State congressional leaders claim turf in proposed new districts


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Can you say mad scramble?

The last ‘aye’ had barely been uttered in Friday’s votes by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission giving tentative approval to blueprints for new political districts when members of the state congressional delegation began declaring their intentions.


Democrats Xavier Becerra and Lucille Roybal-Allard issued separate news releases announcing their plans to run for two Eastside-area and Southeast districts, the 34th Congressional District for him, the 40th for her.

A little farther north, Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of Santa Barbara, already in Republicans’ sites in her newly drawn district, reaffirmed she’s running again in what will be the new 24th.

And Rep. Howard Berman, whose San Fernando Valley home will be in the same district as that of Rep. Brad Sherman, a fellow Democrat, also said he’s running in that new district, the 30th.

The new lines will get a final commission vote Aug. 15 but are unlikely to change. They are posing a real dilemma for recently seated Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro).

Her current 36th Congressional District, which basically runs up the coast to Venice, has been divided among three new districts.

Her home is in territory traditionally represented by African Americans, long allies of the Hahn political family, and there already is some concern among black leaders that Hahn might try to take one of ‘their’ seats.

‘Ten days ago, I took the oath of office as a new member of Congress,’ Hahn said in a statement early Friday afternoon. ‘Today that district was taken away from me and split into three very different districts.’

What’s she going to do? If she has decided, it wasn’t apparent from her statement:

‘Regardless of which district the voters of the old 36th were placed into under these lines, they should rest assured that I will fight for the very issues I campaigned on each and every day,’ she said in the statement.

Democratic Rep. Henry A. Waxman, who gained much of Hahn’s turf in a new district that runs from his Beverly Hills base and Malibu down to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, said he expects the new maps to lead to expensive campaigns and put California’s political clout in Washington at risk.

In both major political parties, ‘some of our senior people will be forced into costly and difficult election campaigns,’ Waxman said in a Capitol interview Friday. ‘Many of them won’t return, which I think will hurt the clout of the state in a Congress where seniority matters as much as it does.’

For the record, 6:43 p.m. July 29: An earlier version of this post misspelled Democrat Xavier Becerra’s last name as Beccerra.


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-- Richard Simon in Washington and Jean Merl