GOP Ends Effort to Kill California Senate Districts, Won't Push Prop. 40
Posted: Friday, July 13, 2012
Jim Sanders, SacBee
After leading a successful $2.3 million signature-gathering campaign to place a referendum challenging California's newly drawn Senate districts before voters, proponents have decided not to seek its passage.
Proposition 40 will remain on the November ballot, but sponsors will not raise funds or campaign for the referendum, said Dave Gilliard, a GOP strategist who led the drive that placed the Republican-backed measure before voters.
Sponsors have filed a ballot statement saying that a California Supreme Court ruling has eliminated the need for Proposition 40.
A "no" vote on the measure supports killing the newly drawn district lines.
"As the official sponsors of Proposition 40, our intention was to make sure its qualification for the ballot would stop the current Senate lines from being implemented in 2012.
The Supreme Court intervened to keep the district lines in place," the ballot statement said.
"With the court's action, we are no longer asking for a no vote," said the statement, signed by Julie Vandermost, an Orange County businesswoman and chairwoman of Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting, or FAIR.
Jason Kinney, spokesman for the Senate Democratic Caucus that opposed the referendum, said he was not surprised.
"This was a highly partisan, high-risk gambit by a handful of Republican Party establishment members – and it's clearly backfired," he said.
The referendum targets new Senate district boundaries that many political analysts predicted would give Democrats at least two additional seats this year, assuring the party of the two-thirds majority needed to approve tax or fee increases in that chamber.
For the first time ever, California's legislative districts were drawn by a 14-member citizens commission, consisting of five Democrats, five Republicans and four independent or minor-party voters. At least three yes votes from each bloc were required to pass new district maps.
By challenging the new districts through referendum, sponsors of Proposition 40 were counting on the Supreme Court to suspend use of the new boundaries and perhaps set temporary districts pending the November vote. Twenty of the Senate's 40 seats are up for grabs this year.
The high court threw the campaign a curveball by ruling that the challenged Senate district boundaries could be used for the June primary and November general elections, after which Proposition 40's fate would determine whether they would be redrawn next year.
The court's action means that state senators elected in November would see their districts killed that very day if the referendum passes. Winning candidates would serve those districts for four years, but any future re-election campaign would be for a redrawn seat.
"It would have just caused a lot of confusion in the political world, probably too much confusion," Gilliard said.