Early Analysis: Impact of Redistricting in San Diego County

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New faces, new districts, and more competition

Guest Commentary
by Ron Nehring

Let’s take a quick look at the draft Assembly, State Senate and Congressional district maps in San Diego County.  While these drafts may change in the weeks ahead, they give us good insight into the direction things are moving, and therefore, who’s likely to gain, and whose jobs have become more difficult. Demographic and election performance data is forthcoming, and may influence the analysis.  With the information available now, this is what we have:

CONGRESS.  North San Diego County will be represented by Rep. Darrell Issa and, now, Rep. Duncan Hunter, whose new district comes substantially westward, coming down SR-78 about half way between Escondido and Oceanside.  These are solidly Republican districts and these two men will be in Congress for the next ten years, if they want to be.  Map + Demographics: Issa District

Rep. Brian Bilbray’s seat moves south and becomes more competitive as it takes in some more liberal coastal regions than before.  However, these regions are also heavy with Republican donors and I expect Brian’s first class fundraising team led by Karolyn Dorsee will do excellent work ensuring Brian has the support he needs for another term in the House.  City of San Diego voters are well familiar with Brian, who represented them between 1995 and 2001.  Map + Demographics: Bilbray District

Rep. Susan Davis suddenly finds herself in an inland district that is substantially similar to the Assembly district once represented by then-Assemblymember Shirley Horton.  She has been drawn completely out of the coast and downtown and placed in a district that begins in Mission Valley about halfway between the 5 and 15 freeways, runs east to La Mesa, then south toward the border, mainly east of I-15 . Map + Demographics: Davis District

St. Sen. Juan Vargas has already declared for the 51st district, which is substantially similar to the district as it’s currently drawn, as a Latino border district with a heavy Democrat registration advantage.  It runs from the Pacific all the way to the Arizona border and encompasses all of Imperial County.  Interestingly, downtown San Diego is now divided between this district and the district Rep. Bilbray will seek to represent.  Map+ Demographics: Filner District

ASSEMBLY.  The most exciting development is the new coastal Assembly seat that runs from Coronado all the way to Del Mar, Solana Beach and – significantly – Rancho Santa Fe.  Republican Councilman Kevin Faulconer’s current district is located entirely within this Assembly District and his candidacy would make it instantly competitive.  Faulconer has been twice elected in his coastal council district and is a tough, bright campaigner.  Map: City of San Diego Coastal Assembly District

North County voters will have all new Assemblymembers after 2012.  Assemblywoman Dianne Harkey’s 73rd district has been moved entirely out of San Diego County, Assemblyman Martin Garrick is termed out, and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher is running for San Diego Mayor.  All three of these districts are heavily Republican and we should expect each to remain in Republican hands.

We will see a new North County Coastal Assembly Distrct that runs from Camp Pendleton in the North to Encinitas in the South and includes Vista.  The North County Inland district will include San Marcos, Escondido and Poway and run north and east from there.  Map: North San Diego County Assembly Districts Map: Northeast San Diego County Assembly District

In South County, La Mesa moves to join a district with Lemon Grove and eastern Chula Vista to form the heart of the South County Inland district (map).  The award for the most Democrat-heavy Assembly district will go to the South County Coastal district that runs from about the 94 freeway/downtown south to the border. Map: South County Coastal Assembly District.

Assemblyman Brian Jones’ 77th district will lose La Mesa and add all of Imperial County.  Should the final maps resemble the drafts, expect to see Assemblyman Jones and Senator Joel Anderson carpooling to El Centro a great deal in the months ahead. Map: San Diego-Imperial County Assembly District

STATE SENATE.  While Orange County Assemblymember Dianne Harkey will be moved out of the county, Senator Mimi Walters will be back as her Senate district is redrawn to include the North County coastal cities as far south as Encinitas.  Walters represented Oceanside in the soon-to-be-old 73rd Assembly District.  Map: San Diego-Orange County Coastal Senate District

The new inland North County Senate seat will undoubtedly be won by now-Assemblyman Martin Garrick, although the current draft lines do not include Garrick’s residence in that district.  Garrick, a tough campaigner and former Assembly Republican leader, can be expected to crush any would-be competitor in 2012 or 2014 (depending on whether the district gets an odd or even number).  Map: Northeast San Diego County Senate District

Senator Joel Anderson’s district appears radically different in the draft maps.  Instead of being a “North of 8” district, it’s slated to be a “South of 8 plus East” district, running largely from I-8 south to the border, then out east to include Imperial County.  In this respect it’s similar in shape to the current 40th Senate district represented by Juan Vargas, but loses all of the Democrat-leaning areas in the City of San Diego, National City and Chula Vista.  Anderson is one of the toughest campaigners on the planet and I would not bet against him in holding onto it.  Map: San Diego and Imperial County Senate District

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Nehring is a chairman emeritus of the California Republican Party, a former school board trustee, and a Republican strategist and commentator.

This was originally published on Nehring’s website.

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