In almost every state, redistricting involves difficult choices for a few incumbent legislators about whether to run against a fellow incumbent, move to another district or leave the legislature. In California, the count of 60 elected officials facing such choices reported in a Sacramento Bee story seems particularly high and noteworthy:
For some sitting legislators, preparing to run for re-election in 2012 includes packing up boxes and hunting for a new home.
California's new district lines, drawn for the first time by an independent redistricting commission, have shaken up the political landscape for next year's election. As a result, candidates and incumbents across the state are "diving and dodging" into districts that will give them the best shot at victory, said Paul Mitchell, a Democratic consultant who has tracked the redistricting process.
By Mitchell's count, the maps left at least 60 current elected officials either outside the district they were eyeing or in the same district with a competitor. "It's happening all over the place," he said.
Unlike members of Congress, state legislators are required to reside in the district they represent. That means physically relocating can be part of the equation as candidates scramble to settle on a seat before the nominating period starts next spring.
"After redistricting, Realtors will be among the most popular phone calls placed by legislators," Justin Levitt, an election law expert at Loyola Law School, said of this year's decennial map-drawing.
Art credit: The complicated map of Sacramento area only legislative district changes is by Sharon Okada in the Sacramento Bee.