California Redistricting Commission Approves Final District Maps
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A new congressional district map approved by California’s independent redistricting commission late Monday night appears to favor Democrats while making it slightly harder for Republican incumbents to get reelected.
“We have reached the finish line for the people’s redistricting process in California,” Commission Chair Alicia Fernandez said.
“As Californians, my colleagues on this commission and I answered the call to serve for this great state we honor and love. We conclude our map drawing responsibilities with pride in our final product. We started this process leaving politics out of the equation in hopes of achieving fairer and more equitable maps,” Fernandez added.
The biggest change in the map, of course, is the loss of a House seat, which appears to be borne primarily by the Democrats and was a factor in the announced retirements of two Democratic members of Congress, Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard and Alan Lowenthal, who were drawn into the same district.
Similarly, the new maps for the state legislative districts also appear to preserve the longstanding Democratic majority, but also set up potential primaries among incumbents who were drawn into single districts.
That said, California promises to once again host congressional showdowns next year. In 2018, Democrats flipped seven House seats, only to see four of them flip back to the Republicans two years later.
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission, created in 2008 when voters passed the Voters First Act, is composed of five Democrats, five Republicans and four members not affiliated with either party.
As the panel did its work, it had to follow mandated guidelines that said:
- Districts must be of equal population to comply with the U.S. Constitution;
- Districts must comply with the Voting Rights Act to give minorities equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice;
- District must be drawn so that all parts of the district are connected to each other;
- Districts must minimize the division of cities, counties, neighborhoods and communities of interest; and
- Districts should be geographically compact so that nearby areas of population are not bypassed for a more distant population.
In addition, the commission’s rules mandate that each state Senate district should be composed of two complete and adjacent Assembly Districts, and the Board of Equalization districts should comprise 10 complete and adjacent state Senate districts.
The California State Board of Equalization is a public agency charged with tax administration and fee collection.
Along with that criteria, the commission’s charge included an anti-gerrymandering provision that states the home of incumbent or political candidates may not be considered in the creation of a map, and districts may not be drawn to gain political favor or advantage against an opponent.
Earlier this year, census data revealed that the state would drop from 53 to 52 seats in the House for the first time in its 170-year-history because of stalled growth in population.
California remains the most populous state by far with nearly 39.58 million people but it is growing more slowly than other states.
The state’s population grew by about 2.3 million people since the 2010 census but growth has been nearly flat since 2017.
Now that the commission has endorsed the final district maps, it will take comments for the balance of the week and likely submit the maps to the California secretary of state’s office on Friday.
The secretary of state must certify the maps by Dec. 27. The filing deadline for candidates to run in the state’s June 7 top-two, all-party primary is March 11.