Undoing The Incumbent Protection Act Of 2001

The 23rd Congressional District–dubbed the “Ribbon of Shame”
by critics–stretches 200 miles from Monterey to Ventura counties

Leave it to a liberal rag like the Sacramento News & Review (SNR) to get this one right.

While many are quick to couch Redistricting as a “Republican vs. Democrat” issue; it is really about Incumbent protection.

SNR points out:

Right now, democracy is diluted for many Californians. Because of the way the lines were drawn four years ago, election outcomes in many districts–whether a Democrat or Republican would win–were determined long before voters went to the ballot box. Your vote may not count.

That’s because legislators get to do the dividing.

In a carefully brokered agreement between the two parties in 2001, California state legislators cemented their jobs in place. Instead of fighting against one another for more political territory–or fighting for voters’ best interests–they drew lines that ensured the same number of Democrats and Republicans would get elected over and over again. A district held by a Democrat in 2000 would continue to be held by a Democrat throughout the next decade. In a unique bipartisan plan, legislators preserved the status quo.

I know… you’re asking why would Republicans agree to a deal that would relegate them to minority status for the next ten years?

“Protecting the Republican majority in the House of Representatives was the top Republican priority in the 2001 redistricting.”

As the thinking went, if Republicans accepted the hit at the state level, they could barter a lockup of the 20 congressional seats they held. Many believed that 20 of 53 congressional seats were as many as Republicans could hope for from this Democratic-leaning Golden State.

“With 20 Republican seats in California, Republicans should control the House of Representatives,” Brulte wrote. “That means that California legislators gave President Bush the tools he needs to keep our taxes down, protect us from terrorism, ensure accountability in our schools, protect family values, and save us the billions upon billions of dollars that a Democratic Congress certainly would spend if they regained control of the house.”

State Republicans were taking one for the national team.

So the question we must ask ourselves as Republicans is whether or not we want to risk our majority in Congress? Well I believe that our advantage in congress should not come at the expense of the electoral process. The integrity of the system is most important. On a level playing field, I believe that our ideas win. People want hope, not doom. They want opportunity, not oppression.

Here in California, Governor Schwarzenegger and Assembly Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy have shown extreme faith in our ability to reach the people with our message. And while I am not completely sure that everyone on our team is up to the task, I am impressed that they are willing to do what is right in and arena where most are content to do what is safe.

Craig DeLuz

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