As the Citizens Redistricting Commission moves toward developings its first proposals for new legislative and congressional districts and has completed its first round of taking public testimony, some possible outcomes are beginning to emerge. As they await their first look at what the future may hold, some Central Coast politicians have high hopes while others have low expectations. Who's up and who's down? Here's a rundown:
UP: Former Republican state Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria, who served briefly as the state's appointed lieutenant governor before losing his bid last fall for election to a full term, could find new political life. Maldonado is dead set on running for Congress, and the most likely scenario that has emerged would create a district that would give him a very good shot at defeating incumbent Democrat Lois Capps. If a San Luis Obispo County-Santa Barbara County district is created, the voter registration would make it a tossup district. Maldonado would have a leg up because his base is Santa Maria -- a city that would not only be the largest in the district, but also one in which he could hope to gain more than the usual Republican share of votes among its Latino majority.
UP: Tim Allison and any other Democrat from Ventura County who might harbor an interest in running for Congress (Steve Bennett? John Zaragoza?). A Ventura County-based district that excludes most of Simi Valley -- a likely scenario -- would be one with a 5 to 7 percentage point Democratic voter registration advantage. That would be a challenging playing field for Republican Elton Gallegly, if he decides to run for another term. It might, however, create an opportunity for a more moderate Republican (Glen Becerra?), should Gallegly decide to retire.
UP, BUT BASED ON A HOPE AND A PRAYER: There is a lot of sentiment, and there has been much advocacy, for a legislative scheme that would create an almost exclusively Santa Barbara County Assembly district, and another that would encompass nearly all of Ventura County west of the Conejo Grade. That scheme also calls for a Senate district that would combine those two Assembly districts. That's going to be a difficult scenario for the commission to embrace, however, because it would leave commissioners with no good place to put a quarter million people in San Luis Obispo County. But if it happens...
It would create a made-to-order Senate district for former Assemblyman Pedro Nava of Santa Barbara. It would take in all of his old Assembly district, include his base in Santa Barbara, and take in all of the Latino-majority areas in Ventura County. It will also have no incumbent currently living within its borders...
It would also create an opportunity for a Democrat in western Ventura County -- an opportunity that Oxnard Harbor District Commissioner Jason Hodge is already preparing to seize.
DOWN: Just about every proposal that has been suggested would tear apart Sen. Fran Pavley's existing 23rd District. It's almost a sure bet that Oxnard and Santa Monica won't be paired in a district, as they are now. No matter how things shake out, Pavley's going to be looking at a lot of new territory. If the scenario discussed above were to materialize, she might have to consider making her Oxnard Shores condo her primary residence and running in the same district that Nava likely his eyes on.
DOWN: It's no secret that Sen. Tony Strickland has long hoped for an opportunity to run for Congress. If the congressional scenario discussed above were to materialize, it would include most of Strickland's current Senate district, but take out its two most solidly Republican cities, Simi Valley and Santa Clarita. Without those cities, it would be a very tough district for a conservative such as Strickland.
NEUTRAL: If the legislative scenario discussed above were to be adopted, it would create a tougher Santa Barbara district for Democratic Assemblyman Das Williams, but one that would still be winnable. A more likely scenario is one that largely resembles his current district, only without its Oxnard portions. Again, that would be a less advantageous district for him, but still one that would favor a Democratic incumbent.
NEUTRAL: Under either legislative scenario, it would appear that incumbent Assemblyman Jeff Gorell of Camarillo would end up with a very winnable district. In one case, however, he would have to move, probably to Thousand Oaks. In the other, he would end up with Oxnard in his district, a development that would make his re-election campaign more challenging.
All of this is grossly speculative, but you can bet all of these politicians have been running and rerunning the various scenarios through their minds for months.