By Mediha Fejzagic DiMartino Staff Writer
Posted: 07/29/2011 06:57:10 PM PDT

The Citizens Redistricting Commission on Friday voted to adopt the state’s new political boundaries, sealing its decision to bind the fate of two longtime congressmen.

Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, whose residence would now be in Rep. Joe Baca’s district, will have a decision to make – move into a new district similar to the area he currently represents, or face off against Baca, D-San Bernardino, in Baca’s home district.

“Whatever he decides, the party will support him,” said Robert Rego, a chairman of the Republican Party of San Bernardino County.

In the final version of the congressional districts map, the commissioners carved out Rancho Cucamonga and the southern part of Upland from the district that now belongs to Rep. David Dreier, R-San Dimas, and assigned it to the one held by Baca.

The Democrat’s district also gained Redlands, Loma Linda and Grand Terrace, but lost Ontario, Fontana and parts of Rialto. Those cities now belong to a newly formed 35th Congressional District also encompassing Pomona, Montclair, Chino, Bloomington and Ontario.

The new district most like the one Lewis now represents includes all of the San Bernardino Mountains, parts of Highland, all of the High Desert, Yucaipa, Crafton, Death Valley National Park and north to Mammoth Lakes.

Before the 2012 elections, a couple of scenarios may play out, Rego said.

Baca may decide to move into the 35th Congressional District which, according to political analysts, is poised to be Democratic.

If he chooses to stay in his current district and is challenged by Lewis, the addition of Redlands, Rancho Cucamonga, Loma Linda, Grand Terrace and the north portion of San Bernardino will not work in his favor.

“These are areas which generally favor Lewis and have a higher rate of voter turnout,” Rego said. “The district is now quite competitive and Lewis could win if he chooses to run.”

Lewis could chose to run for the area which encompasses portions of his current district, because a candidate does not have to live in a district to run for it, Rego said.

Running out of district has worked for other candidates, according to Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College. Rep. Tom McClintock in 2008 was elected for a northern California district which includes Susanville and South Lake Tahoe.

“He ran and won while living 100 miles from his political base,” Pitney said.

If Lewis decides to move, no one would regard him as a carpetbagger, Pitney said. “He’s represented the district for decades, first in Assembly and then Congress. He has deep roots in the community.

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