2021 Redistricting

Over 20 organizations are requesting to extend the application deadline for the California Citizens Redistricting Commission from August 9 to September 30. As of now, Latinos, Asian Americans and women are underrepresented in the >30,000 application pool: “About two thirds of the applicants are white, although white people make up only about 37 percent of the state’s population. Six percent are Asian American or Pacific Islander, compared to nearly 16 percent of the general population. Less than 13 percent of applicants are Latino, the state’s largest ethnic group at 39 percent of the population. Women make up just under 39 percent of applicants. ‘That’s a problem because district lines need to be drawn so they don’t disenfranchise people from any ethnic, regional and political groups’, [Rey López-Calderón, executive director of government watchdog group California Common Cause] said. ‘It’s important that the commissioners be diverse and representative of the state so they can draw districts fairly’. He attributes the decrease in applications to a lack of attention in the media and a shortened application period.”


Bay Area

Five of nine Bay Area counties saw a rise in their homeless census (with a range from 7% in SF to 43% in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties).


Congressional Races

Republican incumbent Duncan Hunter (Congressional District 50) is again deploying Islamophobic attacks against CDT-supported Ammar Campa-Najjar, including tying him to Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who themselves have been the subject of mutliple racist and Islamophobic attacks.


In the Central Valley, David Valadao may be weighing a run to take back his seat from Democratic incumbent TJ Cox in CD21.


Scott Lay offered some detailed analysis of CDT-supported Hayward City Councilmember Aisha Wahab’s now challenge to Eric Swalwell in CD15 and Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria’s challenge to Jim Costa in CD16. It’s a longer, but worthy, read included below.



CalMatters made a build-a-budget tool to let people tinker with revenue and spending to develop a 2019/2020 budget. They also published a fantastic, in-depth article with infographics on the legislation to reform police deadly use-of-force.


The bail industry qualified a ballot initiative that would protect cash bail from the recent legislative reform via the state constitution.



Early Childhood Education 

High-quality early childhood education (ECE) is universally recognized as a critical driver of social and economic mobility. Governor Newsom committed more state investments in support, but recent reports from the Economic Policy Institute and Stanford University document how we still have a ways to go to ensure high-quality ECE for all children in California and fair pay for early childhood educators, respectively. The California Budget and Policy Center takes a look at how early childhood home visits by social workers and nurses improves outcomes for children and how state policymakers can support expansion to meet the needs of families across the state. 


The State of Latinx Communities in California

CDT ally Mindy Romero published a report showing that Latinos are faring worse than other Californians on nearly every single issue, including poverty, housing, etc. “‘The well-being of Latinos impacts the overall well-being of the state. We need to start having some really honest conversations.’”



Scott Lay’s analysis of the CD15 and CD16 races in The Nooner:

“SWALWELL, COSTA FACE CHALLENGES: As you know, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) stepped off the presidential stage this week after lagging in the polls and sluggish fundraising. In doing so, he announced that he would seek re-election to CA15, the Hayward-San Ramon Valley district he has represented since ousting Fortney “Pete” Stark (D) in 2012.  During Swalwell’s April 8-July 8 presidential bid, Hayward councilwoman Aisha Wahab (D) announced that, because it appeared to be an open seat, she was running. She further said that she would make a decision on whether to pursue the race if Swalwell ended up seeking the congressional re-election instead of the presidential nomination.


Wahab has not directly said that she’s continuing to pursue the congressional bid, now against Swalwell. However, all indications are that she is, given that she retweeted messages from supporters around the June presidential debate suggesting that Swalwell should “pass the torch,” using the words he did in the debate to critique Joe Biden. She also retweeted a message by Bay Area News Group reporter Casey Tolan that BART director Lateefah Simon said “Women of color shouldn’t be scared to dip our toes into these highly contested races, even if we believe there’s a strong incumbent.”


It sounds like Wahab is in it to win it. But, let’s talk about another race and tie the two together.


You may have seen in yesterday’s Nooner that eight-term Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) has drawn a Democratic challenger in CA16–Fresno councilwoman Esmeralda Soria. Soria is a graduate of UC Davis Law (go King Hall! — well after me–interview/profile of Soria, class of ’11), and has worked in the state Capitol as a legislative fellow and a staffer. She is on the faculty at Fresno City College, teaching Latino politics and areas of the law and judicial process. Her ballot label would likely be Councilmember/Professor/Attorney or the some mix thereof, and “Professor” is not just through the “give me one class to teach so I can use it on my ballot label” employed by many candidates.


Costa’s CA16 is a likely Democratic district, albeit not as strongly so as Swalwell’s CA15. In CA16, H. Clinton beat Trump in 2016 by 21.6 points and in CA15, Clinton ended up with 27.2 points over Trump. Essentially, the Democrats have to have a colossal screw-up to lose one of these seats. Of course, with the top-two primary and some bad candidates in recent cycles, both parties have had meltdowns.


I’m going to be diving in deeply on both districts this week for Nooner Premium, including the likelihood of a November top-two general consisting of only Democrats. For everyone though, I wanted to pause on the general political dynamic.


Assuming Wahab stays in the CA15 race, we have two women of color running against white guys. While CA15 there is less of a stark (sorry Pete) political difference between the two, in CA16, Soria is taking on a very prominent “Blue Dog” Democrat. These are fiscally conservative Democrats that hold a key negotiating role in which bills make it to the House Floor and with which Speaker Nancy Pelosi must balance with the liberal members of her caucus. There are currently 27 members of the Blue Dog Democrats. Some have left the coalition to be Republicans, while others including Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) have left over other policy disagreements or when attaining leadership roles.


It is no secret that with all of the talk of a “blue wave” in 2018, there was also another wave–women of color capturing seats traditionally held by men. While the most prominent is Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez’s defeat over House Democratic Caucus chair Joe Crowley in NY-14, others include Rashida Tlaib in MI-13 (John Dingel followed by Brenda Jones for part of 2018 after his death) and Ilhan Omar in MN-05 (Keith Ellison). Tlaib and Omar are the first Muslim-American women to serve in Congress.


While all three of these candidates are progressives, their successful elections appear to have been less about specific issues that contrasted with those of their predecessors, but rather the desire by Democratic primary voters to advance to the general election in safe Dem seats. These voters instead seemed to be looking for something “new” with a more aggressive political stance by their representatives.


I see a strong correlation with the challenges faced by Eric Swalwell and Jim Costa respectively by Aisha Wahab, believed to be the first Afghan-American woman elected in the U.S. and Esmeralda Soria, who would be the first Latino-American elected to Congress from California’s Central Valley. The citizen voting-age population (CVAP) of Latino residents in the district in the 2010 Census was 40.7% and 58% overall. In the 2020 Census, the CVAP number has undoubtedly increased since as more Latino citizens reached 18 and are eligible to vote.


Costa clearly feels more threatened than in cycles since the 2011 redistricting, rolling out “no kidding” endorsements like that of Senator Dianne Feinstein.


I’ve written before for Nooner Premium on CA15 that it’s a demographically interesting district. You may have seen Swalwell’s comments on the presidential stage that he represents one of the most diverse cities in America, which is true. However, he’s referring to Hayward in the western side of the district, where Wahab captured the most votes in the 2018 council race.


I don’t have current CVAP numbers by city, but Hayward is around 25% of the district. In short, the western side of the district is very different than the higher income majority white and East Asian populations in the San Ramon Valley, with lots of growth of working-class Middle Eastern/South Asian (Afghan in particular) and Filipino residents in an area that was historically white and African-American blue collar workers associated with World War II manufacturing growth, like many other East Bay areas.


There are rumors that Ocasia-Cortez is planning or considering a trip to CA16 to endorse Soria, which would obviously elevate the profile of the 37-year-old Latina and draw an activist and demographic contrast to the 67-year-old Costa. Costa is of Portuguese descent and comes from a third-generation Valley farming family. Soria grew up in Lindsay about 65 miles to the southeast of Fresno in Tulare County as the daughter of Mexican immigrant farmworkers.


I need not tell you of the longstanding conflict between European immigrant (often Portuguese and Basque) farmers and Latin-American farmworkers in the Central Valley. Lindsay, where Soria grew up, is in the 22nd congressional district, represented by congressman and dairyman Devin Nunes, one of the two targets of Democrats who tried in 2018 to knock off the controversial Nunes with the very well-funded Andrew Janz, but came up 5.4% short.


These are shaping up to be the most interesting primaries among California Democrats in 2020, and it’s possible one or both could carry-forward to a mano-a-mano face-off come November…..


Buckle up and get ready for the ride!”