The political bent of the 25th Congressional District in northern L.A. County would shift from a distinct purple to something closer to blue, endangering the one GOP House member who represents Los Angeles County.
Also, two veteran San Gabriel Valley Democratic lawmakers could be forced into a poltical fight over the same cities, while a House member from Long Beach would see his district lose its Orange County slice in favor of more voters in Los Angeles County.
Those are some of the shifts that could happen if proposed new political maps from the California Citizens Redistricting Commission are finalized later this year.
The maps are only drafts, and officials say they will be revised until the legal deadline of Dec. 27. But they offer a hint at what California’s political landscape will look like for the next 10 years, when a new Census measures shifts in the population that lead to the redistricting.
In 2021, the redrawn maps reflect a state that over the past decade has grown slower than many others, a change that means California’s congressional delegation will shrink by one, to 52 seats.
The most obvious shift could affect Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Saugus, the county’s lone GOP member in the House.
As proposed, the 25th Congressional District would lose a slice of GOP voters in Simi Valley and gain voters in Lancaster and Palmdale.
Experts say Simi Valley voters gave Garcia his win last year against Democrat Christy Smith, a race that drew national attention.
“He won in Simi Valley. That was the difference,” said Alan Clayton, a redistricting expert. “He got over the hump because of Simi Valley.”
Democrats said Thursday that they were optimistic that the proposed 25th would stand up to revision, particularly in light of the liberal state losing a congressional seat this year.
“The hopeful part is we gained,” said Mark Gonzalez, chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, Republicans said they aren’t yet ready to give up that ground. The 14-member commission has until Dec. 27 to release final maps. Until then, interested parties can continue to lobby for change.
Under state and federal law, legislative maps are supposed to be drawn to represent voting groups, not political interests.
“I think the main thing is, it’s not final yet,” said Richard Sherman, chair of the L.A. County Republican Party, with an eye toward mobilizing members to express their ideas to the commission.
Sherman also noted that the proposed maps could give Garcia more conservative clusters of voters in the new north zone of the district.
“He may have lost Simi but he may have gained areas further north that could be advantageous for him,” said Sherman.
That said, other pundits believe Garcia could face a more liberal electorate than the one that sent him to congress.
Dave Wasserman, senior editor of the Cook Political Reporter, listed Garcia as one of a few congress members in California who face tougher reelection fights if the proposed boundaries remain in place. Others on that list included fellow Republican Tom McClintock, near Sacramento, and Democrat Katie Porter in Orange County.
But Wasserman noted, “this draft will change. Perhaps a lot.”
Next, other “losers” who would be at heightened risk:#CA04 McClintock (R) – Trump +10 to +5#CA25 Garcia (R) – Biden +10 to +13#CA42 Calvert (R) – Trump +7 to Tied#CA45 Porter (D) – Biden +11 to +4#CA49 Levin (D) – Biden +13 to +9#CA53 Jacobs (D) – Biden +36 to +8
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 11, 2021
Christy Smith, who formerly represented the area in the state Assembly, is challenging Garcia again next year. Clayton suggested that if the proposed map lines hold, other Democrats also might jump into the race.
California is one of a handful of states that has pulled redistricting out of the hands of elected officials, creating the independent commission in 2008. The 14-member commission, made of of non-politicians, includes a proportional number of Republicans, Democrats and no party preference voters, as well as different areas of the state.
Underpinning the creation of a citizens commission is the idea that maps would be drawn in proportion to the population and its changes, rather than motivated by a legislator’s interest.
Still, in addition to the possible changes in CA-25, the proposed new maps could alter other parts of the county’s political landscape.
Incumbents who might be hurt in the new boundaries are Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Boyle Heights and Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park. The new lines could shift some Latino and Asian voters out of their districts. Another incumbent who would see big changes in her district, Rep. Karen Bass, is running for mayor of Los Angeles.
Other incumbent House members might be relatively unaffected or even helped by the new maps. Rep. Alan Lowenthall, D-Long Beach, for example, could see his seat lose a section of Orange County while gaining new voters in Los Angeles County.
On the state Legislature side, state Sen. Bob Archuleta, D-Pico Rivera, might have to face a tough decision. His district, which covers parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties, could shift to include a slice of La Habra. What it wouldn’t include, however, is the neighborhood where Archuleta lives. Because state representatives are required by law to live in their districts (a rule that doesn’t apply to House members), Archuleta might have to move or face a fellow Democrat, State Sen. Susan Rubio, for reelection.
Between Nov. 17 and Nov. 23, commissioners will hear public input on the draft maps. And by early December they will review public comment and more commissioner feedback. Final lines are due Dec. 27.
Local voters and activists said Thursday that the new maps aren’t as critical as the fact that liberal California is losing a seat in what is currently a narrowly divided House of Representatives.
“We are likely to lose one congressional district. That has a greater impact on just what’s in front of us,” said Erin Pak, CEO of KHEIR Clinic, a Koreatown-based health center that serves underserved populations. “There’s going to be changed in the federal leadership level. That means, for us in healthcare, there will be serious repercussions.”
Pak said the commission has a responsibility consider the interests of specific communities, such as Koreatown, in devising fair maps.
“The entire community will rise or fall together,” she said.
SCNG’s Brooke Staggs and the Associated Press contributed to this story.
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