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News Brief: Another California redistricting victim

by Brett Piersma

In September, this blog reported on the impact of a California initiative to create a citizen-panel to draw the new electoral districts. The commission’s efforts resulted in more competitive districts, with additional unintended consequences likely to follow such as more expensive campaigns relying on wealthy donors. On the other hand, more competitive districts are likely to draw more moderate candidates into the race, at least so goes the theory.

The Los Angeles Times reported in January that Elton Gallegly, the subject of our September piece, had chosen not to run for reelection. For some, this came as no surprise. A long-time representative earning reelection with big margins, Gallegly would certainly have carried his pre-redrawn district. But the commission’s actions placed Gallegly’s home in the same district as another popular Republican, Howard “Buck” McKeon. It does not require a top-dollar campaign advisor to calculate his chances of election in this new district, or in the new districts surrounding.

How his retirement will affect both California’s and the Republican Party’s clout in the House is uncertain, but not difficult to imagine. Gallegly not only chaired the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement and vice-chaired the Committee on Foreign Affairs, but reported in January on his significant connections with pharmaceuticals, finance, and real estate corporations.

Gallegly joins a long string of representatives retiring at the end of this term, many of whom are stepping down at least in part due to redistricting in their states.

Brett Piersma is a third-year law student at William and Mary.



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Meet the new Editors!

It’s a new year at William & Mary Law School, and that means State of Elections has a brand new editorial board! 1Ls Patrick Genova, John Loughney, and Brett Piersma will be taking the reins of the site and handling most editorial duties from here on out.

Here’s some information about the new editors:

Patrick Genova hails from the well-paved streets of Virginia Beach, Virginia. He is a recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia where he majored in psychology with a minor in creative writing. While at VCU Patrick was Treasurer and Membership Director of Psi Chi- the International Honor Society in Psychology. His interests include voter equality, and partisan redistricting. When Patrick isn’t blogging he enjoys fine foods and terrible music.

John Loughney is a graduate from the University of Maryland with a BA in French. He loves adventure novels, crossword puzzles, playing blues and jazz on his guitar, scuba diving, fencing epee, traveling, and writing love letters in French. He’s an old-school kind of guy who enjoys gin and tonics and quality conversation. He may be the only young person left who doesn’t use Facebook. His role models include Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, Kermit the Frog, Eric Clapton, and Vladimir Putin. He hopes to practice law internationally, distill his own whiskey, and build custom guitars from scratch. He has experience as a journalist, editor, and translator, and contributes to the Election Law Society his great motivation to eradicate hanging prepositions.

Brett Piersma graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a B.A. in History and an M.Ed. in Education. He taught Advanced Placement American Government and European History in California for ten years before attending William and Mary Law School. He has facilitated the California History-Social Science Project, co-authored 11 workbooks for educators, and was a MetLife Fellow for the Teacher’s Network Leadership Institute. He has earned two Teacher’s Network Disseminator Grants, presented at several state and national conferences, and won the UCSB History Associates Outstanding History Instruction award. Among his many interests are the problems of non-voting, the unintentional consequences of political reform, and the impact of federalism and game theory on campaigns.

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New Lines in the Sand: Redistricting in the Golden State

“All politics is local.” The truth of Tip O’Neill’s famous quip may sting some senior California House members as the state’s redistricting efforts land them in newly-formed districts that they might not be able to carry.

The new district map is the product of a bi-partisan citizen’s commission established by Proposition 11. Enacted directly by voters in 2008 and expanded in 2010, the law amended the state constitution to move redistricting authority from the legislature to a bipartisan commission of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Tasked with redrawing not only congressional districts but State Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization districts as well, the commission’s work will go into effect for the 2012 election. Continue reading

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