State redistricting nears finish line
Two attempts by Republicans to challenge an independent commission's district maps were thrown out today by the state Supreme Court. The GOP's last hope for challenging the lines will come in the form of a referendum on the November ballot -- if backers can get enough signatures.
The high court ruling further undermines the hope that many Republicans had to enlarge their presence in the state Capitol.
It was the California Democrats who for years blocked efforts by good-government types to change the state redistricting process. After all, Democrats had the clear majority in the Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and they had no intention of giving up their power to draw new lines every 10 years after census figures came out. Former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown said in 2008 that defeating Proposition 11 -- the measure that put an independent citizens commission in charge of redistricting the Assembly and the Senate (oh, and the state Board of Equalization, but so what?) -- was almost as important as electing Barack Obama president.
But voters adopted Proposition 11 by a hair, and last year added Proposition 20, which made House seats also subject to the independent commission's map-drawing.
Both campaigns were funded largely by Republican Charles T. Munger Jr., and his efforts were cheered and supported by rank-and-file Republicans who argued that finally the Democratic lock on the state could be broken.
It didn't turn out that way. The commission's maps could end up giving Democrats close to the two-thirds supermajority they'd need in the Senate and Assembly to pass taxes without GOP support.
Munger said last month that he had no regrets.
Photo: Former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times