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Tim Myers: Mapping the future of SCV’s political scene

Myers' Musings

Posted: June 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

In the late 1990s, when Democrats in the SCV truly constituted a rump party, two active Democratic clubs existed that constantly argued over ideology in a way analogous to the high school chess club and mathletes throwing down on the quad to determine the toughest group while the jocks all laugh uproariously.

I attributed these battles to frustration because they could not really run candidates that could win, so all energy naturally turned inward.

I worried that, with redistricting, one might see similar action by the competing Republican clubs, playing out recently with accusations of financial incompetence or venality by the new leadership of one such club in the SCV against the old leadership, since the SCV might find itself reduced to rump status with division into several districts rather than remaining intact.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission, or CCRC, on June 3 released preliminary Congressional, Assembly and state Senate maps, and Santa Clarita heaved a huge sigh of relief since the maps did not realize the worst fears of SCV politicos: the division of the SCV into two or perhaps three other districts.

This would have seriously reduced any influence of the SCV on elected representatives and mathematically guaranteed that no resident of the SCV would ever ascend to state or federal office until the next census.

In each of the maps the SCV remains intact, but what could that mean for current and future officeholders?

On the Congressional side, good news exists for Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, since the 25th District remains solidly Republican and would allow him to easily win re-election in 2012.

Now, in 2007 Buck told me face-to-face that he would not seek re-election in 2012, meaning that McKeon would be the last resident of the SCV to hold Congressional office until redistricting in 2020.

Why? In 2010, a partisan process carved up a 25th District, leaving Santa Clarita the only intact community, with some division of the other large population centers of Lancaster and Palmdale between the 22nd and 25th districts.

This pretty much precluded Buck dealing with a serious primary challenge and left his base of power whole. The division of Palmdale and particularly Lancaster made little sense other than for such protection.

But the new 25th District (or whatever its number) seems to leave Lancaster and Palmdale intact, making it bespoke for a George Runner candidacy. It seems obvious that Runner, who moved from Assembly to State Senate to Board of Equalization, would love to gain an office with no worrisome term limits. His relative youth could leave him in Congress for decades.

The preliminary maps indicate a good bye to Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, termed out in 2012 and with no State Senate district to run in. Currently, portions of the SCV belong to Tony Strickland’s (primarily) Ventura/Santa Barbara County seat and portions to Sharon Runner’s (primarily) Antelope Valley seat. While the new map keeps the SCV whole, it joins it to an area comprising almost the entire western San Fernando Valley and crossing the mountains all the way to Malibu. This area seems to fall mainly in the current 23rd State Senate District represented by Fran Pavley, a Democrat and former mayor of Agoura Hills.  Since the lion’s share of voters in the new district hail from Senator Pavley’s old district, one sees little reason that she or someone like her would not continue to represent the new district even with the appended SCV.

The new map also probably bids a good bye to State Senator Tony Strickland, since he relied heavily on votes from the SCV to achieve his narrow victory in 2008.  This would leave both he and his spouse Audra Strickland out of elected office for the first time in perhaps a decade.

The sole bit of great news? The SCV will dominate a new majority Republican assembly district very similar to the old 38th District, without any Ventura County communities.

The map seems to indicate San Fernando Valley’s fairly Republican areas of Granada Hills and Porter Ranch appended.

The 2012 election, and particularly the open primary, could see a veritable free-for-all of every SCV political notables and wannabes for the open seat.

And this will at least give the local Republican clubs something to do so and prevent them from focusing inward.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. “Myers’ Musings” runs Sundays in The Signal.

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