Politics and redistricting: The madness in SF's future

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Assembly districts -- where will the new lines be?

The political merry-go-round in San Francisco going to be whirling at light speed soon. It’s partially the fault of term limits -- over the next couple of years, some very talented, ambitious politicians are going to be forced to leave local office, and they’re looking for the next step. Part of it is the confluence of a bunch of events, starting with Mayor Gavin Newsom and District Attorney Kamala Harris both seeking statewide office.

 

And there’s another factor that hasn’t been talked about much, but it’s really important: Next year, every Congressional, state Legislative and local supervisorial district is going to change.

After the decennial census, everyone has to draw new lines to reflect population shifts. At the state level (and Congressional redistricting is also a state function), that’s in the hands of a reapportionment commission, which I’m dubious about: The majority of the applicants are white people, and it’s supposed to have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, although the state has far more Democratic voters. It’s anybody’s guess how they’ll actually draw the lines.

 

An elections task force will do the local lines, and it’s going to be harder to screw up; San Francisco supervisorial districts are supposed to reflect established neighborhood boundaries, and the population shifts within the city haven’t been that dramatic.And it’s unlikely anyone’s going to try to draw lines just to force an incumbent supervisor out of a district. But the districts will be a little bit different, and in San Francisco politics, a little bit can mean a lot.

 

The state Legislative districts will change significantly -- and could change the politics of this area, and the state, in dramatic ways. For example, suppose Mark Leno’s Senate District moves somewhat North, to include a majority of Marin and Sonoma residents and only a small minority of San Franciscans? Suppose that district no longer includes Marin or Sonoma, but includes all of San Francisco (which would put Leno and Leland Yee in the same district)?

 

Suppose the 12th and 13th Assembly Districts, which now divide about East/West, shift to North and South? What if Tom Ammiano and Fiona Ma end up in the same district? (Um, I think that’s a closer relationship than either of them wants ….)

 

What happens if Nancy Pelosi is redistricted out of her seat? (Heh heh, won’t happen, but in theory, she and Lynn Woolsey could wind up living in the same district.)

It’s going to change the dynamics in a city that’s already poised for some upsets to the political apple cart.

 

Ross Mirkarimi’s termed out in 2012, and if he doesn’t run for mayor (or doesn’t get elected) he’ll be looking for the next step, which could be a run for the state Assembly; Tom Ammiano will be termed out in 2014. Of course, that’s been a gay seat for a long time (Carole Migden, Mark Leno, Ammiano) and by them someone like David Campos might be interested.

 

Or the district lines might have changed so much that both of them – or neither of them – can get elected.

 

If Bevan Dufty doesn’t get elected mayor, he’s out of a job – and he’s a political junkie who won’t easily retire. He’ll be looking at other offices, too. So will Sean Elsbernd, I suspect.

And that doesn’t even count the mayor’s race, which could, at this point, involve both state Senators, Leno and Leland Yee, and if either one wins, that opens up a Senate seat. And at the same time, if Kamala Harris is elected district attorney, that job will be open, and it’s an open secret that Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, a former prosecutor, would love to be in that office some day.

And in the background is the question of who becomes mayor if Newsom becomes lt. governor


 (and what happens to Aaron Peskin, an astute politician if ever there were one, and a potential mayor if this board of supervisors gets to make the appointment ). At lot to think about – and trust me, the thinking is already going on.

Comments

I wasn't aware, as a gay person, that there existed a seat set aside specifically for The Gays.

Posted by Lucretia the Trollop on Mar. 11, 2010 @ 9:09 pm

You know what I mean, Lucretia; it's an area that has consistently sent an LGBT person to the state Legislature, and there aren't that many (openly) gay people in the Legislature, and some people in San Francisco will argue that it's important to elect someone from the LGBT community to that seat.

Posted by tim on Mar. 12, 2010 @ 10:01 am

Tim you should address what's going to happen when a federal-level House seat disappears. Which congressperson is going to be forced to either retire or run against one of their friends and which district is going to disappear entirely? That's another interesting question. Nancy may soon be representing parts of San Mateo county or parts of Marin along with her current district. Either way it's going to be interesting!

Posted by Lucretia the Trollop on Mar. 12, 2010 @ 11:21 am

That after years of districts being set by the democrats, to make it safe for democrats, things might change.

This also cracked me up...

"After the decennial census, everyone has to draw new lines to reflect population shifts. At the state level (and Congressional redistricting is also a state function), that’s in the hands of a reapportionment commission, which I’m dubious about: The majority of the applicants are white people, and it’s supposed to have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, although the state has far more Democratic voters. It’s anybody’s guess how they’ll actually draw the lines."

After complaining there are not enough minorities, Tim complains that there are too many of a certain minority on the commission.

Posted by glen matlock on Mar. 12, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

To be fair to Tim, he's never claimed that he wants the districting process (or any electoral process) to be as equitable and objective as possible.

He only claims he wants the districting and electoral process to be whatever yields the most progressive winners.

You have to respect such single-minded commitment to his cause.

Posted by Tom Foolery on Mar. 12, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

The new redistricting is enormously promising-- no tortured district lines to retain safe seats. Elections in cohesive areas. They would bring more fairness and accountability-- BUT for the money that can be thrown in the races. It's really too bad.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

What happens if Nancy Pelosi is redistricted out of her seat?

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Good. I can't stand that Bush-accomplice pro-corporate, pro-war Pelosi. I voted for Cindy Sheehan.

Non-representative Pelosi doesn't represent the people in her district now (she ignores us), so it wouldn't make any difference. For example: consider the Iraq War/Occupation and the USA "Patriot" Act as issues on which the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and her constituents are on the record. On both issues, she's voted AGAINST the stated views of the people she is supposed to represent. The day after Bush's terrorist attack on Iraq was launched, as thousands upon thousands of Pelosi's constituents were marching in the streets of San Francisco protesting the unilateral attack, Pelosi was in congress condemning the demonstrators. She voted that very day for a resolution declaring "unequivocal support and appreciation to the president...for his firm leadership and decisive action." And she used her leadership position in Congress to urge others to sign on to the resolution.

That's really "keeping a check" on Bush, isn't it!

Pelosi represents her corporate owners, which she works for. All she wants at election time is: people's votes and their $$$$$$$$$$, which many are still gullible and naive enough to give her. And most do so just because she has a D behind her name. She's from their "Dem team" and that's all that matters to most. That party-line brainwashing/indoctrination. If one asked most of the voters about her Bush-enabling voting record, you'd likely get a blank stare followed by: "well, let's see, I don't think I know her voting record."

Posted by Sam on Mar. 14, 2010 @ 1:02 am

Nancy consistently wins re-election to her seat, usually with more than 70% of the vote. It seems that if more people held your POV then she'd have been replaced a long time ago.

Newsflash - San Francisco consists of much more than the Haight and the Inner Mission. Nancy will be in that seat until she either dies or retires and then someone else much like her will pick it up.

Posted by Lucretia the Trollop on Mar. 15, 2010 @ 2:20 pm