OC’s 6 New Congressional Districts: Done!

Christmas-time is over; District-time is here! This is the first of my three planned posts about the new 2022 Legislative District Maps: the other two will address the Assembly Districts State and Senate Districts + BOE — and I haven’t even looked at them yet! I’ll also have a post about my own efforts to draw the Congressional maps — I didn’t do the others this time around — which I’m startled to say may have actually had some influence this time around!

I’ll make this clear up front: this is all a “hot take,” served slightly cold. Where I talk about potential candidates for various districts, I’m basing it on my knowledge of OC politics — which is less than perfectly encyclopedic. So your suggestions and corrections and additions are more than welcome. Because this is not especially controversial, I’d like for people to use their real names, but as usual only anonymous/pseudonymous attacks (that Vern or I don’t want to sponsor as if our own) offering significantly nasty and unfair things about people will be tossed into the pit of fire.

(By the way, geographic names are underlined and the first mentions of people’s names in a section are in bold. You’d be surprised how much easier this makes it to read. Italics indicate … emphasis! And these rules are sometimes bent.)

Let’s start beyond our county boundaries: For 6 of the 7 Congressional districts adopted in 2012, electoral-minded Orange Countians had to learn not only about parts of southern Long Beach, but also northern San Diego County, the eastern San Gabriel Valley and Chino Hills. (The 7th contained only La Palma in OC; I can only guess what else in LA.)

Now we have one fewer district: La Habra takes La Palma’s place of being shunted into a district dominated by another county. (And actually, their Latino majority will like it: La Habra and Whittier are already buddies.) Newly hunted into OC’s sphere of dominance are Artesia, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, La Mirada and it looks like some of northern Long Beach — and OJB welcomes them! (“Hawaiian Gardens, meet Garden Grove and Fountain Valley!”) Chino Hills stays with us, but in a district that will make it (and the former District 39) much happier. Fitting all of our districts into one rectangular photo just got a lot harder — or at least longer to scroll through — thanks to … Del Mar?) Yes, this is what happens when you tell the Redistricting Commission that “it’s so haaaard to drive all the way across Camp Pendleton”: they tell you to hold their beer. (And frankly, from the standards of elsewhere in the state, a drive from Las Flores to “where the surf meets the turf” in Del Mar is child’s play. No mountains, no snow!)

The California Redistricting Commission (“CRC”) drew some pretty wild-looking OC Congressional districts this time around — at least two that I’d never have had the temerity to propose — that sacrificed the interests of compactness and honoring county boundaries to the interest of keeping together communities of interest. (To be fair, I doubt that many people demand that the CRC make their district more compact.) That said, OC has a good set of Congressional districts! Aside from 38, only 40 and 46 do not seem like they could easily go either way — although two Republican-leaning districts might be competitive primarily due to the strength of their likely Democratic candidates.

Let’s go to the map!

In this pic, only Congressional Districts 38 (La Habra+), 40, 45, 46, 47, and 49 are OC’s.

In the above, reddish-to-maroon lines are county boundaries, heavy black lines are the new district boundaries, and thinner grayish lines are generally city and incorporated area boundaries. And yes, the district numbers and city names will prevent you from seeing some of what you want to see, in which case you can go to this link for a less colorful map — or you can download all sorts of things, some of which I’ll cover here and in the subsequent posts, from this page. We’ll look below at some finer-grained versions of this map, district-by-district, which will make it a little easier to tell what cities are where. For ease of viewing, I’ve freehand outlined each district’s borders below in orange. Let’s start with La Habra’s adoption into LA County for purposes of national representation.

District 38

La Habra — marked with an asterisk — isn’t that different from the East San Gabriel Valley. After all, it is “The Pass.”

In this close-up, I’ve outlines the new district boundaries in bright orange. (As you’ll note: numbers and letters make some of the underlying territory hard to see.) That asterisk is La Habra. The 38th covers much of the same LA territory as the old 39th — Diamond Bar, Walnut, Rowland Heights — but goes further west. In includes Whittier and environs, Hacienda Heights, La Mirada and Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs and Pico Rivero and then we get to the most likely power structure in the district: Montebello, home of the Calderon Crime Family. One might suppose this district could attract one of the charter-school-loving Rubio sisters, State Senator Susan and Assembly member Blanca, who are from Baldwin Park (one district north), but they could see this district as ripe for plucking. But one would be wrong.

The fact that this district was drawn as Latino, when everything from Hacienda Heights and east could have been put into an Asian plurality district with Brea and Fullerton, is in my opinion the main reason that we have the dragon-shaped Asian-plurality district in CD-45.

This is still largely incumbent Linda Sanchez’s district — and she will likely represent it for as long as she wants to. She may not get that many votes from its eastern half, which absorbs part of old CA-39 — Diamond Bar, Walnut, Rowland Heights, and La Habra, an area bereft of powerful Democrats (unless Rose Espinoza becomes a better fundraiser) — but she’ll clean up in its western half, consisting of La Mirada, Whittier, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, Pico Rivera, and Montebello. Her only possible vulnerability would occur if someone associated with the Calderon Crime Family were to try to take her out — but hopefully that won’t happen this decade. This is a place where a Green Party candidate seriously could make it into a runoff with Linda Sanchez — a win for both parties: more exposure for the Greens, another easy victory for Sanchez. Republicans might not care about losing the the western half of the district, but they might grit their teeth about not being able to bring out voters in eastern areas like Walnut and Diamond Bar. I’d expect a possible Republican challenge to come from one of those two districts: I don’t know what Ling-Ling Chang is up to after losing her Senate seat to Josh Newman, but she’d seem to be a possible sacrificial lamb here, just to buck up the November vote in the old CA-39, if she’s not busy elsewhere.

District 40

“East OC! East OC! My dream’s a re-al-it-y!

This district FINALLY brings into being my conception of an “East OC” district, which includes the relatively wealthy and culturally conservative communities of Mission Viejo past hills and canyons and Yorba Linda to eastern Brea. And then it takes one more step than I could even dare — it crosses the county line and takes in Yorba Linda’s identical cousin, Chino Hills! Chino Hills fits very nicely into the sociopolitical outlook of the district — which is not simply partisan, because cities like Newport Beach and Dana Point would not fit! — so this is truly an inspired move. (It also divorces the third of the tri-cities from different counties, Diamond Bar, from its far more conservative neighbors. Good!)

Here’s a closer look at the cities and such:

So many hills, so many canyons, so many people living in unincorporated areas!

Both in my submission and the finally approved map, a small portion of populated Brea is in the district. My brothers-in-law happen to live there — no offense to them, but with its mini-Anaheim shape Brea was ripe for splitting — which I mention only because not a whole lot of other Democrats do. So at first blush this is largely a race among Republicans — and not a huge number of names come to mind. The obvious one — and no, neither I nor Vern are in the bag for him if he runs against a decent Democrat — is, you guessed it, Mission Viejo Mayor Greg Raths. If it has to be a Republican, then better him than anyone from, say, Rancho Santa Margarita or Yorba Freaking Linda. He’s been looking at the Supes races (against Katrina Foley), but he’s a much better fit for Congress — and I think he knows it.

At first I snickered when I saw that the Cook Political Report assigns this district a weak “Likely R” — and then I realized that it makes sense given the district’s dearth of strong Republican candidates besides disfavored-within-the-party Raths. What other inland Republican here has the means stature to run for Congress? Anyone in RSM? Anthony Beall? Oh, Bring him on! Brad McGirr? Carol Gamble? I honestly had never realized how thin the Republican bench gets once one moved north of the coastal cities. Lake Forest? Well, there is Scott Voights, who might be able to land get a nomination with the traditional RPOC endorsement against Raths — but I think that Raths would easily beat him. Same, I’d say, with Aliso Viejo’s Mike Munzing.

Looking further north, I don’t know of any Republican in the unincorporated areas who could compete. So any in-district Republican besides Raths would likely come from one of six cities — Tustin and Orange (both of which I think are only partly in the district, but I’ll consider them all to be “in-district” for these purposes), Villa Park, Anaheim Hills — which I’m treating as its own city for these purposes — Yorba Linda, and Chino Hills. A woeful lot of Republican possibilities dwell in those five OC cities. (Phillip Chen (whom Wikipedia lists as being from Yorba Linda rather than Walnut) is probably the least tainted of them, but he’d be giving up his Assembly seat — of course I haven’t yet looked at the Assembly so I don’t know if he’s still safe.) Most of them — Harry Sidhu, Trevor O’Neill, Peggy Huang, anyone from Tustin and Orange — are too horrible to contemplate, so I hope that they all run in the primary and mutually destruct. (Let’s see those pre-emptive “clear the field” pledges to run here start right now, if they haven’t already!)

Chino Hills is a theoretically interesting possibility, in my view — because if lots of similarly mediocre OC Republicans run to try to beat Raths, someone from Chino Hills might be best poised to win a split vote. They would not get the RPOC endorsement in the primary — but neither would they need it! Ray Marquez is the only one I know of that has ever tried to move up — to the Assembly, in the first race that Philip Chen won — but he doesn’t likely have the chops.

Then we should consider those from out of the district. If she weren’t 82, this would be an obvious place for Pat Bates to run, now that she is at long last termed out of the Legislature. (She served 6 years in the Assembly, then 8 in the State Senate — still qualifying under the old 14-year term limit.) But I imagine she has earned retirement by next year.

It could be someone from the more star-studded coast: someone in the mold of Bates or Diane Harkey or Mimi Walters or Lisa Bartlett. (Is that a “type”?) We already know that Mimi has been willing to fake-move at the drop of a hat. But could they beat Raths in a district more stolid and patriotic about amassing flashy wealth? I seriously doubt it.

On the other hand, Assemblywoman Laurie Davies is right over the district border in Laguna Niguel, and if she’s willing to give up her AD-73 (now to become AD-74) Assembly seat, (and not inclined to run in her own CA-49 against Mike Levin, this might be a congenial spot for her. I haven’t looked at her fundraising history, but I’m guessing that she could compete with Raths — and she does have a home-field advantage over the next candidate I’ll name.

But let’s allow our minds to wander. Could the nominee be someone from, oh … Buena Park? Seriously, that’s where the Cook Political Report found its likely candidate for this seat — a woman named Young Kim. It would make some sense, despite its being a big thumb gouge into the eye of eastern OC (which among other things is not particularly Asian — nor perhaps that Asian-friendly) — because these lines have North OC incumbent Rep. Kim rather stuck. She can’t run against Michelle Steel in 45, she can’t win in Latino Democratic 38 or 46, so that leaves either tough races against Katie Porter in 47, Mike Levin in 49, running out of the area, or the open seat in 40 with a massively Republican electorate. Why not just file for the only Congressional race in the county that she could win? A Raths vs. Young Kim primary race would be a funny clash of stylistic contrasts; in a runoff between them, I’d be trying to corral my fellow Democrats into voting for Raths. (Because I can! Bwaaahahaha!)

But could any Democrat compete with Raths and whatever other Republicans run in 40? Yes, I think one could, but let’s go through the process of elimination before the big reveal.

Let’s go through the cities: Aliso Viejo has three decent Democrats — Ross Chun, Tiffany Ackley, and Richard Hurt — on its Council, but I doubt that any of them could win in this district. (I’d propose that Chun and Ackley both pull papers, though, and at least one of them should be ready to run if 84 Republicans threaten to split the vote. A Dem-on-Dem runoff here would be hilarious! OK, moving on.) Any viable Dems in Mission Viejo or RSM? Yoo-hoo? Nope and nope. How about the southern unincorporated lands — Ladera Ranch, Los Flores, Coto de Cabeza? Uhhhh, I guess it could be Joe Kerr, but he’d get slaughtered worse in this district than he would in the Supes race. (He could run here without having to move, though!) Laguna Hills? Not likely. Laguna Woods? I know some people from there that I’d be happy to see in Congress, but I don’t think they could either raise the funds or wow the crimson electorate.

Moving northward: Tustin east of the 55? I don’t think that Letitia Clark has the chops for this — and she’d get stomped in this conservative district if she ran. Orange east of Glassell? A possible comeback of Loretta Sanchez? Bad district for her, but she’s made bad decisions before! You have Florice Hoffman in unincorporated Orange, and she’s run for Congress before — but naaah. Villa Park? So far as I know, Andy Thorburn still lives in Villa Park, and would be formidable — but this would likely be throwing away a lot of money to face a very difficult electorate.

OK, what about Anaheim Hills? Oh, God — I could imagine Lorri Galloway putting her name on the ballot just so that she could elect a Republican — as is her recent custom — but this is a heavier lift than an Anaheim City race. (And she wouldn’t even win Anaheim Hills. the only place where she has name recognition.) What about Yorba Linda? Oddly enough, there is one prominent Democrat in Yorba Linda — one who even served in Congress! — but even if Gil Cisneros wanted to run for Congress again, I think he’s be more likely to run out of his district. Eastern Brea? I don’t think my brother-in-law Jeff Letourneau would run — and I don’t know of any other prominent Dems there. Chino Hills? I don’t think that there are any Democrats on the Council. It has some very good Democratic activists, like Jim Gallagher, who might be willing to run as a sacrificial lamb, but that’s not really what Democrats should be looking for.

So let’s look outside of district. Republicans have Young Kim from Buena Park — so maybe Democrats could get Connor Traut to run — at least he used to live in this district! I expect that he could raise the money to campaign, but this is pretty tough terrain. Someone would have to be really wealthy to win as a Democrat in this district. Really wealthy and moderate — so moderate as to make people wonder about their party affili — hey, wait a minute!

When Katie Porter announced preemptively that she was going to run in the Irvine + Coastal OC district against Michelle Steel, the candidate who lost to Steel in 2020 grumbled a bit about how Porter was more liberal than him, and thus he was a better ideological fit for the district — but that he would not challenge her in the primary for the good of the party. Good for you, Harley Rouda! Now, Democrats might have another request for you: to run in CD 40 and spend enough there to swamp the opposition.

In 40, Rouda’s moderation would be a huge bonus. His wealth allows him to cover a district from Chino Hills to the bottom tip of Mission Viejo. Rouda was sometimes disappointing to Democrats in a district that, after all, voted for Biden — but in this district it would be hard for progressive Democrats to criticize him for doing what he had to do to shore up his right flank (so long as he isn’t a jerk about being one of a few to give Republicans the ability to claim a “bipartisan” victory.) I would regret seeing him run a nasty campaign against Raths, if they made it to the runoff, but I don’t think he’d need to. In the end, I would rather see Nancy Pelosi as Speaker than Jim Jordan or whomever else Republicans would demand that Raths support if he knows what’s good for him. (If Rouda ended up in a runoff with anyone else, then just win, baby!)

District 45

It is not because this is considered “the Asian district” – one with only a 36.9% Asian CVAP plurality over a 35.6% White CVAP, with 23.0% Latino and 2.9% Black– that I say that it looks like a dragon. I say it because, from the hips up, it looks to me like a dragon (in Pokemon terms, most likely a Charizard with a little Rayquaza torso and Dragonite feet mixed in) in mid-flight. Here, take a look at the outline in orange!

The asterisk designates most of its Los Angeles section, in the Cerritos and Artesia area of LA County’s Gateway Cities.

I’ll flesh out this conceit with the help of the image below. CA-45 curves its way from its head in Brea and Fullerton and its open jaws in Placentia; its neck and upper chest extend from Buena Park through La Palma and Cypress; it curls its abdomen around Stanton and Los Alamitos; then its sinuous form swings up through Midway City and Westminster, where it is revealed that, um, it is wearing enormous snow boots, each the size of its chest — one in Garden Grove and southwest Anaheim, and the other in Fountain Valley and northern Huntington Beach. One mighty wing stretches out from La Palma across Coyote Creek to encompass Cerritos and Artesia, while below that a smaller bump — maybe the other wing stretching across the front of it’s body, maybe some sort of carbuncle? — stretches past Coyote Creek to Hawaiian Gardens, and perhaps both incursions take in a little of north Long Beach.

Admittedly, the analogy falls apart when if curves around Stanton. Snow boots just don’t come that large!

(There, that’s not what you expected to get from reading this piece, right?)

The designated incumbent in this new district is Michelle Steel, who counts on the Vietnamese vote in Greater Little Saigon and the Korean vote in and around Fullerton and Buena Park, plus mostly white Republicans, to propel her to victory. Jay Chen has already tried mightily to clear the field of other Democratic challengers; while we’ll analyze other possible candidates below, the smart bet is that Steel and Chen are heading for the runoff regardless. Steel is the wife (and some would say sock puppet — I’m happy to discuss that!) of former California Republican Party Chair and RNC Committeeman Shawn Steel; there is evidence that her actual home is on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. That creates no legal issues in Congressional runs, though it might affect whether she can vote for herself; Chen has been campaigning in north county for quite a while, though he currently lives in, if memory serves, Hacienda Heights in LA County (not far north of La Habra.) He was formerly on the La Puente School Board, and now serves on the Mt. SAC Board of Trustees.

In terms of identity politics, it’s an odd matchup: Steel is of Korean ancestry, but I’ve been told that even the Korean community considers her to be a faint echo of the well-spoken former Ed Royce aide Young Kim. Chen is of Taiwanese ancestry; Vietnamese have historically really disliked imperialistic China, and that has only gotten worse among American refugees since China became community. My guess is that Vietnamese immigrants might feel closer to nearby Taiwanese, resisting domination from Beijing, than to far northern Koreans, who have their own reasons to be somewhat accommodating to China. Younger generations in Little Saigon will likely enjoy the brainy and affable Chen a whole lot.

Beyond stark ethnicity, Chen’s personal history as a military officer will probably serve him a lot better than Steel’s history as a career politician who, thanks to her husband’s influence, was ushered into safe seats on the Board of Equalization (for 8 years) and then the OC Board of Supervisors (for 7 years.) Her Wikipedia biography shows that she has an MBA from USC, but no history of what if any outside-the-home work she did prior to he run for BOE. All it reports of her parenting is her story of yanking her daughter out of UC Santa Cruz, after her daughter voted for Obama and came to support marriage equality, for a year of “brainwashing” at Loyola Marymount.

Ideologically, Steel is an inveterate Trumper — anti-mask, anti-choice, anti-impeachment, anti-immigration, anti-LGBT+, anti-accountability for the January 6 putsch, and pro-fossil fuels. (The latter created problems for her when her taking money from fossil fuel interests was juxtaposed with her condemnation of the Huntington Beach Oil Spills.) What she has is access to an amazing amount of money: she outraised wealthy Harley Rouda by $200,000 in their 2020 race. Chen will almost surely be outspent — but this race, like Katie Porter’s, will also almost certainly be nationalized.

I’ve written so far as if this is only an Asian vs. Asian race, but obviously it is not. No Republican of any consequence will take on Steel — unless perhaps there’s a brazen incursion by the extremely self-confident Janet Nguyen — but Chen is not necessarily so secure. The district is almost as much white as it is Asian, and is about a quarter Latino beyond that. Lacking a challenger from, most likely, west of the county border, Chen, who is fluent in Spanish, will clean up in the Latino communities in the west of the district. With his Harvard degree, military background, and engaging and self-effacing presentation, he is likely to appeal to most white voters as well.

So who else might run? While an open seat is a precious thing, I don’t think many people would want to take on the high-turnout Asian-American community without having an obvious way to chip away at Steel’s base there — and while Artesia has a South Asian community I don’t think that it’s big enough to push a candidate into the runoff. I don’t think that someone from Cerritos, or Hawaiian Gardens has much of a chance here either. Let’s go City by City.

No Democrat from Brea or Placentia would have a chance in this race. In Fullerton, State Senator Josh Newman and Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva might be formidable — though this would put them into a new stratum of needing to fundraise — but they have their own races to consider; I don’t think that either would take on Chen for a Congressional seat that he has long targeted. I don’t think that anyone on their Council would run. Buena Park does have Connor Traut, who might be able to mount a campaign, but I suspect that he’s not quite ripe yet. Cerritos, Cypress, West Anaheim, and Fountain Valley seem unlikely to contribute a serious candidate. So the only in-district possibilities I could imagine might be someone from Little Saigon itself — likely an Asian-American Democrat from Westminster or Garden Grove. Most of them are either awful or are in their first terms; the only one I could easily imagine deciding to run would be Kimberly Ho — who, readers may recall, has some issues. But even as I write this, I don’t think that the Vietnamese Community is going to want to give up a chance for representation in their own home district, and one of the unpleasant old guard might give it a whirl.

If there is any Republican who could survive going after Shawn Steel’s incumbent wife, it would most likely be one from Little Saigon — like Janet Nguyen. But I don’t think she will.)

District 46

This is Conservative Democrat Lou Correa’s district — and I suspect that it will remain so. It hasn’t changed all that much. Take a look.

Some things just never change.

One change in this district is that it has grabbed the lower — poorest and most Latino — section of Fullerton, which is actually not a bad fit if you don’t mind splitting up cities. (Personally, I try not to do it, but we amateur line-drawers were not given the “city boundary overlay” tools we needed to avoid it.) It also adds Stanton and the westward-facing eagles head now has a lump in its throat, which I think is eastern Garden Grove.)

Correa is still the default Republican candidate as well as the Democratic incumbent. Generally, since his election, he ends up with a single Republican (or once a Libertarian) opponent. It’s hard to outspend Correa’s proponents, generally independent expenditures from the Building Trades and various money interests like hospitals and landlords, and probably the best way to beat him would be with a moderate Republican who might last only a term. But with control of the House so likely to be narrow in 2023, I don’t think that we can try that strategy: if Lou is not opposed by a progressive Democrat (or even a Green or leftist NPP) and then we just hope for the best. (Most of his big votes this past two years have been good ones; he’s been pretty good outside the county but still corrosive within it.

How do we keep a Republican from making the runoff against Lou? Well, the tried-and-true trick used against the left is to put up enough candidates to split the vote: progressive Dems would have to use that trick against Republicans. ONE and only one progressive Democrat (or Green) should run — and we should encourage many many Republicans to get into the race.

(It’s not very appetizing work — but this sort of skullduggery truly is how elections get won, especially in OC.)

So: we’re looking one progressive Democrats, other Democratic spoilers to block, tons of Republicans who might be induced into such a race. Let’s put up the map of the cities!

In-district, pickings look slim. Starting from the top down, with Fullerton, I believe Democrat representing this district is Ahmad Zahra, who if he ran would be a pseudo-progressive spoiler. Another unlikely but not-impossible possibility, based on the past City Council election, would be Supervisor Doug Chaffee. It would be a bold move, and not much of a step up, but at least it would open up a Supervisor’s seat and wreak the sort of havoc that is fun to write about.

In Anaheim, Democrats have been wiped off of the City Council with the exception of Dr. Jose Moreno and Avelino Valencia; Jose can’t run for everything people would like him to do, and progressives home that Avelino won’t. Denise Barnes would be a fine possibility, but she would need funds and a party not intent on smashing at her. So I don’t think that progressives would get their candidate from here. Frankly, any progressive who runs here has to know how to raise funds — sorry, Jeanine and Annette — and no one comes to mind. (Yes, there’s Ashleigh Aitken — but she’s probably not interested and in any event otherwise occupied with her race for Mayor.)

In Santa Ana, the only progressive Democrat who might be able to raise considerable money is Vicente Sarmiento — but I have real doubts as to whether his ascension against Correa would be allowed by the party establishment. While DPOC did rightly censure Correa for his supporting Don Barnes for County Sheriff, to the extent that anyone took it seriously at the time, I doubt that they still do. There are, of course, some horrible Democrats in this city — Miguel Pulido, Jose Solorio, etc., who might run as spoilers; or they could make a legitimate move on this district, but all that would accomplish is to make me endorse Lou. (Late-added edit: Oh yeah — there’s Joe Dunn again, I presume. I highly doubt that Paolo Mendiolea can raise the bucks.)

I don’t think that there’s any viable Democrat in Orange or Tustin (either in or almost-in the district) except perhaps for Loretta Sanchez — and, hmmm, you know, maybe that could work! She does seem a little restless. She’s only progressive some of the time, but not devoted to hippie-punching and purging the left like Lou is.

Am I missing anything? Oh yeah, Stanton. Ada Briceno’s medium-term plan is supposed to take her to the State Senate, rather than to Congress — but she could probably give Lou a good fight in this district, focusing on his past support for Don Barnes. Lou’s power comes from the Building Trades and their field game — and DNC member Ada could probably match or exceed that if she wanted to. (Especially now that the DPOC has moved, hurrah!) This would be the best year to do it, while Correa had new voters in his district whom he does not yet represent. But while Ada may not be shy about self-advancement, I don’t think she’ll seek out this fight. (Interesting scenario, though!)

When it comes down to it, a progressive challenge to Correa would likely have to come from outside of the district. And, frankly, why the hell not? Los Angeles County is full of politicians who will never get to advance there for the lack of available spots; here you have someone who is out of synch with his district and not all that popular. I don’t want to name any names. but an outside challenge wouldn’t shock me. (Are you listening, Keanu Reeves?) (That was a joke.)

Are there any in-district Republicans who might run against Correa? I don’t see one in Fullerton. I don’t see a viable one in Anaheim. (Too new, essentially.) Kevin Carr of Stanton, presuming he’s still there, might mount his usual ineffectual campaign, but that’s no threat. Maybe someone in Orange or Tustin might try, or someone from Little Saigon, given that there is a pretty healthy-sized Asian presence in the district. If that happens, then there’s a veeeeery remote chance that progressives on the left and Republicans on the right could squeeze Lou out in a primary. I just hope that we don’t get a bunch of loopy Republican bigots again. Republican James Waters will presumably run again, as will perennial candidate Independents Ed Rushman and Will Johnson. Seriously, if any anti-Trump Republican wants to take a swing at this, just to gain a nice platform towards party reform, the environment could hardly be better for it!

District 47

OC’s northwest beaches have been hitched to Irvine for the next decade — a pretty good move, given the commonality in education and wealth — so that means that Katie Porter is the incumbent in this district. (I touched on this in discussing Harley Rouda above. (Hey, could Rouda win in 46? Hmmmmm.) Porter — whom I now respect for trying to verbally melt off Farrah Khan’s face at the endorsement meeting back in 2018 — is the most indispensable member of OC’s Congressional delegation. Let’s look at the markup — though I think that there’s some error in the coastline in and around Newport Beach. (Do they think that only Newport has a continental shelf?)

This is not a great district for her — given wealthy Newport Beach and the bug-eyed mob in Huntington Beach — but it’s probably a better one then she had last time! She’ll just need to introduce herself to a lot of people. I’ve heard, but not confirmed, that she has moved to Seal Beach. If so, I wonder if she’s living near Michelle Steel? (I smell a sitcom pilot!) Porter will get as much help nationally as Elizabeth Warren’s mighty fundraising machine needs to produce for her, so the questions are: who will she have to beat — and can she?

I’m first going to offer three unlikely possibilities not keyed to cities, mostly to rile you up:

(1) Michelle Steel: Just because we all think it will be Michelle Steel in 45 doesn’t mean that she couldn’t change her mind at the last minute, run away from Jay Chen, and decide to take on Katie Porter in the Newport-centered district, which does have over 19% Asian CVAP, much of whom are of Chinese ancestry in Irvine. I think that Chen would still beat anyone who would replace her, but it might be in Steel’s interest. (This would, as noted above, open up AD-45 for Janet Nguyen.) And between Farrah and FivePoint, Porter’s advantage in Irvine could be attenuated.

(2) Mike Carroll: Similar logic here regarding Irvine, especially given that Carroll has tried to meddle in this area before. If Carroll ran, supported by a FivePoint campaign — and Farrah, and perhaps even Tammy Kim, failed to support Porter — it could undercut Porter’s support in her apparently now-former home. (She’d still get UCI’s vote, and activist base, so not all would be lost.) Porter being the “free shots and testing” leader in Congress might hurt her among HB’s Trumpers, but it might be that he and Farrah being the motive force behind the OC Power Authority would hurt him more.

(3) Jeffrey Barke: Didn’t think that I could come up with anyone worse than the above? Hold my beer — and I didn’t even have to resort to Tito. I believe that Mad Doctor Barke lives right next to, and works within, this district. His running here would truly nationalize the campaign — meaning that he could afford the run — and his run would jack up the HB Jan. 6 nuts up to 11.

Riled? Good! Now let’s look closer at the cities.

See, that “coastal shelf problem” wasn’t that hard to fix!

I think we’ll go left to right here. We have Seal Beach and its tiny neighbors Rossmoor, Sunset and Surfside; most of Huntington Beach; Costa Mesa; Newport Beach; the various coves and bays south of Corona del Mar, and finally Laguna Beach. (One might say that it’s Newport Beach surrounded mostly by communities poised to outvote it.)

This is a surprisingly Democrat-rich area. In fact, the main fault I place with the CRC’s map here is that Laguna Woods really belongs in this district and that blocky area east of the “Tustin” label (with the wrench and screwdriver sticking out of its top corners) does not. But that doesn’t matter, because Porter is not going to receive a serious challenge from a Democrat here — seriously, conservative Dems, reach out your arm to grab it and you’ll pull back a bloody stump, as they say in Texas — so we get to skip a lot of analysis. (For any ambitious Democrats in Huntington or Newporthey, look at District 46! State Senator Dave Min has a free run this time — I think he knows not to run against Katie Porter, but it’s not impossible!) Beyond that parenthetical, our focus will address only Republicans.

Seal Beach Area: Well, I already mentioned Barke, of Rossmoor, so now let’s all take a shot and try to forget him. I don’t think that anyone on the Seal Beach City Council, or anyone in the smaller beaches, poses a threat to run.

Huntington Beach: I don’t think that Erik Peterson has the ability to put together a campaign here. But I think that Mike Posey might have at least some inclination to try. Proud Girl Gracey VD Mark could also give it a shot for the publicity, knowing that she’d lose in the primary and still be able to run for Council. (Unless every other Republican pulled out and left her to run against Porter one-on-one, and thus miss the HB Council election, which would be hilarious.)

Costa Mesa: There are some Republican possibilities here, but I don’t know who might be able to mount a credible campaign. Oh, yeah: maybe John Moorlach!

Newport Beach: Well, you have a lot of possibilities here: Who’s the most ambitious, Moorlach’s buddy Kevin Muldoon, Diane Dixon, William O’Neil, Duffy? I don’t think any of them will run, but we can ask the Winships.

Irvine: Well, the obvious suspect here would be Assembly member Steven Choi, who already has a base in Irvine, and would probably be taken reasonably kindly in Newport Beach. But as his new Assembly district (to be numbered AD-73) will cover Tustin, Irvine, and Costa Mesa, it might make more sense for him to stay where he is for now.

If we’re looking at an outsider for the district, Laurie Davis also lives nearby (Laguna Niguel is at the 40/47/49 tri-point).

I still think that it’s Porter vs. Steel, but I wouldn’t be totally shocked if it was Janet or Moorlach, especially if Steel chooses to run in 40 instead. (And I suppose that in that case, it might be Young Kim here! Fun!)

District 49

Last and lowest, this district used to be pretty evenly split between conservative OC and more liberal northern San Diego County. Now it’s tilted much more into San Diego County. The portion in this district does have some conservative areas like inland Vista — so of course we have to be on a perpetual Darrell Issa alert — but incumbent Mike Levin probably still feels pretty good about this map — except about driving all the way to Del Mar.

The dashed line reflects the limits of OC’s sphere of influence — or it’s just my way of not confusing you by drawing right over the county line. The aqua-colored squiggles are just waves I drew in to remind you that this part of the district is just water.

On the Democratic side, nobody will (or even should) challenge Levin. I suppose that some Republican from San Clemente or so — I guess that now “Rancho Mission Viejo” is considered a thing! — could run, but it seems more likely that a challenge would come from Vista or Carlsbad. I’m not going to try to figure out their politics, sorry. Here’s the best I could do with the map of cities — which is not all that good.

At least this introduces you to the sort of CVAP information we’ll be looking at next!

As I said, I’m not going to go deeply into this one. I suppose an OC Republican who might otherwise be interested in CA-40 or CA-47 may end up here, but I expect that that person will come from San Diego.

An Interlude: Here’s a Taste of My Submitted OC Map!

I mentioned that I thought that I may have had some influence on this outcome with my submitted map — which was accompanied by a strongly worded brief on why East OC was a real thing! You can judge how my map — in which the top OC district stretching from Whittier to the Ontario airport is truncated — measures up to the approved ones.

Yes, you can fit OC into 4-1/3 districts, just the way that God intended! I think that my map is a hell of a lot prettier than the approved one, as well as more compact and less violative of city and county lines. (Aside from the top district, the only incursion is bringing Cerritos into the district with La Palma and Cypress, with which it was generally grouped before OC broke off from LA County.) The fine lines you see there are the “Census Block Groups” that we’re allowed to deal with — which is the equivalent of working with a paintbrush you’d use to cover a wall compared to the fine brush that the professionals get to use. (Not that I’m bitter.) With a finer instrument I could have made this look a lot nicer, for example by eliminating that incursion into Orange.

As drawn, the olive green district (similar to 40) and the teal green district (similar to 46, but taking in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Laguna Beach) cancel one another out politically: olive is clearly Republican and teal is clearly Democratic. The other two districts — the purple one (with Newport, Huntington, and up to Garden Grove) and the tan one (with Fullerton and the Anaheim Flatlands) would be competitive. The orange-brown district at the top is similar to the one in which La Habra has been included, and is heavily Democratic. So that would mean that OC could be anywhere from a 3-1/3 to 1 Democratic split to 3 to 1-1/3 Republican split, with a narrow 2-1/3 to 2 split being the most likely. I didn’t draw the maps with parties or incumbent residences in mind, but that’s just how it turned out.

While I won’t show it to you here, my big innovation outside of OC was to stop connecting Imperial County to southern San Diego County cities like Chula Vista and National City, and instead to connect it only to the desert areas of that county and take in the population by connecting it to the desert areas of eastern Riverside County, stopping near Palm Springs. And whaddaya know: the Commission ended up doing the same thing — which I’d never heard proposed before! When I finally finish the post on my proposed maps, I’ll be able to discuss all that and much more.

OK, the interlude is over!

The Statistics on the Newly Approved OC Districts

Here are the statistics showing CVAP — Citizen Voting Age Population — for each of the four most predominant Racial/Ethnic categories in the state (White, Latino, Asian, and Black.) It doesn’t include “two or more races,” Pacific Islanders, Alaskan and Continental Natives, etc.

Note that the district populations are determined by the total population of all residents, whether or not authorized to be here or to vote, while the CVAP statistic is based only on citizens who are of voting age. (Some of the latter still won’t be able to vote due to incarceration of mental disability.)

One thing about this table is absolutely shocking: there are no plurality Black districts left in California! The proportion of the electorate that is Black is now quite low — I don’t have CVAP figures, but the Black VAP (voting age) population is only 5.5%, and a disproportionate number of Black Californians can’t vote because they’re in prison or have not had their rights restored — but beyond that, the districts where the Black population is highest mostly slightly south-southwest of downtown LA, Blacks in those districts are still outnumbered by Latinos. Check Districts 37 and 43 for yourself.

Beyond that, there is only one strong Asian plurality district — number 17 (Silicon Valley) with over 46%. Asian CVAP in District 15 (San Mateo County, beneath San Francisco is almost tied with White CVAP, respectively just under and just over 37%. In District 28 (Pasadena/Monterey Park), Asian CVAP is a about 35.3%, about a point over White CVAP. And then you have OC’s District 45 (Fullerton to Little Saigon), where Asian CVAP is just under 37%, about 1-1/4 points above White CVAP. If you want to know why that ugly dragon district was drawn in OC — that’s why. I was not even able to get the Asian VAP number in an OC district all the way up to 30% (although the CVAP might have been better.)

Latinos have an absolute CVAP majority in 15 of our 52 districts. Whites have an absolute CVAP majority in 24 of the districts. This is despite the statewide White VAP exceeds the Latino VAP by only 37.9% to 35.9%. The highest Latino CVAP majority is just under 60% (northern Bakersfield and to its west to north); White CVAP is above 60% in 17 districts, including OC’s 40, 47, and 49. So when I criticized the OC maps from the Commission as being less compact and pretty than mine, bear in mind that they were addressing a problem that I tried to address — within the confines of compactness and minimizing crossing county lines — but couldn’t.

I don’t think that you can make a case that race was improperly the primary factor in districting when the Asian CVAP exceeds 40% in only one district — a district, by the way, that happens to be nicely compact. We do have a racial problem to contend with — but it’s that despite diligent efforts to do a fair job of drawing lines, a little over a third of the state — the racial category that includes me and Vern — has outright majority control almost half of our Congressional districts, and 60% supermajority control in a third of them — more districts than ones in which Latinos have an absolute CVAP 50% majority. That’s due to residential patterns, often the fruit of past redlining, and this is before we subtract out the number of people disqualified from voting.

I do my own districting my own way — ignoring partisanship, focusing on compactness and respect for borders while bearing in mind a general desire to respect communities of interest — because I want to be able to establish a standard of “fair districting” by which the final lines can be evaluated. I can make them look prettier, but I don’t know that — working on my own from scratch — I could come up with a better result than the Commission’s Congressional District team did.

Partisanship of Districts

This may be what you came for. Sorry to say, I have no idea whatsoever. I don’t see where the Commission reported it; I don’t see where they took it into consideration. I presume that someone will come up with those calculations soon enough, if they haven’t already, and when I find them I’ll publish them here.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)