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The California Citizens Redistricting Commission approved new district lines Friday, setting off what is expected to be more competitive Congressional races than the state has seen in decades.
The final draft of the new Congressional map shuffles the delegation’s lineup by moving incumbents into new districts and, in at least three cases, forcing Members to run against each other.
Republicans feel the map has improved for them since the first draft was released June 10, but Democrats stand to pick up two to four seats under the new map, with some experienced Democratic analysts predicting that gains of five to six seats are possible.
The 14-member commission approved the final plan Friday but must vote again Aug. 15 after a two-week public review period. Although the plan still awaits final adoption and there are likely legal challenges that could complicate the process, state legislators and other elected officials have already announced Congressional bids and Members are already staking out their turf.
According to a newsletter from Democratic redistricting expert Paul Mitchell, who breaks down the data on his Redistricting Partners website, “A preliminary look at the data ... will show some fun potential pairings and political drama.”
Rep. Janice Hahn (D), who won a special election just this month, was drawn into the new Compton-based 44th district that Rep. Laura Richardson (D) has said she will run in. Richardson lives in the neighboring Long Beach-based new 47th district, but her current district was split between the two, and she’s chosen to run in the one with higher African-American and Democratic voting age populations.
A big chunk of Hahn’s current district was drawn into the district of 19-term Rep. Henry Waxman (D), whose Westside Los Angeles district was stretched to the south along the coast to pick up the Beach Cities and the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
To the east in Orange County, Republican Reps. Ed Royce and Gary Miller were drawn into the 39th district, and GOP strategists expect the two to face off next year. Royce has more money — $2.8 million in the bank to Miller’s $1 million — and insiders said he is the early favorite.
In northern LA, Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman were drawn into the same San Fernando Valley district. This was expected, though Democrats had hoped to avoid a Berman-Sherman showdown and neither has indicated he will back down. The other valley district is heavily Latino, and Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cárdenas (D) has already announced he is running there.