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LA Members Face Tough Choices and Races

File Photo
Reps. Brad Sherman (left) and Howard Berman appear headed for a bruising Democratic primary fight next year if there aren’t major changes made to a newly proposed California Congressional map.

Los Angeles-area Democrats are facing the possibility of two smashmouth duels between Members next year that could last through November if the final Congressional lines look anything like the first-draft map released last week.

LA is a logjam, as some Members will need to move into districts they have not represented and two Republicans, Reps. David Dreier and Gary Miller, are likely to be drawn out completely.

“At least one of the incumbents is going to get screwed,” one LA-based Democratic consultant said of area Democrats under the new Congressional map.

In the San Fernando Valley in the northern end of LA County, Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman were drawn into the same district, with large areas of their current districts redrawn into a Latino-majority district.

Berman announced just hours after the map was released Friday that he intended to run in the district his home was drawn into. About half of that new district, however, is part of Sherman’s current district, and Sherman is not prepared to back down.

At the southern end of LA County, Democratic Reps. Laura Richardson and Linda Sánchez were drawn into a district that includes all of Long Beach.

That area no longer includes large African-American populations in the cities of Compton and Carson, which are now in a new district sliced between the Beach Cities and Long Beach.

One LA-based Democratic insider said Sánchez is already calling Democrats in the area asking for support in a possible bid against Richardson. But it is still not clear whether either would run in that district.

“We expect there to be some clashes of the titans with Democrats in our Congressional races in LA,” Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman said. “As much as I always look forward to exciting campaigns, I would just as soon the districts get better so that Sherman and Berman, and Richardson and Sánchez don’t have to run against each other. But we’ll see what the commission is going to do.”

According to analyses from insiders, Democrats would likely pick up two to four seats statewide if the first-draft map holds. But the districts are not finalized, and in forthcoming hearings around the state, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission will likely hear from supporters of incumbents who got the short end of the stick.

The new western San Fernando Valley district includes just more than half of Sherman’s current district, about one-fifth of Berman’s district and a big chunk of Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D) district that had been carved out of Sherman’s area in 2001 redistricting.

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