SACRAMENTO - California's independent redistricting commission Monday certified the state's new legislative and congressional maps, but the political boundaries drew an immediate challenge from the state Republican Party, which said they were drawn improperly to favor Democrats.
Major changes are in store for Nevada County's Congressional representation.
In the 2012 election cycle, the 4th Congressional District, currently occupied by Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove), will only include Truckee, where previously it included all of Nevada County. The seat will include most of the Sierra Nevada communities south of the Lake Tahoe/Truckee area, and McClintock plans to run in the district, said John Huey, his campaign manager.
Western Nevada County becomes part of the new 1st District Congressional seat, which stretches east to the Nevada state line, North to Oregon, and west to Chico. It contains most of the old 2nd Congressional District, currently represented by Wally Herger (R-Chico).
Calls to Herger's district office and campaign were not returned as of press time Monday.
Representation also will change for the county at the state legislature level.
Senator Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) currently represents most of western Nevada County in the 4th District, in which he still lives under the new congressional map. But all of Nevada County will be part of the new 1st District, which roughly mirrors the new Congressional district. There is no sitting state senator in the 1st District.
The only new district that includes the entire county is the 1st District Assembly seat, which extends north from the Placer County/El Dorado County border to Oregon along the Nevada state line, and west to the western borders of Siskyou, Shasta, Plumas and Sierra counties.
Dan Logue (R-Penn Valley), who currently represents Nevada County in the 3rd District, lives within the new 1st District, which is comprised of parts of the old 2nd, 3rd and 4th districts.
California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro told the Associated Press the party will file a petition and form a committee called Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting today, seeking a referendum on the June 2012 ballot to overturn newly approved state Senate districts.
Del Beccaro said the party will submit ballot language to the secretary of state's office.
"There isn't any doubt that this commission did not apply consistent standards when drawing its maps and the worst of that relates to Senate maps," he said.
Political consultant Dave Gilliard has been hired to run the referendum campaign. He says the group will need to collect about 505,000 valid signatures to qualify the measure.
The 14-member California Citizens Redistricting Commission voted on final maps for Congress, the Legislature and the Board of Equalization, which administers sales and use taxes. The panel released drafts two weeks ago but gave formal approval Monday.
The new state Assembly, Senate and Board of Equalization maps were approved 13-1, with Republican commissioner Michael Ward voting in opposition. Ward, of Anaheim, and another Republican commissioner, Jodie Filkins Webber of Norco, voted against the new congressional boundaries.
Ward issued a statement saying he thought the panel failed to adhere to the federal Voting Rights Act, which requires that minority groups be placed in the same district.
"This commission simply traded the partisan, backroom gerrymandering by the Legislature for partisan, backroom gerrymandering by average citizens," Ward wrote.
The panel chose to preserve the influence of African-American voters in the Los Angeles area by breaking the population up into three congressional districts rather than clustering that community into one district. Leaders in that region's black communities had feared they could lose at least one congressional district as a result of black people migrating from the urban core to the suburbs.
Ward said the commission had failed to apply the act consistently.
Political consultants who have been monitoring the panel's work all year said Democrats would gain more seats through the process simply because of the state's population shift, which includes an expanding Hispanic voting bloc. GOP officials have been reviewing the maps and avenues for possible challenges - likely in the form of a ballot referendum on the congressional and state Senate maps.
Del Beccaro has said the commission split cities and towns into some unnatural pairings in its effort to accommodate various interest groups. The chairman said a separate group plans to file a lawsuit claiming that the Senate district covering the central coastal region now represented by GOP Sen. Sam Blakeslee is unconstitutional.
Ironically, it was Republicans who supported the ballot initiatives that took the once-a-decade redistricting responsibility away from the Legislature. Voters created the independent citizens commission in 2008 and expanded its authority to congressional districts in 2010.
To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.