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District revamp to challenge Reps

Experts speculate that incumbents may not be safe when boundaries are redrawn.

April 01, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com

The recent U.S. Census data promises to dramatically change current state and federal legislative districts, making re-election more challenging for local representatives who can no longer take their historic support for granted.

Already, many office holders are preparing.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), whose district stretches from Burbank to Temple City, could see his voter pool change dramatically. The latest 10-year census figures showed California has grown by more than 3 million in the last decade to 37 million, with most of the growth in the Central Valley and the Inland Empire. As a result, political power is expected to shift east and away from Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

It is possible that the neighboring district of Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas) will be pushed east, or that parts of Dreier and Schiff’s districts will be blended together, forcing the two incumbents into a showdown.

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In a recent fundraising letter, Schiff said his next re-election bid may be his most difficult.

“I will undoubtedly have many tens of thousands of new constituents unfamiliar with my work,” Schiff’s letter states. “And with Republican communities all around me, the new district will be even more challenging.”

Most of state Sen. Carol Liu’s constituents live in Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena, but her legislative district has a long, skinny tail that points west all the way to Reseda.

In four months, that nearly 20-mile tail may be cut from Liu’s territory as a result of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission’s redrawing of the state’s congressional, state Senate and Assembly maps.

“The lines are really configured to protect me,” Liu (D-La Cañada) said. “But it is a very funny-shaped district.”

In 2008, state voters passed Proposition 11, taking mapping decisions for the Assembly and state Senate out of the hands of lawmakers — who were blamed for creating politically safe districts to help incumbents — and creating a citizen’s redistricting commission.

Last year, voters approved Proposition 20, giving the commission the additional task of redrawing congressional boundaries.

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