â€œI think they made a political decision to exclude Congress when they pretend to be above politics,â€ says Maviglio. â€œWe donâ€™t think thatâ€™s the right direction.â€ Actually, that was always the implicit compromise to ensure that Pelosi didnâ€™t wreck the whole show.
This time around, Schwarzenegger isnâ€™t pushing a big, controversial agenda (aside from a potential health care reform measure). He has the Democratsâ€™ public promise and public failure to produce on that promise. And he has things they still want, such as the still-in-the-works comprehensive health care measure and the term limits revision initiative.
Democrats should have gone for redistricting and other political reform measures to provide more of a sweetener for their push to revise term limits, a measure which amounts to only a slight loosening. They didnâ€™t do that and now their campaign for the February initiative is in trouble. They still have an opportunity, as Schwarzenegger has not yet signaled his intentions on it.
Should the term limits initiative fail, of course, the Democrats will be in some disarray. New leaders will have to be chosen next year, leaders who will not have the established clout built up by Perata and Nunez. Leaders easier to beat at the ballot box.
Dan Walter’s Sac Bee commentary:
Schwarzenegger and civic and political reform groups say the selection process, coupled with guidelines for redrawing districts, would create a Legislature with more competitive seats and more centrist, compromise-minded members. Perhaps it would, and perhaps one could argue that any commission would be better than having lawmakers draft new maps behind closed doors with predictable effects on parties and individual politicians, as the 2001 bipartisan gerrymander did. But there are no guarantees.
The essential problem with redistricting reform is that the cure can be worse than the disease.
Ed Mendel of the San Diego U-T put up an article on their Newsblog:
“There are almost no other issues where you find so many votes,” said Tony Quinn, co-editor of the California Target Book, which tracks campaigns and elections.
“The voters say, ‘This isn’t my fight. I don’t know what this is all about,'” said Quinn. “‘I’m going to vote against it.'”
Quinn said a successful campaign for the redistricting campaign probably need little opposition and, in addition to the Republican governor, support from a prominent Democrat such as U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Quinn is also featured in Steve Harmon’s Mercury News article:
“The danger is if labor, teachers and other groups that feel they control the Legislature today don’t want to see change,” said Tony Quinn, editor of California Target Book, which analyzes legislative races. “But I don’t know if they’d raise money if members aren’t engaged.”
That could hinge on whether the proposal to loosen term limits, Proposition 93, gains passage in the Feb. 5 primary, Quinn said. If it goes down, incumbents won’t have any incentive to fight a change that wouldn’t affect most of them when redistricting begins in 2011. If Proposition 93 succeeds, more legislators might put up a fight against the redistricting proposal in the fall.
Todays coalition represents an impressive gathering from across the political spectrum, and perhaps that’s what’s worrying political insiders like Steve Maviglio, a spokesperson for California Assembly leader Fabian Nunez. Maviglio became the first Californian to state his opposition to Common Cause’s proposal today in a blog posting and in comments to reporters. Maviglio seems to think that drawing political boundaries is too complicated and complex a task for a commission of citizens without help from experts in the legislature. It’s a little like arguing that we should put criminals on jury’s because they know lots more about crime than ordinary law abiding folks do.
Maviglio claims to support turning redistricting over to an independent commission, just not this idea. Legislative leaders have been promising to put their own reform proposal on the ballot ever since they opposed the last reform initiative that was on the ballot in 2007. Their failure to do so is what has spearheaded the Voter’s FIRST initiative.
Now that legislator’s see a true grassroots effort underway to take the self-interest out of redistricting, they may put forth their own proposal that would either A) not truly be independent, B) look good as policy but be designed to lose on the ballot, or C) actually be a compromise worth considering. Stay tuned, the next few months will be interesting.