A new law setting up a redistricting commission in Los Angeles County is the first move by Democrats hoping to take as tight a grip on local elected offices as they have under the capitol dome.
Dan Walters’ Monday column in the Sacramento Bee did an excellent job of dissecting the flaws in SB 958 authored by Sen. Richard Lara and signed into law by Gov. Brown. The statute sets up a 14-member redistricting commission for Los Angeles County with the commission membership reflecting partisan makeup of county voters. As Walters rightly notes, “It’s a recipe for officially bringing party politics into what officially has been, for many decades, nonpartisan local government.”
Why the move? Because Republicans who have a terrible track record of electing statewide officers, have fewer and fewer representatives in the legislature and whose percentage of total voters has dropped to an all time low, do pretty well on the local level. Just under half of locally elected officials in county and city government and other local agencies are Republicans.
Local races don’t designate which party a candidate represents. The Republican brand has taken a hit in California. However, when local officials deal with issues, local voters often embrace solutions offered by Republicans and they are elected to office.
How to undercut this trend of Republicans showing strength at the local level? Change the rules of the game and create a system that favors Democrats. That’s what SB 958 does. Expect more of the same as Democratic political strategists attempt to choke off the building of a Republican bench, the goal of Republican party state chairman Jim Brulte, who is attempting to rebuild the party from the bottom up.