CDT partner the California League of Conservation Voters released their 2018 legislative scorecard. This is a critical tool for tracking the voting records of state senators and assemblymembers, along with scorecards by our partners California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), Courage Campaign, California Labor Federation and Planned Parenthood.
In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 11, the Voters First Act, creating the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission that redrew legislative and congressional district lines following the 2010 Census. Previously, district lines were drawn by the state legislature, a practice widely known — and practiced in a great majority of states — to lead to partisan gerrymandering protecting incumbents who do not reflect their regions in values or demographics.
The Commission’s 2011 redistricting has influenced elections since, with Democrats growing to supermajorities in the state legislature and flipping formerly Republican-held Congressional seats in the Inland Empire in 2012 and 2014, and San Diego, Orange County and the Central Valley in 2018. While several other factors — including CDT’s decade of investments in these regions — contributed to these shifts, the Commission’s work has definitely shaped elections such that now state legislators and representatives better reflect the state’s diverse and more progressive communities. Of course, there is much work to be done to counter other moderating factors, including corporate influences on California Democratic legislators.
The Citizens Redistricting Commission is beginning the process of selecting 14 commissioners to draw new district lines following the 2020 Census. The Commission is made up of 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans and 4 people from neither party. As a comparison, 2018 voter registration was 44% Democratic, 27% No Party Preference, and 25% Republican. With Democrats underrepresented and Republicans overrepresented on the Commission, it will be critical to ensure that the 5 Democrats are progressive, the 4 commissioners who are not affiliated with a party reflect the state, and both groups are culturally competent enough to draw lines effectively.
Demographics Are Not Destiny
Lisa Garcia Bedolla, Director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley and CDT ally, likes to say, “Demographics are not destiny.” In a demonstration that demographics alone will not ensure politics become more progressive, the California Republican Party elected its first woman and Latinx as its chair, plus an Asian American as vice chair and an openly gay man as treasurer. Republicans and corporate interests know that they must secure more support in New Majority communities to retain and gain power in California, so our investments in progressive groups in these communities are even more crucial to continuously engage and educate voters.
CDT ally and progressive champion Senator Holly Mitchell — whose term ends in 2022 — has announced her candidacy for Los Angeles County Supervisor in District 2 to replace Mark Ridley-Thomas in 2020. If she is elected as Supervisor, a special election would be held for her Senate seat in 2021. This will be a critical seat for CDT to ensure stays progressive and reflective.
Ammar Campa-Najjar will challenge Republican incumbent Duncan Hunter again in 2020 for the congressional seat in CD50 (San Diego).
A year after San Diego Supervisors voted to support Trump’s lawsuit against California for its sanctuary state policies, they voted to sue the Trump administration over its handling of asylum-seekers.
Criminal Justice Fight
California state legislators introduced over 2,700 bills by last Friday’s deadline. One fight that we are keeping our eye on: competing criminal justice bills addressing policy deadly use of force. Assemblymember Shirley Weber (AD 79 – San Diego) introduced a bill, AB392 — backed by several progressive groups and similar to one that did not pass last year — that narrows the standard for when officers can use lethal force and allows for filing of criminal charges against officers who use lethal force unnecessarily. Moderate Democrat Senator Anna Caballero (SD12 – Salinas) introduced a bill, SB230 — backed by law enforcement — that also narrows the standard when officers can use lethal force and focuses on officer training.
Get Out the 17-Year-Olds Vote!
Assemblymember Evan Low has reintroduced a constitutional amendment to allow seventeen-year-olds to vote. Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds are currently eligible to pre-register to vote when they turn eighteen.