Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein at NYT write about racial redistricting, using the example of SC county commissioner Robert Reives Sr.
Mr. Reives is one of a growing number of Black elected officials across the country — ranging from members of Congress to county commissioners — who have been drawn out of their districts, placed in newly competitive districts or bundled into new districts where they must vie against incumbents from their own party.
Almost all of the affected lawmakers are Democrats, and most of the mapmakers are white Republicans. The G.O.P. is currently seeking to widen its advantage in states including North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia and Texas, and because partisan gerrymandering has long been difficult to disentangle from racial gerrymandering, proving the motive can be troublesome.
But the effect remains the same: less political power for communities of color.
The pattern has grown more pronounced during this year’s redistricting cycle, the first since the Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and allowed jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination to pass election laws and draw political maps without approval from the Justice Department.
Latino voters would see a major boost in political clout under new congressional and legislative districts approved unanimously Monday by the independent citizen panel charged with redrawing the state’s political map.
Although the panel, created by voter initiative in 2008, does not take partisan balance into account in drawing district lines, the maps it produced all but guarantee that Democrats will retain super majorities in the Legislature and their current lopsided majority in California’s congressional delegation.
Nearly one-third of the state’s 52 new congressional districts would have a majority of Latino citizens of voting age under the new maps. That’s an increase of three districts even as California lost a seat for the first time in its history because its population did not grow as fast as other states’.
Latino civil rights advocates said the increase in political power — which probably will lead to an increase in the number of Latino representatives — was fitting since much of the state’s population growth over the past decade has taken place in their communities.
Political dominos quickly started toppling immediately after the maps were approved.
Rep. Doris Matsui of Sacramento declared that she will run next year in the new 7th Congressional District. It also includes fellow Democratic Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove, who might follow most of his current constituents into the 6th District. Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. John Garamendi of Walnut Grove said he will seek re-election in the new 8th District, which includes Contra Costa and Solano counties. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, a Concord Democrat, will run in the neighboring 10th.
In Southern California, Republican Rep. Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita, who now represents the 25th District, said he’ll run in the new 27th, while Democratic Rep. Katie Porter said she’ll run in a bluer district that includes her hometown of Irvine.
Porter’s current district is one of two Democratic seats that became more competitive, alongside that of Joshua Harder, whose district currently stretches from the Central Valley to the Sacramento area. The current district of Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of Tulare, who announced he would not be running for re-election, was flipped to be largely Democratic.
On Dec. 16, Democratic Rep. Alan Lowenthal announced he would not seek re-election. The next day, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia declared for the seat and quickly rounded up support. And on Monday Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of Downey, who in 1992 became the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress, announced that she is retiring after her current term after she was redrawn into the same district with Garcia.
The growing power of Latino voters — and recognizing that in the new maps — has been a constant theme of the redistricting process. A projected 16 of the 52 House districts have a Latino voting-age population of at least 50%.