New redistricting lines could change Calif. politics

June 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
California's political landscape may change dramatically. A voter-mandated panel, created to level the election playing field, released its first proposed changes Friday morning. The Bay Area doesn't escape their plans to redraw the maps.

In Sacramento, the panel charged with changing the state's election borders released its first maps detailing how to change the state's political landscape.

Back in 2008, voters created the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. The independent 14-member panel has the task of rearranging the state's assembly, senate, and congressional districts with the hope of reducing political gridlock and putting an end to districts designed to favor one party over another.

These new districts tend to be along geographic lines, but take race into account as well.

"I think if what the voters wanted was to completely change the landscape, in certain areas of the state it really changes the landscape, but not everywhere," said ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain. "When you get down to Southern California, Orange County, Eastern Los Angeles County, and San Bernardino County there's been tremendous changes, such that a lot of incumbents simply don't have any recognizable district anymore and they are going to have to run in a completely new place."

Cain says overall the Bay Area's political leanings won't likely change much. That's because the borders of districts in the Bay Area may shift only slightly. In Congress, the impact may be more dramatic -- Republicans stand to lose as many as four seats in Congress, mostly from the changes in Southern California.

The maps set up a potential battle in Napa and Marin counties where political allies Rep. Lynn Woolsey and Rep. Mike Thompson hold seats. Changes in the district borders could pit them against each other in an election. Cain says it could also make these typically liberal leaning counties bend more moderate. Don't expect that to happen without a fight.

Woolsey released a statement on Friday criticizing the proposal saying: "The Redistricting Commission has dismissed its mandate and violated its own guidelines."

She says her constituents are more in line with Sonoma County than North Coast communities. The final maps are due Aug. 15.

June Meetings/Hearings Schedule

Written and produced by Ken Miguel


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