A few weeks ago California's 14-member Independent Redistricting Commission made history and voted to approve new legislative lines for members of Congress, the State Senate, State Assembly, and Board of Equalization.
When the ballot measures creating an independent commission to draw legislative lines were first proposed, both parties were opposed to the idea. Many assumed that Democrats had the most to lose as they controlled the Legislature, and therefore, were it not for the creation of an independent commission, would have controlled the redistricting process.
But it looks like Republicans fared worse than Democrats under the maps just approved by the commission. This is largely due to demographic shifts. While the population grew in areas long-considered Republican strongholds, the groups that grew the most - Latinos and Asians - tend to vote for Democrats. Republicans in the State Senate are running scared as the new legislative lines could mean that Democrats are able to grab the brass ring and garner a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Thanks to California's supermajority requirements - specifically with respect to raising taxes and fees - the ability of Democrats to pick up enough votes to number two-thirds of California's upper house could make a big difference to politics in the Golden State.
So what are unhappy Republicans to do? As this is California, the answer is: circulate a ballot measure. A handful of Republican State Senators have contributed to a proposed ballot measure, which would repeal the newly drafted Senate districts. Former Governor Pete Wilson has also joined the effort. Thus far, those spear heading the effort to eviscerate the new district lines have raised approximately half a million dollars. The biggest donors are the California Republican Party, and groups that tend to support the GOP.
If proponents of the ballot measure gather enough signatures -- which depends in large part on how much money they can raise to pay signature gatherers -- the measure could appear on the June 2012 ballot.
Jessica Levinson writes about the intersection of law and government every Monday. She is a Visiting Professor at Loyola Law School.