratic districts.
Republicans are endangered on the edges of Los Angeles County where they have enjoyed gerrymandered districts for a decade, but virtually all Republicans seats are overpopulated and Democratic seats under populated. That in itself will help Republicans hold the numbers they have today.
Finally, Doug seems to think voters will blame Republicans if the taxes fail and the budget must be cut further. Yet when in the course of human events has anyone lost an election for not forcing a $1,000 per family tax increase on the people? Like never.
Democrats can go to the polls on a majority vote special election – they just don’t want to. They can also put a tax increase on the ballot via an initiative, but they do not want that either. They are pressuring Republicans to help them solve a political problem, not a fiscal problem.