The long-awaited newly drawn California district maps will be released on June 10, but visual plans are already available online. While many naysayers may still find something to dislike, some of the most vocal critics are finding more to celebrate than to pan.
Case-in-point Tony Quinn, who by his own admission, has been doubtful of the CA Citizens Redistricting Commission’s ability to draw effective maps. “No one has been more critical of the new Citizens Redistricting Commission than I have been,” he said in a recent article for Fox & Hounds Daily.
While Quinn still finds room for improvement, he now has a modicum more respect for the Commission, which has been travelling around the state for the past several months to hear from people in various communities in its effort to draw maps more representative of California’s diverse and changing population.
These appear to be good plans for several reasons. First, it is clear the Commission and staff listened to the community input they received. What different areas said they wanted are reflected in many of the new maps.
Second, they said they would not use political data and they did not. The maps are balanced in partisan terms; both parties have reason to be pleased and displeased. There is no partisan advantage in these first maps. And the maps draw a remarkable number of politically marginal districts. Naysayers criticized me when I said the objective should be to create competitive districts; well, whether by design or by chance that is what the Commission has done. Now the important thing is to retain that political balance in the final maps, especially when the Commission comes under assault from bruised incumbents who don’t like their districts.
Third, they did not engage in racial gerrymandering that I and many others had feared. These maps do increase electoral opportunities for Latinos and Asians, as they should given population growth over the decade. But the maps do not have weird gerrymanders of ethnic neighborhoods for partisan purposes, as was encouraged upon the Commission by some interest groups.
White Democrats who were hoping for fingers of ethnic populations to shore up their districts will be disappointed, and Republicans who now represent lily white districts will find far more middle class Latinos and Asians in their districts. For those Republicans who don’t learn how to respond to ethnic voter concerns it will soon be bye bye.
California Forward will continue to follow the progress of the Citizens Redistricting Commission as it works to redraw legislative, congressional, and board of equalization districts using recent U.S. Census data and information from community meetings it has been holding all over the state.