Should the new lines for the 80 assembly districts released
by the Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) become final on August 15 –
meaning there are no successful legal challenges or referendum that could
require the state Supreme Court to draw the lines – following are my early
picks as to where the action will be in November 2012 (Part Two will cover
state senate and congressional races)

Those who were hoping that lines drawn by the CRC, rather
than politicians, would significantly boost the number of competitive races in
2012 will be sorely disappointed. It didn’t happen.

Here are the assembly districts that early handicappers are
currently looking at as being competitive, with the more likely targets being
listed first.

Assembly District
– OPEN SEAT (L.A. County South Bay): Nearly 65% of this
new district overlaps the old district that Democrat Betsy Butler was elected to in 2010. But the CRC placed her Marina
del Rey residence into the new 62nd A.D., pairing her with Dem. Asm.
Steven Bradford. But Butler is expected to run in the new Santa Monica-based 50th
District.  Placing the very Republican
Palos Verdes Peninsula into the district gives Republicans their best chance to
pick up a previously safe Democratic district. 
Whitman outpolled Brown 48% – 46%, while the GOP assembly candidates
captured 51%.  This will be a top target
for Republicans.

Assembly District
– B. BERRYHILL, Rep. (Merced): Democrats were hopping to
target Berryhill in 2010, but were not able to recruit a strong candidate to
challenge him. Democrats had a narrow 43% -39% registration advantage in the
old district, but now have a 48% – 33% registration advantage. But these are
conservative Democrats and Brown was able to outpoll Whitman here by only two
point 47% -45%. This will be a top target for Democrats.

Assembly District
– OPEN SEAT (Kings County): The old 30th A.D.,
won by David Valadao (R) in 2010, was one of the state’s most competitive
assembly districts this past decade and over 83% of the old 30th AD
overlaps this new district. Valadao is giving up his assembly seat to run in an
overlapping congressional district (CD21), making this an open seat. Brown outpolled
Whitman 50% – 41%, while Carly Fiorina outpolled Barbara Boxer 48% – 42%.
Forty-nine percent of the district’s voters are Latino, so Republicans will
need to recruit a strong candidate if they hope to hold it.

Assembly District
– OPEN SEAT (East Sacramento County): No current
incumbent resides in this new Assembly district, though 53 percent of voters
reside in the old 5th District represented by Asm. Richard Pan (D)
and 40 percent reside in the old 10th District represented by Asm.
Alyson Huber (D), so one or both could move into this district. (Pan is
currently paired with Asm. Roger Dickinson AD7, which is a safe Democratic
seat.) This is a district that Fiorina carried 48% – 43%, while Brown outpolled
Whitman 50% – 43%. Not a safe seat for Democrats but Republicans would need to
recruit a very strong candidate to be competitive here.

Assembly District
– GORELL, Rep. (Ventura County/sliver of L.A. County): By
attaching heavily Latino Oxnard to the district, GOP registration dropped four
points, moving Gorell’s district from safe Republican to lean Republican.
Gorell is a strong candidate (and will likely be even stronger when he returns
from active duty in Afghanistan). There are going to be overlapping competitive
state senate and congressional races, which could impact the results in this

Assembly District
– OPEN SEAT (Redlands) Very similar to the old 63rd
District Mike Morrell was elected to last year but he will have to move to run
here. State Sen. Bob Dutton, who previously served one term in the assembly, is
looking to run here. The new district has a slight 40% – 38% registration
advantage and Fiorina outpolled Boxer in 2010, while Brown squeaked by Whitman
46% – 45%. Not a safe seat for Republicans, but Democrats would have to recruit
a very strong candidate to be competitive here.


In addition to the district mentioned above, there are nine
assembly districts in which the Republican registration is UNDER 20%, including
five that are under 15%. These districts have a high degree of probability that
the top two vote getters in the June 2012 Primary will both be Democrats and
they will have to battle it out again in November.

Somewhat surprising, it’s beginning to appear that the
top-two open primary may do more to change the culture in Sacramento than the
elimination of the partisan gerrymandering.

NEXT: State
senate and congressional races.