As reported here more than two months ago (see entry for Dec. 9), former state Controller Steve Westly has agreed to become the lead Democrat backing what is now a bonafide bipartisan effort to change the way political districts are drawn in California.
His leading role in the campaign to pass a redistricting initiative headed for the November ballot was announced today by the sponsors, including Common Cause and the League of Women Voters. Westly joins with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to give the measure the bipartisan image it will need if it is to have any chance of passing.
You may remember that Westly and Schwarzenegger successfully teamed back in 2004 to help sell Californians on a $15 billion bond measure that was floated to bail out the state from its crippling post-dotcom bust deficit. That association may have hurt Westly in the 2006 Democratic primary for governor, which he narrowly lost, but the former e-Bay executive is sticking with his centrist instincts and again aligning himself with the Republican governor.
The redistricting initiative desperately needs high-profile Democratic support because all previous efforts have failed at the ballot box after being portrayed by opponents -- in some cases accurately, in other cases not so much -- as Republican power grabs designed to manipulate the system to the GOP's advantage.
This fall's initiative falls well short of comprehensive reform, because it covers only legislative districts and leaves untouched the Legislature's ability to draw new congressional districts after the 2010 census.