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Friday, November 11, 2005

The Lonely District - California's CD-4 Cries Out for Redistricting Reform

Despite fierce opposition from district representative John Doolittle, California's 4th congressional district appears to have voted YES on Prop 77, a measure which would have transferred the power to draw California's legislative and congressional districts from the legislature to an independent panel. Only 5 of California's 59 counties voted YES on the measure; 3 of those 5 are in Doolittle's district.

Doolittle strongly opposed Prop 77, joining ranks with liberal congressman Howard Berman to ask the Federal Elections Commission for the green light to raise donations above the normal applicable limits for federal officeholders. Doolittle was also the lone Republican out of 81 congressional representatives to contribute to the No on 77 committee, a committee for which Rep. Nancy Pelosi raised millions of dollars.

Doolittle's opposition to the measure, stemming from his fear of a fair fight come election day, stands in clear contrast to the wishes expressed by his constituents for a fair process of drawing district lines. Clearly, Doolittle enjoys his rigged district, while his constituents believe he should be forced to compete in a fair electoral fight.

While the initiative failed, its presence on the ballot has forced state politicians to address the issue. The Speaker of the Assembly and President of the state Senate, both Democrats who opposed Prop 77, have both expressed in post-election remarks an understanding of the need to take the job away from the legislature. Hope springs eternal.

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