Gov.Gray Davis has signed redistricting
bills that will probably allow
Democrats to dominate California’s
Legislature and congres-sional
delegation for the next decade.
But the bipartisan measures
also tend to strengthen Republicans’
hold on the seats they have
now and may keep Democrats
from winning a majority in the
House of Representatives next
“This reapportionment effort
was a most cooperative bipartisan
endeavor,” the Democratic
governor said Thursday. “No
plan is perfect, but the maps produced
this year are fair and balanced.”
Legislators are required to
approve new districts for them-selves
and the state’s congres-sional
representatives every 10
years to reflect population
changes revealed by federal cen-sus.
If one party controls the
process it can draw the lines to
try to create more winnable seats
for its candidates.
Democrats were firmly in
charge of redistricting in Califor-nia
this year because of their big
majorities in the Legislature and
the presence of Davis in the governor’s office.
But Democrats decided to use
the process to solidify their hold
on the seats they have now
instead of trying to draw several
more Democratic leaning districts.
That decision avoided a
Republican Party challenge to
the plans in court or through a
However, a Democrat is likely
to win the additional congres-sional
seat that the state was
awarded because of its popula-tion
growth in the 1990s. That
new seat is in Los Angeles
Democrats currently hold
26 of the 40 seats in the
state Senate, 50 of the 80
seats in the state Assembly
and 32 of California’s 52
seats in the House of Repre-sentatives.
Davis said the plans were put
together by “extremely diverse”
legislative committees that
included blacks, Latinos, Asians,
gays and women.
But some of the new districts
have come under fire from Latino
and Asian organizations that
say the lines reduce the clout of
minority group voters.
And some female lawmakers
have complained the
Senate and congressional
plans would prevent a number
of assemblywomen from
moving up the political ladder.