The first local casualty of California’s new Citizens Redistricting Commission is El Dorado Hills’ own Democrat Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, who announced last week that she’s moving to Rancho Cordova.
The commission packed up Huber’s notoriously gerrymandered 10th Assembly District and shipped it to Marin County. El Dorado Hills now resides in a more heterogeneous District 6, alongside fellow suburbs Folsom, Cameron Park, Granite Bay, Lincoln, Fair Oaks and, tellingly for Huber, Roseville — the home of Republican Assemblywoman Beth Gaines.
Gaines also finds herself displaced from the district that elected her, District 4, which moved to Yolo County. She has stated her intention to run for the newly formed District 6.
Last week Huber announced she would move from El Dorado Hills to Rancho Cordova to seek her third two-year term in the Assembly in the largely suburban District 8, which includes about 40 percent of her old District 10.
The new District 8 has a roughly even mix of registered Democrat and Republican voters. It stretches from Citrus Heights south to the Wilton area, including Rancho Cordova, Carmichael, Arden Arcade, North Highlands and Rancho Murieta.
Huber has promised that her family would physically relocate, rather than rent an apartment in Rancho Cordova. She and her husband Tim told local media they haven’t decided what to do with their El Dorado Hills home in the current down market, and may rent it out.
Huber vowed to continue pushing for “sunset review” legislation that periodically measures the effectiveness of state agencies and commissions, eliminating them when they are no longer useful.
Her competition for a seat in District 8 may include Democrat Chris Parker, an attorney with the Franchise Tax Board, who has formed a committee to raise money for the race. He would also have to move to the district. Republican Peter Tateishi, chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren, is also running for the District 8 Assembly seat.
Originally a long-shot in what was thought to be a safe Republican Assembly District 10 in the 2008 election, the fresh-faced Democrat won the race against Republican Jack Sieglock, who also lost to Huber in a 2010 challenge. Locally she caught the attention of El Dorado Hills liberals and conservatives alike by engaging the community and taking on the Placerville-based El Dorado County power structure, fighting for greater El Dorado Hills representation on the El Dorado County Transportation Commission.
Californians stripped the Legislature of its once-a-decade redistricting responsibility in 2008 with the passage of Proposition 11, the Voter’s First act, which assigned the task of redistricting to a bipartisan citizens’ commission.
The commission tentatively approved final maps July 29. The new districts result in more mixed electorates. Many lawmakers in previously “safe” districts find themselves facing strong incumbents, either inside or outside their own parties. Insiders report that at least 60 elected officials in California are either displaced from their districts or will face expensive reelection fights.
The California Supreme Court unanimously dismissed two redistricting legal challenges on Oct. 26, but Republicans have now filed enough signatures to get a referendum disqualifying the new Senate districts on the 2012 ballot.
Placerville residents also find themselves in a new Assembly district. Beth Gaines’ old District 4 included Placerville, but no more. Hangtown is now in the north end of the more southerly Sierra Assembly District 5, where it joins fellow foothill communities of Georgetown, Auburn, Jackson and San Andreas. It extends east to include the city of South Lake Tahoe and south to encompass all of Yosemite National Park.
Thus far, the announced candidates for the new District 5 assembly seat include Madera County Supervisor Frank Bigelow and former state senator and assemblyman Rico Oller, who fought Doug Ose for Congressman John Doolittle’s 4th Congressional District seat, but dropped out when Tom McClintock, the eventual winner, entered the race.
In the state Senate, the new districts also displace Beth’s husband Ted, who currently represents District 1, which includes all of El Dorado County and most of Placer County, including his long-time residence in Roseville.
But Ted Gaines is now in Senate District 4, where fellow Republican Doug LaMalfa is firmly entrenched. Ted has stated that if necessary he will move elsewhere in Placer County to remain in the new District 1, which largely overlaps with its predecessor.
But Ted is sitting tight until the Republican referendum challenging the new Senate districts is resolved.
Beth Gaines’ chief of staff Dave Titus confirmed that the couple has found locations in Placer County that are positioned in both the new Senate District 1 for Ted and Assembly District 6 for Beth.
Shift to the left?
Los Angeles Times reporters Jean Merl and Michael J. Mishak predicted the commission’s efforts will cost Republicans a handful of seats in Congress, and enough seats in the state Senate for Democrats to command the two-thirds majority that would give Democrats control of the Legislature.
Concerned about losing their “super-minority” one-third-plus in both legislative chambers, Republican activists hope to overturn the new the state Senate districts. A group called Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting (FAIR) recently turned over 710,924 signatures in support of a California-wide referendum on the matter in Nov. 2012.
That’s 200,164 more than they need to qualify, but signature validation rules are complicated and time consuming. Some capital wonks now predict that the signatures will probably not be validated in time for the June primary, and that the 2012 state Senate districts will be decided in a courtroom. The outcome will likely spawn more referendums and/or lawsuits.