New Districts, Primary System Create Opportunities for Building Trades

August 17, 2011 - Newly drawn legislative and Congressional districts, along with the new “top-two” primary election system, will combine to create new opportunities for the Building Trades to elect more worker-friendly legislators and representatives in 2012.

The new redistricting commission’s task was to draw districts for the Assembly, Senate, Congress, and Board of Equalization.  The commission was required to obey the Voting Rights Act and provide minority-majority districts where appropriate; and also to consider “communities of interest,” taking into account ethnicity, socio-economic, media markets, transportation corridors, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation.  In the past, legislators drew district lines aimed primarily at protecting incumbents and the partisan status quo.

The new redistricting and primary systems provide an opportunity to elect more Democrats, possibly reaching the two-thirds threshold for increasing state revenues; but also allow for the possibility of electing Republicans who are more centrist than the anti-worker extremist Republicans guaranteed by the current partisan primaries and district lines.  Fewer districts will be guaranteed safe for either party, enhancing the chances of success for more centrist candidates to survive the primaries and win election in the fall.  It is a positive commentary on the new lines that Republican leaders have said they’ll seek signatures for a ballot measure to undo them.

 Furthermore, the California Democratic Party is planning to endorse candidates at its February 2012 convention, and local Democratic central committees will be holding pre-convention endorsement conferences in January.  Local building trades councils should be engaged in that process to help the best pro-worker candidates win the party’s endorsement.  This means engaging with candidates earlier than ever before.

 The first step in this process is educating yourself and your members, friends and colleagues about your new Senate, Assembly and Congressional Districts.  You can find information at these websites:  (Commission’s website)  (the leading firm specializing in the redistricting process)

Below is an analysis of current partisan breakdowns, along with the outlook for 2012.  Note the likely sharp decrease in the number of safe Republican districts.


Assembly                             Senate                                  Congressional

52 Democratic                    25 Democratic                    34 Democratic

28 Republican                   15 Republican                     19 Republican


NEW IN 2012

Assembly                             Senate                                  Congressional

48 Democratic                    24 Democratic                    33 Democratic

  2 Lean Democratic            2 Lean Democratic            1 Leans Democratic

  5 Swing                                2 Swing                                 5 Swing

  4 Lean Republican            1 Leans Republican           2 Lean Republican

21 Republican                    11 Republican                     12 Republican


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