Has California’s shiny new independent redistricting commission already been captured by the left? That’s what Republicans are charging. I’m highly receptive to that kind of complaint, but this one is … incompletely convincing. For one thing, the commission’s rules (requiring three votes from the five Republicans on the commission, and the four independent commissioners) seem to prevent an effective capture by one party. For another, what would Democrats do if they did control the commission? Draw lines to maximize the Dem legislative majority? That would seem to require creating at least a few districts Dems would win only be a relatively small margin–which means they would be more competitive than the vast majority of districts now, which would in turn open up the possibility of a moderate Democrat winning under California’s new “top two” open primary system, no? (Similarly, it would seem to increase opportunities for moderate Republicans who could appeal to centrists in a “top two” runoff.) … The worst the panel could do is decide to protect all incumbents, which is basically the status quo. But it’s hard to believe incumbents will be able to lobby and negotiate with the panel the way they could lobby a party leader like the late Phil Burton or a Dem operative like Michael Berman. And even random changes in the current arrangement would seem to be an improvement. … P.S.: However the lines are drawn, California’s legislative delegations will be heavily majority-Dem because the state is heavily majority Dem. That’s not the point. (The point, or points, are a) more moderates from both parties; b) more competition, within the parties and between them, translating into c) less incumbent lock-in, more voter ability to throw a bum out) …
Has the left captured California redistricting?
4:02 PM 04/03/2011