Redistricting has placed Republican Rep. David Dreier’s home in a new Latino-majority district where Republican John McCain won just 33% in the 2008 presidential election. (Francine Orr, Los Angeles Times)

By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times
August 28, 2011, 9:41 p.m.

Reporting from Washington— David Dreier, who chairs the House Rules Committee, has a seat at the GOP leadership table, helping set his party’s legislative and political agenda. He has hobnobbed with all kinds of figures, from Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Tommy Lasorda, in his spiffy Capitol office.

He owns homes in Malibu, Rancho Mirage and his San Gabriel Valley district. And, as head of a panel that works to promote democracy abroad, he has traveled to such places as East Timor and Mongolia.

He seems to have everything — except a district to run in next year.

New political maps threaten to cost California political clout in Washington by placing Dreier’s San Dimas home in inhospitable territory for a Republican and robbing some of the state’s other senior House members of their job security.

“These districts are drawn without regard to incumbents or seniority in Washington,” Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) said in an interview. “As a result, both on the Democratic and Republican side, some of our senior people will be forced into costly and difficult election campaigns. Many of them won’t return, which I think will hurt the clout of the state in a Congress where seniority matters.”

Democratic-leaning California has enjoyed considerable influence in the House, oddly enough under Republican rule as well as under Democratic control, largely because of the seniority its members have accrued from running in safe districts. Four California Republicans chair House committees — more than any other state — and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) holds his party’s third-ranking job of majority whip.

California Democrats serve as ranking members of five committees, also more than any other state, and Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is minority leader.

Under a redistricting drawn up by a new citizens commission, up to a dozen or more California House seats could be up for grabs next year in a state where one seat flipped between the parties in the last decade.

Dreier, a 30-year House veteran who in 1999 became the first Californian to chair the committee that decides which measures go to the House floor and how fast faces perhaps the most uncertainty. The plan places his home in a new Latino-majority district where Republican John McCain won just 33% in the 2008 presidential election.

Dreier, 59, has had little to say publicly about his plans. Some say he might run in a new GOP-friendly district, stretching from the Inland Empire communities of Highland and Yucaipa to rural Mono County, though Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) is considering running there.

Dreier supports a petition drive to overturn the new congressional district lines. But his California House Republican colleagues are divided over a petition.

“I’m going to take a wait-and-see attitude,” Dreier said in a recent interview. “Anybody who has come to the conclusion that these are the final lines that people will run in in June of next year may have another think coming.”

But Dreier is a skilled fundraiser who has faced tough campaigns before. After his district was shifted almost entirely out of Los Angeles County in an earlier reapportionment, he stayed put in the San Gabriel Valley, running against fellow Republican Rep. Wayne Grisham in 1982 and winning.

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