California Congressional Map May Cut Out Sanchez Sisters

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez attends the Black and White Gala for Barack Obama at a private residence on August 21, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. Photographer: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Redrawing the lines of congressional districts in California could end the terms of legislative sisters Linda Sanchez and Loretta Sanchez, and still leave the nation’s most-populous state with 35 Democrats in the House of Representatives, two more than it has now.

Paul Mitchell, a Democratic consultant in Sacramento who has studied draft maps on the website of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, said 10 of the state’s 53 House members won’t be back in Washington after the November 2012 election. California’s congressional delegation is now 33 Democrats and 19 Republicans with one vacant seat that had been held by a Democrat.

“There’s definitely some losers,” Mitchell said in a telephone interview yesterday. “We’re not doing a district that inherits the old lines. We’re starting from scratch.”

The commission, which will release preliminary results on June 10, is an independent body approved by voters in 2008 to redraw districts with equal numbers of people that reflect population shifts, not taking account of current designs. Previously the state Legislature drew the lines, which are adjusted every 10 years.

“These are only staff drafts and will be redone after receiving input from the commission, but they do show the starting point,” Mitchell said.

Redistricting could spell trouble for the Sanchez sisters, two Democrats representing Southern California, Mitchell said.

Merged Districts

Loretta Sanchez’s district in Orange County could be merged into that of Republican Dana Rohrabacher. Linda Sanchez may see her district southwest of Los Angeles blended with that of Laura Richardson, a black Democrat whose current constituents would be a majority in the new district.

Loretta, 51, and Linda, 42, are the first sisters to serve together in Congress. They co-wrote a 2008 book, “Dream in Color: How the Sanchez Sisters Are Making History in Congress.”

Loretta is more business-oriented, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats who emphasize fiscal restraint. She is a senior member of the Armed Services and Homeland Security committees.

Linda, a former union official, has closer ties to organized labor. She is the top-ranking Democrat on the Ethics Committee, a thankless role responsible for policing the behavior of its members.

When Democrats proposed alternatives to the Republicans’ budget blueprint, Linda Sanchez voted for the proposals of the Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus. Loretta Sanchez voted against them.

Latino Voters

Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for Loretta Sanchez, said in an e-mail that she couldn’t comment. Adam Hudson, a spokesman for Linda Sanchez, didn’t respond to an e-mail request for comment after business hours.

David Dreier, a Republican first elected in 1980, could find that his new district includes a majority of Latino voters, Mitchell said. His present territory snakes for 83 miles (134 kilometers) along the San Gabriel Mountains east of Los Angeles to include wealthy foothills communities and not those where the incomes of most residents are lower.

Jo Maney, a spokeswoman for Dreier, didn’t respond to an e-mail requesting comment after regular business hours.

‘No Place’

Gary Miller, a Republican first elected in 1998 who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, may also see his district merged into more Democratic-leaning ones. Miller lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Diamond Bar.

Tony Quinn, a Republican editor of the California Target Book, a nonpartisan political guide, agreed with Mitchell’s analysis.

“Dreier and Miller are out of a district,” he said in a telephone interview. “There’s no place for them to run.”

While California added people at a slightly faster pace than the nation between 2000 and 2010, its 10 percent growth rate was the lowest in state history and failed to qualify it for a new congressional seat. Its population shifted, with greater growth in the inland areas than along the coast.

The redistricting commission will hold public hearings over the next two months and present final district maps by Aug. 15.

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