The state’s independent redistricting commission unanimously approved its final maps Monday night, setting in stone the brand new districts California voters will use to elect legislators at the state and Congressional level in 2022.
Redistricting takes place every 10 years following the census, and the new boundary lines in California have been drawn by an independent, 14-member commission twice now since 2010. Commissioners must create new districts which contain an equal number of people while ensuring no minority votes are silenced in compliance with the Federal Voting Rights Act. This year, slower population growth in California meant the state lost one of its 53 U.S. House seats.
The maps approved on Monday will go into effect for the June 2022 primary election, creating a political environment political consultant Tim Rosales likened to “The Hunger Games” as new battlegrounds are created and politicians must decide where their allegiances lie.
“They’ve got to decide right now…You see people coming out right now with statements on what they’re going to do and they’re being pretty definitive about that. And some people are kind of holding their cards close to their chest, which you can completely understand,” Rosales said.
Congressman Josh Harder, who currently represents all of Stanislaus County and part of San Joaquin County, saw District 10 split in half as part of the redistricting process. Newman and Gustine are now part of the new District 13, which also includes the west side of Turlock and reaches up to Lathrop, down through Patterson and Mendota, and into Coalinga of Fresno County. Newman and Gustine were previously separated by the boundary line of District 10 and 16.
Harder’s campaign has yet to comment on the redistricting process and where he’ll run for re-election in 2022; the Congressman and his wife, Pam, announced on Tuesday that they’re expecting their first child. The new District 13 shares territory with current District 4 Rep. Tim McClintock, while Rep. Jim Costa, who formerly represented Gustine as part of District 16, told the Sacramento Bee he’ll be running for election in the new Fresno-based District 21.
Members of Congress don’t have to live in the districts they’re elected to represent, making the decision for representatives like Harder a bit easier. His current District 10 has been a battleground between Republicans and Democrats like himself for the last decade, and Rosales anticipates the newly-drawn, local districts remaining competitive.
“In terms of the overall dynamics and how we think about the Central Valley, I think it will continue to be one of those areas that Republicans and Democrats can continue to tussle over and that will change hands over the next 10 years until the next redistricting,” Rosales said.
In the State Assembly, Gustine and Newman will now be a part of the new District 22 along with Modesto, Patterson and Turlock. Assemblymember Adam Gray will likely stay in the new District 27, which includes Merced and Delhi and stretches down to Coalinga, leaving AD 22 up for the taking.
The only new map which sees Newman and Gustine separated is that of the State Senate; the two towns were formerly together as part of District 12, represented by Anna Caballero. Newman is now a part of District 4 along with Turlock, which stretches from Lake Tahoe, down through the foothills and all the way into Inyo County. Gustine is in District 14, which includes Livingston down to the Fresno area.
Though no further changes are permitted, the maps must now sit for three days for public input. After the commission completes its final report and submits it to the secretary of state, the maps are likely to be challenged in court.
“I don’t think anybody is thrilled with these maps or thinks that they are the best representation of work by a redistricting commission,” Rosales said. “And I think that’s disappointing to a number of folks, whether they’re on the ‘D’ side or the ‘R’ side.”
To view the final maps, visit https://www.wedrawthelinesca.org/map_viewer.