Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s initiative to dramatically change the redistricting rules is in trouble if it hopes to qualify for a special election. This of course does not mean the initiative is dead, But, by not qualifying for a special election definitely puts a crimp in the governor’s plan to have the districts redrawn in time for the 2006 or 2008 elections.
If this initiative does not qualify for a special election, it is a victory, of sorts, and demonstrates that the Hispanic elected officials will not allow the Governor to change the rules of the game much before the Census of 2010 after the Census has been taken as required by law.
It is a victory in that it gives the Democratic Party more leverage in dictating when the change in redistricting actually occurs. The Governor wants it to happen as soon as possible, the Assembly wants to wait until 2010 after the Census numbers come out and within the normal cycle of redistricting.
As noted this is a victory of sorts, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez noted, “Power, you don’t hand over. Nobody gives it away. You fight. You’ve got to take it from somebody when you want it.” We agree with Nuñez. We are at a point in history where Latinos/Hispanics Mexican Americans, will have a major say in how the districts will be redrawn and an opportunity to further develop Hispanic participation. Why should Nuñez and the rest of the Hispanic Caucus turn over this power to a panel of predominately white judges?
We find it more than curious that after decades with the power in the hands of Anglo politicians to redraw district lines, power they used to protect and enhance their opportunity to win seats; this was not a major issue. As Nuñez had noted, “If this was a Republican controlled Assembly doing the redistricting this Republican governor would have never brought up the issue.” It is about maintaining power which Schwarzenegger is trying to impose at the expense of the large Hispanic voting population in the State of California.
In effect Schwarzenegger’s proposal would take the growing power of the Hispanic politician and recommit it back into the hands of the Anglo community.
Speaker Nuñez and the Hispanic Caucus should enforce the rules mandating that Redistricting should only occur after the Census has been taken. It is only then, that the shifts in population can be noted and taken into account and new redistricting should be allowed. However, what does need to be taken into account during this period of time is that the political districts should be organized to a set of parameters that makes social as well as political sense.