Politics and redistricting: The madness in SF's future

Assembly districts -- where will the new lines be?

The political merry-go-round in San Francisco going to be whirling at light speed soon. It’s partially the fault of term limits -- over the next couple of years, some very talented, ambitious politicians are going to be forced to leave local office, and they’re looking for the next step. Part of it is the confluence of a bunch of events, starting with Mayor Gavin Newsom and District Attorney Kamala Harris both seeking statewide office.


And there’s another factor that hasn’t been talked about much, but it’s really important: Next year, every Congressional, state Legislative and local supervisorial district is going to change.

After the decennial census, everyone has to draw new lines to reflect population shifts. At the state level (and Congressional redistricting is also a state function), that’s in the hands of a reapportionment commission, which I’m dubious about: The majority of the applicants are white people, and it’s supposed to have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, although the state has far more Democratic voters. It’s anybody’s guess how they’ll actually draw the lines.


An elections task force will do the local lines, and it’s going to be harder to screw up; San Francisco supervisorial districts are supposed to reflect established neighborhood boundaries, and the population shifts within the city haven’t been that dramatic.And it’s unlikely anyone’s going to try to draw lines just to force an incumbent supervisor out of a district. But the districts will be a little bit different, and in San Francisco politics, a little bit can mean a lot.


The state Legislative districts will change significantly -- and could change the politics of this area, and the state, in dramatic ways. For example, suppose Mark Leno’s Senate District moves somewhat North, to include a majority of Marin and Sonoma residents and only a small minority of San Franciscans? Suppose that district no longer includes Marin or Sonoma, but includes all of San Francisco (which would put Leno and Leland Yee in the same district)?


Suppose the 12th and 13th Assembly Districts, which now divide about East/West, shift to North and South? What if Tom Ammiano and Fiona Ma end up in the same district? (Um, I think that’s a closer relationship than either of them wants ….)


What happens if Nancy Pelosi is redistricted out of her seat? (Heh heh, won’t happen, but in theory, she and Lynn Woolsey could wind up living in the same district.)

It’s going to change the dynamics in a city that’s already poised for some upsets to the political apple cart.


Ross Mirkarimi’s termed out in 2012, and if he doesn’t run for mayor (or doesn’t get elected) he’ll be looking for the next step, which could be a run for the state Assembly; Tom Ammiano will be termed out in 2014. Of course, that’s been a gay seat for a long time (Carole Migden, Mark Leno, Ammiano) and by them someone like David Campos might be interested.


Or the district lines might have changed so much that both of them – or neither of them – can get elected.


If Bevan Dufty doesn’t get elected mayor, he’s out of a job – and he’s a political junkie who won’t easily retire. He’ll be looking at other offices, too. So will Sean Elsbernd, I suspect.

And that doesn’t even count the mayor’s race, which could, at this point, involve both state Senators, Leno and Leland Yee, and if either one wins, that opens up a Senate seat. And at the same time, if Kamala Harris is elected district attorney, that job will be open, and it’s an open secret that Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, a former prosecutor, would love to be in that office some day.

And in the background is the question of who becomes mayor if Newsom becomes lt. governor

 (and what happens to Aaron Peskin, an astute politician if ever there were one, and a potential mayor if this board of supervisors gets to make the appointment ). At lot to think about – and trust me, the thinking is already going on.

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    Anyone but Ed Lee. Peskin for Supervisor. Yes on F and I. Complete endorsements for the Nov. 3 election

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