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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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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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