Posted: 12/21/2009 08:56:44 PM PST
Reporter James Rufus Koren’s two-part series on redrawing political districts in California leads us to draw this conclusion:
We hope the same independent, 14-member commission being formed to redistrict legislative seats also will be called upon to redraw the state’s congressional boundaries. That could happen if an initiative to that effect qualifies for the ballot and is passed in 2010.
It’s an easy conclusion to reach. We’d rather have an independent group draw up the districts based on the 2010 Census than have legislators do it. We’ve seen how the legislators handle it, and it’s to benefit politicians, not voters.
The districts we’ve had for the past 10 years were gerrymandered ridiculously to give incumbent Democrats districts that were overwhelmingly Democratic and incumbent Republicans districts that were overwhelmingly GOP. It has worked for the politicians: Districts almost never change party representation, even when a politicians retires or is termed out; as a result, each politician can cater to his own party base and big contributors, virtually ignoring the big, moderate middle of the electorate.
As an example, consider our own 31st and 32nd state Senate districts, currently held by Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod and Republican Bob Dutton, respectively. The 32nd takes in Pomona, Montclair, Ontario, Fontana, Rialto and San Bernardino – areas that tend to vote for Democratic legislators. The 31st runs through the Republican-leaning foothills and mountain areas – Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Highland, Redlands, Yucaipa, the Jurupa Valley and Riverside. On a map, the 31st wraps three-quarters of the way around the 32nd, as though it’s swallowing it.
Rose Institute scholar Doug Johnson said that if Democrats in the Legislature redraw congressional lines, they’ll likely make a new Democratic district in the Inland Empire by pulling Democratic areas out of existing Republican districts, leaving those districts even more heavily Republican.
We’re hoping that redistricting by an independent commission will create more compact districts that group together communities with common geography and interests, resulting in elections that are actually competitive.
To read entire column click here.