The Ro Khanna party


When Ro Khanna, a young, energetic intellectual property lawyer, ran for Congress against Tom Lantos, he was the candidate of the progressives. I liked Khanna, and appreciated his willingness to take on the almost unheard-of task of challenging a longtime incumbent in a Democratic primary. At that point, in 2004, the big issues were the war and the PATRIOT Act, and Khanna was against both. Lantos, who was always hawkish on defense issues (and a die-hard supporter of Israel, no matter what the Israeli government was doing), was clearly out of touch with his district. But Khanna never got much traction, and he lost pretty badly.

Now he’s back, in a new era of top-two primaries (which has its own problems), and in a different district. He’s taking on Mike Honda, who, like Lantos, has been around a while, and hasn’t faced serious opposition in years.

And this time around, it’s not Matt Gonzalez and the left supporting Khanna — it’s Lite Guv Gavin Newsom, who beat Gonzalez for mayor of SF, along with Ron Conway and the tech industry. And  instead of talking about failed US military policies, he’s talking about bringing the interests of Silicon Valley to Washington:

“The premise of this campaign is quite simple,” Khanna told the crowd. “We’ve had quite brilliant people…use technology to change the world. And it’s time that we actually change politics, that Silicon Valley has the potential to do this.” “It’s not just about having a tech agenda. This is about something much deeper — our values, and our ability to use those values to change Washington and the world,” he told them.

Now: It’s not as if Mike Honda has been horrible to Silicon Valley. He’s been involved in all sorts of tech-related issues. But he’s of a different generation, and however stereotypical it may be to say it, there’s a certain level of ageism in the tech world right now. Honda is old; the wealth in the tech world is overwhelmingly young. Politico notes:

Khanna’s decision to take on Honda also reflects a long-standing frustration among many young California pols who have been patiently waiting for older members to exit the state’s congressional delegation. Last year’s induction of an independent redistricting committee and a jungle primary system in which the top two finishers in an open primary advance to the runoff regardless of party affiliation, helped push many senior members into retirement.

Oh, and Honda is very much a pro-labor guy. And tech firms are almost never unionized, and their owners and workers don’t tend to have the same sympathies for labor unions as young activists did 20 years ago.

Politico doesn’t give Khanna much of a shot; it’s going to be a tough battle. Honda’s been around the district forever, and has no apparent scandals or gaffes (and unlike poor Pete Stark, he doesn’t seem to be losing his marbles).

But money talks, and Khanna’s got a lot of it — and in some ways, this will be a new-money-v.-old-Democratic Party, tech v. labor kind of battle that will say a lot about where Bay Area politics are going as the region’s population, and wealth, are dramatically and rapidly changing.

Why the GOP gets away with obstructing Congress


There’s an interesting piece on Calitics talking about what California can teach the nation in terms of ending Republican obstructionism. Robert Cruickshank, as usual, is right on target — and he points to the real problem in Washington. Republicans in the House no longer worry about losing their seats to Democrats; the GOP has been so good about gerrymandering that only maybe 30 or 40 seats in the entire nation are still competitive. What these increasingly right-wing loonies worry about is a primary challenge from an even loonier, even right-wingier candidate — so they refuse to vote for any taxes and they’re willing to bring down the entire economy if that’s what it takes.

The problem is it’s not as easy to fix nationally as it was in California. We’re talking long-term efforts to change governors and state Legislatures so they can rewrite Congressional districts (or create California-style independent redistricting, which I initially opposed but hasn’t turned out so bad). The Constitution mandages redistricting every ten years, but I don’t think there’s any rule saying you can’t draw new districts more often, or that you can’t create a new way of drawing them and put that in place right away. But again, that’s not immediate.

Meanwhile, Obama’s going to have to force as much as he can through a reluctant Congress and do as much as he can with executive orders.

East Bay Endorsements 2012


The East Bay ballot is crowded, with races for mayor, city council and school board in Berkeley and Oakland, plus a long list of ballot measures. We’re weighing in on what we see as the most important races.





This one’s simple: Progressives on the council like Parker, who’s a pretty unbiased attorney. Her challenger, Jane Brunner, is a supporter of Ignacio De La Fuente. Vote for Parker.







In some ways, this is a replay of the 2010 mayor’s race, where Rebecca Kaplan and Jean Quan, running as allies in a ranked-choice voting system, took on and beat Don Perata, the longtime powerbroker who left town soon after his defeat. This time around, it’s Kaplan, the popular incumbent, facing Ignacio De La Fuente, a Perata ally, for the one at-large council seat.

De La Fuente, who currently represents District 3, would have easily won re-election if he stuck to home. But for reasons he’s never clearly articulated, he decided to go after Kaplan. The general consensus among observers: De La Fuente wants to be mayor (he’s tried twice and failed), thinks Quan is vulnerable, and figures winning the at-large seat would give him a citywide base.

It’s a clear choice: Kaplan is one of the best elected officials in the Bay Area, a bright, progressive, practical, and hardworking council member who is full of creative ideas. De La Fuente is an old Perata Machine hack who wanted to kick out Occupy Oakland the first day, wants curfews for youth, and can’t even get his story straight on cutting the size of the Oakland Police Department.

De La Fuente is all about law and order, and he blasts Kaplan for — literally — “coddling criminals.” But actually, as the East Bay Express has reported in detail, De La Fuente, in a fit of anger at the police union, led the movement to lay off 80 cops. And the crime rate in Oakland spiked shortly afterward. Kaplan opposed that motion, and tried later to rehire many of those cops — but De La Fuente objected.

Public safety is one of the top local issues, and Kaplan not only supports community policing (and more cops) but is working on root causes, including the lack of services for people released into Oakland from state prison and county jail. She’s also a strong transit advocate who’s working on new bike lanes and a free shuttle on Broadway. She helped write the county transportation measure, B1. She richly deserves another term — and De La Fuente deserves retirement.





It would be nice to have a Berkeley person as mayor of Berkeley again.

The city’s still among the most progressive outposts in the country — and Mayor Tom Bates, for all his history as one of the leading progressive voices in the state Legislature and a key part of the city’s left-liberal political operation, has taken the city in a decidedly centrist direction. Bates these days is all about development. He’s a big supporter of the sit-lie law (hard to imagine the old Tom Bates ever supporting an anti-homeless measure). He didn’t even seek the mayoral endorsement of Berkeley Citizens Action, which he helped build, and instead hypes the Berkeley Democratic Club, which he used to fight. After ten years, we’re ready for a new Berkeley mayor.

Worthington is the voice of the left on the City Council. He’s an aggressive legislator who is never short of ideas. He’s talking about the basics (holding separate council meetings on major issues so people who want to speak don’t have to wait until midnight), to the visionary (a 21-point plan for revitalizing Telegraph Avenue). He’s against sit-lie and wants developers to offer credible community benefits agreements before they build. We’re with Worthington.

Alameda County ballot measures







The Oakland Zoo does wonders with rescue animals; instead of bringing in creatures from the wild or from other zoos, the folks in Oakland often find ways to take in animals that have been abused or mistreated elsewhere. Measure A1 would impose a tiny ($12 a year) parcel tax to support the public zoo. Critics say the money could go for zoo expansion, but the expansion’s happening anyway. Vote yes.







Quite possibly the most important thing on the East Bay ballot, Measure B1 creates the funding for a long-term transportation plan. Almost half of the money goes for public transit and only 30 percent goes for streets and road. There’s more bicycle money than in any previous transportation plan. Every city in Alameda County supports it. Vote yes.

Berkeley ballot measures







Not our first choice for a street improvement bond, it’s a bit of a hodgepodge that squeaked through a divided council. But the city’s deferred street maintenance is a major problem and this $30 million bond would be a modest step forward.







Berkeley has lost half its public pools in the past two years; the facilities are unusable, and it’s going to take about $20 million to refurbish and rebuild them. This bond measure would allow the city to re-open the Willard Pool and build a new Warm Water Pool — critical for seniors and people rehabbing from injuries. Vote Yes.







Berkeley often does things right, and this is a perfect example: Instead of building new facilities that it can’t afford to operate (hell, SF Recreation and Parks Department), Berkeley is asking for two things from the voters: Bond money to rebuild the municipal pools, and a special tax to provide $600,000 a year for operations. We support both.







Measure P doesn’t raise anyone’s taxes. It’s just a housekeeping measure, mandated by state law, allowing the city to keep spending taxes that were approved years ago for parks, libraries, medical services, services for the disabled, and fire services. Vote yes.







Berkeley’s been collecting utility taxes on cell phones for some time now, but the law that allows it is based on federal language that has changed. So the city needs to make this modest change to continue collecting its existing tax.







The council districts in Berkeley were set when the city adopted district elections in 1986, with a charter amendment saying all future redistricting should conform as closely as possible to the 1986 lines. Nice idea, but the population has changed and it makes sense for the council to have more flexibility with redistricting.







It’s hard to believe that progressive Berkeley, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending similar laws in court, wants to criminalize sitting on the sidewalk. It hasn’t worked in San Francisco, it won’t work in Berkeley. Vote no.







Council Members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguin, and Max Anderson all oppose this plan, which would open up West Berkeley to more office development — with no guarantee of community benefits. Everyone agrees the area needs updated zoning, but this is too loose.







Berkeley has needed a strong sunshine law for years; this one isn’t the greatest, but it’s not the worst, either; it would mandate better agendas (and allow citizens to petition for items to be put on the agenda) for city boards and commissions, would create a new sunshine commission with the ability to sue the city to enforce the law, and would require elected and appointed officials to make public their appointments calendars.







This sounds like a great idea — mandate that the city present certified financial audits of its obligations before issuing any more debt. In practice, it’s a way to make it harder for Berkeley to raise taxes or issue bonds. Vote no.

Oakland ballot measures







Measure J would authorize $475 million in bonds for upgrading school facilities. This one’s a no-brainer; vote yes.


40 percent reporting: Not a lot of change


Witrh 40 percent of the precincts reporting, there’s been very little change in the results, which is surprising: Typically the absentees don’t reflect the election-day turnout. But Prop. A is still going down by huge margins, Prop. B is still winning (and at this point, that one’s probably in the bag, striking a blow against the privatization of public resources and offering a vote of no-confidence in the direction of the city’s Rec-Park department).

It appears likely that there will be an expensive November race for Assembly in D19, with the downtown-funded (but otherwise unknown) Democrat Michael Breyer who ran an almost-Republican campaign heading for a second-place finish against Assessor Phil Ting.

And there’s no change in the results for the DCCC.

I’m a little surprised (and disappointed) that Gabriel Haaland, a longtime incumbent, isn’t making the cut this time, and I’m surprised (and pleased) that newcomer Justin Morgan, a public-health physician, is still in the top 14 on the East Side. Zoe Dunning and Matt Dorsey, two very visible LGBT leaders (she on DADT, he on same-sex marriage) are running strong; Dorsey’s in the progressive camp, and Dunning, a former military officer, is more conservative. School Board member Hyrda Mendoza isn’t making the cut, either, which is odd for a citywide elected official.

At this point, it appears that theSF Democratic Party will be a more conservative organization than we’ve been used to over the past four years. At most, the progressives will have 14 or 15 votes out of 32 (24 elected and eight ex-officio). There are plenty of reasons for that, among them the retirement of some longtime progressive members (Aaron Peskin, Jane Morrison, Milton Marks); the redistricting that created a West Side district very few progressives could compete in — and the move by the more conservative elements of the party to run a slate that included Dufty and Cohen.

Things could still change; I could be wrong. But I don’t think I am.

Two things to watch for in CA


There are two things that could be really significant around the state tonight (and no, I’m not talking about which liberal, balding Jewish man wins the primary in the San Fernando Valley, which will almost certainly be replayed in the fall). There’s a real chance that, thanks to redistricting, the Democrats could pick up enough seats to win a super-majority in the state Senate — meaning they could pass new taxes despite GOP recalcitrance. And while it’s unlikely that the Dems will get a two-thirds majority in the Assembly, there are a few Republicans out there who are starting to question the Grover Norquist line.

So what happens if, say, both houses approve an oil-severance tax or a restoration of the vehicle license fee? Will the Guv, who insisted in his campaign that he’d accept “no new taxes without a vote of the people” going to veto it? Seriously — is Jerry Brown going to veto an oil-severance tax?

Then there’s the Second Congressional District, where corporate Dem Jared Huffman is almost certainly going to come in first — but Norman Solomon, who is way closer politically to outgoing Rep. Lynn Woolsey, has a good chance of coming in second and making it to the November election. In which case the North Coast will see a classic fight between the left and the center of the Democratic Party, in one of the most progressive districts in the country — and it will attract national attention.

By the way: I’ve been checking out so many blogs tonight that I can’t remember where I saw this, but: The huge turnout in Wisconsin indicates that sharp political distinctions, clear-cut lines and hard fights, improve voter turnout. These cautious, don’t-take-risks pols shouldn’t be surprised that hardly anyone wants to vote for them.

Does Malia Cohen want to dump Potrero Hill?


Since the dawn of district elections in the 1970s, Potrero Hill and Bayview have been part of the same district. Of the four supervisors elected to represent that district — Bob Gonzalez and Doris Ward the first time around, Sophie Maxwell and Malia Cohen after the return of district elections — three have come from Potrero Hill. All three also won substantial votes from Bayview Hunters Point.

But now Sup. Cohen apparently wants to kick Potrero Hill out of District 10.

At the Redistricting Task Force meeting March 29, Cohen appeared in person, and during public comment said that she wanted to see the Portola district added to D10. That’s a huge change — under most of the proposals floating around, Portola would go into D9. Cohen did not directly address the obvious, inevitable impact of her suggestion, but it’s clear that if Portola goes into D10, Potrero Hill will have to go somewhere else. That’s simple math.

The immediate political impact would be to make D10 more conservative — and stick more of the progressive Potrero voters into either D6 (which would then have to sluff off what — more of the Mission into D9? The Tenderloin into D3? What a mess.)

The folks on Potrero Hill don’t seem happy about this at all. Tony Kelly, a longtime hill activist (who ran against Cohen for supe last year) sent out the following:

With her comments last night, Supervisor Cohen took the side of the real estate industry, and against her constituents on Potrero Hill. The real estate industry has demanded this exact exchange of Portola for Potrero at every Task Force meeting since early January, as part of their plan to re-shape the Board of Supervisors. Neighborhood residents and organizations from Potrero Hill, Bayview, Portola, and elsewhere have been speaking against it at the same meetings.

The real-estate industry wants, of course, to force as many progressives as possible into as few districts as possible, to try to make it easier to elect conservatives from D10, D11 and D1, to go with the moderate/conservative bloc already in D2, D4, and D8 — and guess what? Six vote majority.

I’ve been trying all day to reach Cohen in her office and by cell. So far no response. I’ll let you know if she calls me.

Key redistricting meeting March 7


The Redistricting Task Force, which is drawing new lines for the Board of Supervisors, meets March 7 at City Hall, and supporters of the Community Unity Plan map will be presenting the proposal and making the case for a set of lines that dozens of community-based organizations have spent months putting together. The idea is to look not just at any one district but a the city as a whole — and to ensure that the downtown types, who would like to corral all the progressive voters into a handful of districts, don’t get their way.

The meeting’s at 6 pm in Room 406. If you want to check out the latest version of the Community Unity Map, it’s here. If you click on it, you can expand it and see where all the street boundaries are. The current districts are oulined in dark black lines; the proposed districts are in color.

A new district elections map


There’s only about a month left before the Redistricting Task Force starts to finalize a new map for supervisorial districts in San Francisco. You can look at the draft map the task force is working on here. The Guardian held a forum on the topic Jan 26 and that’s lead to an alternative community map, which is here. The group that worked on the draft community map is continuing to meet, and I’d love to hear more feedback on it. You can email comments to or just post them as comments here.

District lines: a community alternative


Early in April, a nine-member task force most San Franciscans have never heard of will draw lines that could change local politics for a decade. The Redistricting Task Force is using the 2010 U.S. Census data to adjust supervisorsial districts to reflect changes in the city’s population. Some shifts are dramatic — the area now covered by District 6 has some 25,000 new residents, and will have to shrink. Others will have to grow. And the way the new boundaries are set could affect the representation of ethnic groups, the political leanings of the board members, and the ability of progressives to pass legislation.

The task force has held a series of hearings on individual district lines. The S.F. Board of Realtors and other downtown groups are drawing their own maps. But almost nobody on the left has been looking at the city as a whole and how the different district lines can impact our ability to get six votes.

As campaign consultant David Looman puts it, “what downtown wants is clear — they want to quarantine all the progressives in districts five, six and nine, so they can control the rest.” What do the rest of us want?

The Guardian held a forum on the topic Jan 26, and about 70 people from across the wide rainbow that is the city’s progressive moment attended. The goal: To create a community alternative to what downtown, the Mayor’s Office, and possibly a majority of the task force members is suggesting.


The map above represents a first draft. Fernando Marti, a community architect and housing activist, did the heavy lifting, looking for ways to keep ethnic communities, neighborhoods, and other so-called communities of interest together, while still avoiding the downtown quarantine.

It’s not an easy task, and there was a lot of discussion around some of the lines. Many of the people in the room were unhappy with the border between District 8 and District 6; in the next draft, that will probably be moved back from Valencia to Guerrero.

There was discussion about whether Japantown should be in District 1 or District 5, whether Portola should be in District 9 or split up, how the District 6 lines should be drawn, and much more.

It’s a work in progress — but we’re publishing it to get some feedback, to let people know that the process is going on, and to let progressive and independent neighborhood activists know that the task force decision, which can’t be appealed or overturned, is critical to the city’s future.

Redistricting: A Guardian Forum


The new supervisorial districts could change the makeup of the board and have a lasting impact on local politics. There’s been a lot of discussion about individual districts — but not so much talk about how the new map will affect progressive politics citywide. We’re holding a Guardian forum Jan. 26 to look at that issue, discuss different scenarios and come up with some alternatives. Panelists include Calvin Welch (who helped draw the first district elections lines in 1976), Quintin Mecke (who was on the redistricting panel 10 years ago when the current lines were drawn), Norman Fong (who runs the Chinatown Community Development Center and Fernando Marti (a community architect and housing activist who has some proposals for new lines).

If you’re interested and want to join the discussion, the event starts at 6 p.m. at the Mission Campus of City College, 1125 Valencia. We’ll be done by 8 p.m., I promise.

Redrawing the map


The most important political change of 2012 may not be the appointment of a new District 5 supervisor or the inauguration of a new mayor and sheriff. A process moving slowly through a little-known city task force could wind up profoundly shifting the makeup, and balance of power, on the Board of Supervisors — and hardly anyone is paying attention, yet.

The Redistricting Task Force is in the process of drawing new lines for the supervisorial districts, as mandated every 10 years when new census data is available. The nine-member body is made up of three appointees each by the board, the mayor and the Elections Commission. While mandated to draw equal-sized districts that maintain “communities of interest,” the board has almost unchecked authority to decide which voters are in which districts.

While it’s difficult to draw 11 bad districts in San Francisco, it’s entirely possible to shift the lines to make it more difficult to elect progressives — something many groups out there are anxious to do.




Downtown and pro-landlord groups are circulating their own draft maps, attempting to influence the outcome. Their goal is hardly a secret: If progressive voters can be concentrated in a small number of districts — say, districts 5, 6, and 9 — it’s more likely that a majority of the board will be moderates and conservatives.

The task force has looked at 10 “visualizations” prepared by a consultant, and each of them had some alarming aspects. For example, the visualizations mostly pushed such conservative areas as Seacliff and Presidio Heights into District 1, which is represented by progressive Sup. Eric Mar.

On Jan. 4, those drafts were replaced by a single working draft map, which is now on the task force’s hard-to-find website ( — and it’s not as bad as the earlier versions. The working draft keeps Seacliff and Presidio Terrace in District 2 — which share similar demographics.

“The working families in the Richmond don’t belong in the same community of interest as the millionaires with homes overlooking the ocean,” Mar told us.

But there are other changes that some may find alarming. The more conservative Portola neighborhood, which is now in District 9, would be included in District 11, while D9 would pick up the more liberal north Mission. That would make D9 an even safer progressive district — but make D11 harder for a progressive like the incumbent, John Avalos, to win.

The task force has been holding hearings on each of the districts — but there’s been little discussion about how the new lines will affect the makeup of the board, and the politics and policy of the city, as a whole.



The driving force behind the changes in the districts is the rather dramatic population shift on the east side of the city. Most of the districts, census data show, have been relatively stable. But since 2000, 24,591 more people have moved into D6 — a nearly 30 percent increase — while 5,465 have moved into D10 (a 7.5 percent increase) and 5,414 into D11 (8.7 percent). D9 saw the biggest population decrease, losing 7,530 voters or 10.3 percent.

The huge growth in D6 has been the result of a boom in new high-end condos in the Rincon Hill and SoMa neighborhoods, and it’s changed the demographics of that district and forced the city to rethink how all of the surrounding districts are drawn.

No matter what scenario you look at, D6 has to become geographically smaller. Most of the maps circulating around suggest that the north Mission be shifted into D9 and parts of the Tenderloin move into districts 3 and 5. But those moves will make D6 less progressive, and create a challenge: The residents of the Tenderloin don’t have a lot in common with the millionaires in their high-rise condos.

As progressive political consultant David Looman noted, “The question is, how do you accommodate both the interests and concerns of San Francisco’s oldest and poorest population and San Francisco’s youngest, hippest, and very prosperous population?”

The working map is far from final. By law, the population of every district has to be within 1 percent of the median district population, or up to 5 percent if needed to prevent dividing or diluting the voting power of minority groups and/or keeping established neighborhoods together.

Under the current draft, eight of the 11 districts are out of compliance with the 1 percent standard, and District 7 has 5.35 percent more residents than the mean, so it will need to change. But task force Chair Eric McDonnell told the Guardian that he expects the current map to be adopted with only slight modifications following a series of public meetings over the next couple months.

“The tweaks will be about how we satisfy the population equalization, while trying to satisfy communities of interest,” McDonnell said, noting that this balancing act won’t be easy. “I anticipate everyone will be disappointed at some level.”



Some progressives have been concerned that downtown groups have been trying to influence the final map, noting that the San Francisco Board of Realtors, downtown-oriented political consultants David Latterman and Chris Bowman, and others have all created and submitted their own maps to the task force.

McDonnell said the task force considered solutions proposed by the various maps, but he said, “We won’t adopt wholesale anyone’s maps, but we think about what problem they were trying to solve.”

For example, some progressive analysts told us that many of the proposals from downtown make D9 more progressive, even though it is already a solidly progressive seat, while making D8 more conservative, whereas now it is still a contestable district even though moderates have held it for the last decade.

“It would be nice to see the Mission in one district, but it makes D8 considerably more conservative, so it’s a balancing act,” said Tom Radulovich, a progressive activist who ran for D8 supervisor in 2002.

Latterman told us he has a hard time believing the final map will be substantially similar to the current draft. “Once that gets circulated to the neighborhoods, I find that hard to believe it won’t change,” he said. “A lot of the deviations are big and they will have to change.”

He said that he approached the process of making a map as a statistician trying to solve a puzzle, and that begins with figuring out what to do with D6. “I fall back on my technician skills more than the political,” Latterman, who teaches political science at the University of San Francisco, said. “It’s a big puzzle.”

Latterman also disputed concerns that he or others have tried to diminish progressive voting power, saying that’s difficult to do without a drastic remaking of the map, something that few people are advocating.

“It’s hard to make major political changes with the other constraints we have to meet,” he said. “Unless you’re willing to scrap everything we have, it’ll be hard to make major political changes.”

Once the task force approves a final map in April, there’s little that can be done to change it. The map will go to both the Elections Commission and the Board of Supervisors, but neither can alter the boundaries.

“We are the final say,” McDonnell said. That is, unless it is challenged with a lawsuit, which is entirely possible given the stakes.

The redistricting furor


I opposed the measure that created California’s new Redistricting Commission. As we noted in our endorsements at the time:

The commission is hardly a fair body — it has the same number of Republicans as Democrats in a state where there are far more Democrats than Republicans. And most states still draw lines the old-fashioned way, so Prop. 20 could give the GOP an advantage in a Democratic state. States like Texas and Florida, notorious for pro-Republican gerrymandering, aren’t planning to change how they do their districts.

But Prop. 20 passed anyway, and control of the critically important task of drawing lines for state Legislature and Congressional districts fell to an unbalanced group of people with no political experience. They commission held hearings up and down the state, took reams of testimony — and wound up with a map that will probably add six or seven Democratic seats to the Congressional delegation.

That’s not a big surprise: Democratic Party registration is stable in a very blue state, and Republican registration is declining. Any fair redistricting would likely lead to more Democratic seats. And it’s clear that the likes of Phil Burton were not involved: In Los Angeles, two powerful veteran members of the House, Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, wound up in the same district. No matter what happens, the Democratic Party will lose one of its heaviest hitters.

But ProPublica, the national (and generally very solid) investigative reporting group, took on the process and concluded that the Democratic Party managed to wire the deal:

As part of a national look at redistricting, ProPublica reconstructed the Democrats’ stealth success in California, drawing on internal memos, emails, interviews with participants and map analysis. What emerges is a portrait of skilled political professionals armed with modern mapping software and detailed voter information who managed to replicate the results of the smoked-filled rooms of old.

(Memo to the folks at PP: There haven’t been “smoked filled rooms” in this state in quite a while. By the time the 1990 census was done, most of the state (including most public facilities) had strict limits on indoor smoking, and in 2000, nobody smoked in any rooms controlled by any governmental agency. But we get the point.)

The story has set off a furor. Robert Cruikshank, one of my favorite political bloggers, did a fairly brutal takedown on the report:

Of course, the core assumption that California Republicans deserved any new seats is challenged by their collapse in the November 2010 elections. While Republicans across the country were having a banner night, California Republicans lost every single statewide election (including losing the governor’s race by 13 points despite outspending the Democrats nearly 10 to 1). They also failed to pick up a single seat in either the legislature or Congress, losing one Assembly seat. California voters made explicitly clear in November 2010 that they do not like Republicans. That doesn’t appear to have actually influenced the commission’s deliberations, but it does mean the claim that Republicans had any reasonable expectation of gains is ridiculous.

Then Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine, two poltical reporters with at least 50 years of experience between them, did their own examination at CalBuzz, and asked PP’s Jeff Larson to explain himself. The result is scathing:

  Plainly put, their piece is the worst kind of ersatz “investigative” reporting: lots of heavy breathing and over-reaching conclusions drawn from selectively using, twisting or ignoring facts, relying on innuendo and suggestion, and mischaracterizing crucial elements of the story to inferentially allege an impropriety where none exists. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more. Moreover, ProPublica never even called the commission for a comment on its much-ballyhooed “findings.”

In failing the smell test, this clunker promises plenty, but simply doesn’t deliver the goods.

Wow. Harsh.

But the Roberts/Trounstine takedown holds up pretty well. The point they make is that everyone — the GOP, the Dems, city and state officials, groups like the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and more — tried to influence the process. In Northern California, the Dems were apparently a little better at it (and managed to create at least one fake front group to promote the interests of Rep. Jerry McNerney); in the southland, the big Democratic operation of Howard Berman and his brother, Michael, which, as CalBuzz points out, have played a key role in past redistricing efforts (those “smoke-filled rooms”), got totally fucked and Howard may lose his seat after 28 years.

I will say that PP dug up some new info and exposed how the Dems managed to create “communities of interest,” some of them bogus, to try to influence the final lines. But I’ve been watching this stuff for a long time, and I can tell you: Reapportionment is political. Always has been, always will be. There are better lines and worse lines, there are scandalous cases of gerrymandering and political payback and there are (relatively) honest attempts to create districts that are fairly compact and also comply with federal law and don’t dilute minority representation. But there’s no such thing as “clean” reapportionment — and if the Dems and Republicans weren’t trying their best to influence the outcome, they’d be guilty of partisan misconduct.

The CalBuz conclu:

The plain fact is that while Democratic registration has been essentially flat in recent years, Republican registration has fallen into the toilet, and the GOP now represents less than one-third of state voters.

This means that Democrats represent an increasing proportion of the electorate; add to that the fact that decline-to-state independents, the fastest growing bloc of registered voters, also tend to vote Democratic, as we’ve shown previously.

This makes Johnson’s claim that Republicans are entitled to at least their current number of seats, which is the money quote of the Pierce-Larson opus, not only laughable but also intellectually dishonest. Sort of like the whole piece.


The Phil Ting for Assembly campaign is under way


Just a few days after the race for mayor of San Francisco ended, Assessor-Recorder (and mayoral candidate) Phil Ting began his next campaign — for state Assembly.

The Westside district now represented by Fiona Ma opens up in 2012, when Ma will be termed out. And Ting was moving to set himself up as the frontrunner almost as soon as the ink had dried on on the final results from the mayoral election (where he finished a disappointing 11th, behind even Green Party candidate Terry Baum)., which had been the official website for Phil Ting for Mayor, has been switched over to Phil Ting for state Assembly. I got an email Dec. 7 inviting me to a reception for his Assembly campaign; several prominent local politicians told me Ting had called even earlier than that to ask for support.

And he’s getting it — both state Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano are on his already-impressive list of endorsments.

Which is no surprise: The 12th District (which will become the 19th under the new redistricting) is the more conservative side of San Francisco, and by the standards of the state Assembly, Ting would be a pretty solid progressive. He actually understands tax policy, and he’s made a huge issue of removing the commercial property loophole from Prop. 13.

So now comes the interesting part: Who’s going to run against him?

Ting has a relatively cordial relationship with Mayor Ed Lee, and didn’t spend much time in the campaign attacking the appointed incumbent. He’s a former executive director of the Asian Law Caucus, where Lee worked in his early days as a tenant and civil-rights lawyer. There shouldn’t be any reason for the mayor or his pals to try to drum up a candidate to take on Ting … or should there?

Ting is not an enemy of the Willie Brown-Rose Pak folks. But he’s not a loyal ally, either. The most obvious conservative/pro-downtown candidate, one the mayor and his big-business pals could count on, would be Sup. Carmen Chu. I couldn’t get her on the phone, but in the past she’s been only lukewarm about running. The other strong potential candidate would be Sup Sean Elsbernd, but he told me he’s absolutely not running. “I was very interested during my first few years on the Board, but since my son was born, there’s no way I would consider it,” he said. “I am not a candidate and shouldn’t be talked about as a candidate.”

So will we see a “Run, Carmen, Run” campaign? Or will Brown and Pak think about it and realize that giving the mayor an appointment to Ting’s office might be a real advantage? Would they rather control a state Assemblymember — of the county assessor?

Stayed tuned to this one.


Campaign for the Woolsey legacy


Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Marin, Sonoma counties) is a rarity on Capitol Hill. She’s a lawmaker with guts who speaks from the heart.

Whether focusing on children and seniors at home or the victims of war far away, Woolsey insists on advocating for humane priorities. Several hundred times, she has gone to the House floor to speak out against war. She stands for peace, social justice, human rights, a green future, and so much more.

Last week, after more than 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Woolsey announced that she will not run for reelection next year.

She has set a high bar for representing the region in Congress. It’s a high bar that I intend to clear.

Back in January, I wrote in the Guardian that “if Rep. Woolsey doesn’t run in 2012, I will” (“Why I may run for Congress,” 1/25/2011).

At the time I noted that “alarm is rising as corporate power escalates at the intersection of Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.” I cited such realities as “endless war, massive giveaways to Wall Street, widening gaps between the rich and the rest of us, erosion of civil liberties, outrageous inaction on global warming … “

Six months later — with war even more endless, giveaways to Wall Street even more massive, and overall conditions even worse — my grassroots campaign for Congress is well underway.

Redistricting lines are in flux this month, but the political lines are clear as corporate Democrats salivate for this congressional seat. They want it bad.

This is a grassroots vs. Astroturf campaign. I’m facing opposition with a long history of big corporate funding. But we have something much better going for us: a genuine progressive campaign that’s growing from the ground up.

Already, more than 750 people have made donations to my campaign (we topped $100,000 weeks ago) and nearly 300 have signed up as volunteers. You’re invited to join in at

We have to hold the North Bay congressional seat for the values that Lynn Woolsey has represented. That means directly challenging the undue corporate power that stands in the way of real change.

As a member of Congress, I want to work on building coalitions to fight for a wide-ranging progressive agenda — including guaranteed health care, full employment, workers’ rights, green sustainability, full funding for public education, fundamental changes in federal spending priorities, and an end to perennial war.

On Capitol Hill, I will insist that we need to bring our troops and tax dollars home — and that caving in to Wall Street and polluters and enemies of civil liberties is unacceptable.

Every day, the ideals we cherish are up against what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism,” running amok in tandem with corporate greed.

Nuclear power is emerging as one of the big issues in this campaign. I reject the claim that we need to wait for more “studies” from nuclear-friendly federal agencies before closing down the likes of California’s Diablo Canyon and San Onofre reactors. We need to fight for serious public investment in renewable energy, conservation, and a nuclear-free future.

Overall, the obstacles to gaining electoral power for progressives may seem daunting. But the narrow definition of politics as “the art of the possible” has led to disaster. What we need is the art of the imperative. 

Norman Solomon is national co-chair of the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign, launched by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. For more information go to


Will partisan agendas shape the redrawing of political lines? — UPDATED


UPDATED BELOW In the midst of a political realignment at City Hall that is still shaking out, the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee is today (Thurs/23) considering appointments to the Redistricting Task Force, the body that will redraw supervisorial districts using the latest census data. And its choices will say a great deal about the role of integrity and impartiality in the new “politics of civility.”

This commission will arguably have more influence on the city’s political dynamics over the next decade than any other, so overtly partisan appointees should be viewed with great suspicion. Larry Bush at CitiReport did a nice rundown of the applicants and their backgrounds, but the Rules Committee will be where the real action is.

President David Chiu stacked the committee with a conservative majority (Sups. Mark Farrell and Sean Elsbernd) and named a chair (Sup. Jane Kim) whose political loyalties are tough to peg right now. Will she seek an appointee who doesn’t have a political agenda, or will she seek to reward a partisan ally like applicant Paul Hogarth, who worked on her campaign and writes for, a propaganda outlet for Kim-backers Randy Shaw and the Willie Brown/Rose Pak/David Ho cabal that elevated Ed Lee into Room 200 and is desperately trying to keep him there.

There are other problematic applicants as well, including Potrero View Publisher Steven Moss, who ran for supervisor in D10 last year and has shown a penchant for seeking payback against his perceived enemies (including the Guardian, which ran articles questioning his residency status). Applicant Ron Dudum has also shown a vindictive streak – following up his failed D2 supervisorial campaigns with an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the ranked-choice voting system – that would make him a worrisome figure to have on this task force.

So far, three people have been named to the body by the Elections Commission: gadfly/policy wonk David Pilpel, Google attorney Melissa Tidwell, and Mark Schreiber, the managing general partner of Cooper White & Cooper. So already, this is tilting toward a business community bias that will probably get worse once Mayor Ed Lee makes his three appointments to the nine-member commission.

Given how the Rules Committee is stacked, its three recommendations are likely to raise questions that the full board will need to put to rest when it takes the matter up on Tuesday. Voters need to have faith that partisan agendas aren’t shaping the city’s most important political lines, and now is the moment to ensure they have that confidence.

UPDATE: The committee voted unanimously to recommend Eric McDonnell, the chief operating officer of United Way of the Bay Area; Jenny Lam, director of community initiatives for Chinese for Affirmative Action and a board member of Chinatown Community Children’s Center; and Mike Alonso, a “security professional” with Corporate Security Services who got his law degree from New College in 2007 but never worked as a lawyer.

Keep San Francisco odd!


The Redistricting Commission maps will be finalized in the next few weeks, and the big news for San Francisco is the loss of a state Senate seat. (That, and the fact that the Assembly and Senate may both become more centrist, thanks to the new lines and the top-two primary system.) You can check out the maps here.

There’s not a lot anyone can do about the loss of the Senate seat; the population growth in California is in the Central Valley and the Southland. But there’s another story that San Franciscans need to pay attention to, and it’s all about numbers. Odd and even numbers.

Here’s how it works:

San Francisco now has two senators, Leland Yee and Mark Leno. Leno represents the East side and Marin, Yee the West side and parts of San Mateo. Leno’s district is Number 3; Yee’s is Number 8.

Yee’s term runs until 2014, Leno’s until 2012.

The commission hasn’t put numbers on all the new districts yet. But the way the law works, if the new Senate district has an even number, then Yee stays in office — reopresenting his current district — until 2014 (unless he gets elected mayor), Leno’s gone in 2012 and can’t run for the new seat until 2014. Which means for two years, half of San Francisco has no representation in the state Senate.

On the other hand, if the district gets an odd number, Leno runs again in 2012 for what will be his seat, Yee either gets electred mayor this fall (in which case there’s a special election for his seat) or he stays in office until 2014 (when he would be termed out anyway) and for the next three years, San Francisco still has two senators.

Remember that among Leno’s East side constituents are a disproportionate number of people of color, low-income people and LGBT people. That simple decision — on a seat number — could cut them out of representation.

For the record: This isn’t about Leno vs. Yee. If we had to choose one of the two of them for our state Senator, I suspect I’d go with Leno — but that’s not going to happen. It’s Yee AND Leno or Yee alone.

And it’s not about saving Leno’s seat, either. If he gets the bad number, he’ll find something else to do — Gov. Brown needs help, Nancy Pelosi’s going to retire soon, the filing deadline for the mayor’s office isn’t until August … if you like Leno, he’ll still be around. If you don’t like him, he’ll still be around.

It’s a question of the better deal for the city, and an odd number is clearly the better deal. The commission is having a hearing at Fort Mason June 27, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., so it might be worth showing up and saying: Keep San Francisco odd!


So an even-number designation screws the poorer half of San Francisco — and an odd-number designation hurts nobody.

Ten good bills for 2011


The news in Sacramento is mostly bad — Jerry Brown still can’t find the Republicans he needs to pass a budget, although maybe the redistricting process will help him. But it’s not all bad. Some important bills passed their houses of origin in the past week, and with Democrats controlling both the Senate and the Assembly and a Democratic governor, there’s actually a chance they could become law.

At the top of my list is the measure by Darrel Steinberg that could allow counties and school districts to raise a wide range of taxes. It is, as Sen. Mark Leno notes, a “game changer.” And it only requires a simple majority of both houses. (I wonder: Could the San Francisco supervisors put a tax measure on the ballot in November on the assumption that the Steinberg bill will be in effect by then?) If the GOP won’t budge on the budget, the Dems need to at least give local government the chance to find the resources to keep essential services running.

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano got AB 9, also known as Seth’s Law, approved on the Assembly floor. The measure, named in memory of Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old gay student from Tehachipi who suffered years of harassment and abuse, gives school districts the tools (and the mandate) to address bullying.

The Assembly also approved Ammiano’s AB 889, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which gives domestic workers the same basic labor-law protections as other California workers, and AB 1081, the TRUST Act, which would allow California counties to opt out of S-Comm, the awful federal law that seeks to force local cops to become ICE agents.

Over at the state Senate, Mark Leno won approval for 11 bills, including SB 914, which would mandate that police get a warrant before searching the data on a person’s cell phone. It’s crazy that SB 914 is even necessary, but the state Supreme Court has ruled that, while you need a warrant to search a personal computer, you don’t need one to search a cell phone. SB 790 makes it easier for local agencies to form Community Choice Aggregation systems. SB 819 would give the state more authority to take firearms away from people who have committed felonies or have been institutionalized for mental illness. (The NRA’s going to hate this bill — felons have the right to guns, too …) SB 233 — another one I really like — gives local government the right to impose vehicle license fees.

Sen. Leland Yee won overwhelming support for SB 8, which mandates that foundations affiliated with the University of California, Cal State or community college campuses abide by the same public records laws as the schools themselves. (The Sarah Palin speaking fees bill.) SB 364, which requires corporations that get tax breaks for job creation to prove they’ve actually created jobs. SB 9 — another one that ought to be a no-brainer — ends the practice of giving juvenile offenders sentences of life without parole.

Seems likely all of these will emerge from the remaining house — and then we’ll see whether Brown is willing to sign progressive legislation.


Will SF lose a senate seat?


The new draft lines for state Assembly and Senate seats are out, and it’s not good news for San Francisco. It’s particularly bad news for Sen. Mark Leno, who could potentially be reapportioned out of a seat.

It’s a tricky process, but here’s how I understand it will work. The draft lines now, which put Leno and Sen. Leland Yee in the same seat (covering all of San Francisco and some of San Mateo County, down to Colma), will be updated June 9th. At some point a few weeks later, the redistricting commission will also decide whether to give the San Francisco seat (just one, we used to have two) an even or an odd number. If it’s an even number, it’s Yee’s seat — and as of Jan. 1, 2013, Leno is out of office for two years, at which point he could run again for the new seat.

Of course, if it’s an odd number, then it’s Leno’s seat, and Yee would finish his term representing his old seat — assuming he’s not elected mayor, which would create a vacancy in a seat that might only exist for a year.

More important in the long run than the individuals is the harsh reality that this will be a more conservative seat (tougher, say, for Tom Ammiano to win). The Marin County seat will be more conservative, too. And San Francisco will have only one state senator.

Ammiano still has an Assembly seat, but it includes more of the Peninsula.

The whole process is going to turn the state Legislature more conservative. We’ll likely get more Republicans in a state that has an overwhelming Democratic majority. And it’s not as if the new maps are free of what used to be called gerrymandering: “When voters get a look at the new districts, they’ll see as much modern art as Phil Burton ever created,” Leno said.




Draft Kucinich to run against Pelosi


Bay Area progressives are constantly searching for a solid candidate to run against Rep. Nancy Pelosi, an Establishment figure who has helped lead this country down a disastrously unsustainable path, but nobody has ever been able to mount a serious challenge to this powerful incumbent. So here’s an idea: how about recruiting Dennis Kucinich, the representative from Ohio whose principled politics have made him a hero to progressives.

As Kucinich himself confirmed today in an email blast to supporters, there’s an effort underway in Ohio right now to carve up his district through reapportionment and he is actively looking from a new base of operations should that come to pass. While he’s rumored to be considering a move to Washington state, which will get another seat in Congress, I can’t imagine a better ideological fit for Kucinich than San Francisco.

So what do you say, comrades, is it time to launch a campaign to lure Kucinich to the Bay Area?

His message — entitled “My next move?” — follows:

You may have heard some rumors over the past week, so I wanted to set the record straight with you: While I’m committed to representing the 10th District of Ohio, I will not rule out a run elsewhere should my district be eliminated or radically altered through redistricting.

From Afghanistan to workers rights, Libya to climate change, there’s simply too much at stake for our voice to be eliminated. We cannot let a group of downstate politicians silence me and our movement – they would like nothing more than to stop hearing our calls for peace over violence and the people’s interests over corporate handouts.

So, no, we’re not going to quietly fade away, and let the corporate interests and status quo have its way. Instead, we’re gearing up for a long and difficult campaign in 2012 – wherever that may be. I know it’s worth it, and I know we can prevail. But I’ll need your help. Can you donate $25, $50, or $100 dollars today?

I’ve been approached by supporters across the country – from Washington to Maine – to explore options outside Ohio should redistricting force me out of my current district. It has been truly humbling to see the support that has been expressed for me to continue my work in Congress. Right now, my efforts and focus remain on representing my constituents in the 10th District and fighting for peace and justice, but as we plan for our movement’s future, I will consider all of these ideas to keep our voice in Congress.

And I say the same to you right now. Do you have a comment or idea I should consider? Is there a option you would like me to explore? If so, let me know by clicking here:

Thanks for being with me.

With respect,

Dennis Kucinich

Editor’s notes


The candidates for mayor of San Francisco are already lining up endorsements — the Sierra Club held its interviews April 23, which seems awfully early to me, since some of the most interesting contenders in this town (Tom Ammiano, Matt Gonzalez) have a tendency to jump in at the last minute. And the filing deadline isn’t until August.

But the sooner the big names and organizations are lined up and the money is locked in, the harder it will be for anyone to pull off an August surprise. So unless the redistricting commission seriously messes with Mark Leno’s state Senate seat or Ed Lee bows to the pressure from Willie Brown, Rose Pak, and their allies and decides to go back on his promise and seek a full term, we’re probably looking at a rough approximation of what the voters will face in November.

With John Avalos in the race, the ballot’s become a lot more attractive to progressives. It’s not as if the other major candidates don’t have a lot to offer, and in some cases, they have a lot to offer to the left. There are smart, experienced, qualified people running.

But let’s be honest here: David Chiu, Dennis Herrera, Phil Ting, Leland Yee, and Bevan Dufty all operate somewhere in the squishy political center, a place where tax breaks for corporations are okay, where “homeownership opportunities” tend to trump the needs of tenants, where deals with big private developers are sculpted around the edges but never rejected outright, and where cuts in services are a larger part of the budget solution than taxes on the rich.

Michela Alioto-Pier is off on the far right of the San Francisco political world, and if she looks at all credible and gets any significant traction (and that’s a big if) she’ll be downtown’s favorite candidate. But until now, there was nobody holding the solid progressive banner.

I don’t think that means Avalos’ appeal is limited to the left; he’s in a swing district, and he’s very popular there, and he can talk about small business and community development and open, honest government. He doesn’t sound like a crazy radical; he’s polite and respectful and listens to people.

But I’m glad we have a candidate who won’t try to argue that 25 percent affordable housing at Treasure Island is something to be proud of, or that the Twitter tax break will create jobs, or that social inequality can’t be addressed through local policy. I’m glad there’s someone who can push the discussion and debate out of the middle, can force some of the others who want progressive support to take strong stands, and can liven things up a bit. Because without him, all of the candidates were sounding a lot alike — and I really don’t want to be bored this fall.

Is the California GOP done?


The folks at CalBuzz — veteran political reporters who know their shit — thing the CAGOP is teetering on the brink of irrelevance:

Like a herd of wooly mammoths at the end of the Pleistocne epoch, the California Republican Party is on the verge of extinction.

It may still recover. The CRP has come back from near death before. And redistricting, alongside the top-two primary system may yet revive it. But judging from the infighting, narrow thinking and rigid ideological positioning on display at the party’s organizing convention last weekend in Sacramento, the signs are not good.

But that assumes that the party wants to recover, wants to be part of governing the state and actually has a plan to do that. Right now, Republicans in Sacramento are standing up and denouncing some of Gov. Brown’s proposed cuts — while refusing to even allow a public vote on extending taxes.

Over at Calitics, David Atkins suggests another perspective:

In reality, the GOP at a national and state level exists to 1) deliver money from the poor and middle class to the rich; and 2) feed enough red meat to their prejudiced and unthinking base to garner just enough votes to continue achieving objective #1. That’s pretty much it.

Right now, the GOP doesn’t actually need to win any of the statewide elections in order to accomplish those goals. Winning them would be helpful, but is ultimately unnecessary. Knowing that the chances of anyone overturning Prop 13 and the 2/3 requirement on revenues are slim to none, all they need is at least 1/3 of the members of just one of the statehouse chambers. To ram through all cuts budgets and destroy faith in government, they need do nothing more.

In fact:

There’s nothing that serves Republican interests at a state and national level more than to see California fiscally collapse. That means shock doctrine, a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich, an ability to end all state labor contracts in a way Governor Walker would only dream of, and ultimately the ability to crush the belief of the People in the power of their government to do good on their behalf.

I’m not sure everyone in the GOP thinks this way, but on a macro level, it certainly makes sense. That’s exactly what the Repubicans are doing in Congress — make it impossible for the Obama Administration to succeed, and you’ve done your job. It doesn’t hurt that Obama is allowing that to happen.

Brown continues to say that he doesn’t want to pull any legal chicanery, that he wants Republican support for his plan to but the tax extensions before the voters in June. But if this is the game they’re playing, he may have to reconsider.

Will reapportionment change California?


Probably not. The voters confirmed that the job of drawing new district lines next spring will be done by an independent (and unaccountable) commission whose makeup will not reflect California’s. (Five Republicans and five Democrats in a state where Democrats far outnumber Republicans?) But Brian at Calitics makes the case that it won’t matter much — and he’s hit on a really important point about California politics.

The voters have already gerrymandered themselves, in a sense. The liberals tend to live with liberals, the conservatives with conservatives. And any reasonably compact, fair district lines will reflect that.

In fact, the Fall Line Analytics map that Calitics cites makes an excellent case for splitting California into two or three states — one along the coast from Sonoma to Los Angeles, one in the Central Valley (including San Diego) and perhaps a third including the far-northern counties, which have wanted to secede for a while anyway. Then the coastal residents could have a progressive state with taxes on the wealthy to fund services, and the conservatives can try to survive in a low-tax heaven of their own. (And if you really think wealthy people will leave San Francisco and Silicon Valley and L.A. to move to Fresno for lower taxes, you’re as crazy as some of our blog trolls.)

The interesting twist on this all, though, is that there’s pretty good evidence that the population in California has shifted somewhat away from the coasts in the last decade and moved somewhat inland. Which means that Los Angeles and the Bay Area may wind up losing Congressional and state Legislative seats to the traditionally more conservative areas.

The data also suggests, though, that a lot of the new residents of the inland areas are Latino — and the way that Latino vote breaks may play a far more significant role than the redistricting commission.