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What the first redistricting draft maps could mean for California and beyond

Incumbents will have to battle it out with fellow incumbents within the same party, but the map-drawing process is not complete.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — From the local level to the national, California is in the middle of redrawing all district lines. It’s a process that happens every ten years.

Now, we’re getting our first look at the new redistricting draft maps released to the public Thursday. An independent commission is in charge of drawing the lines for state and federal seats. They could change significantly before the final round comes out in December. 

Paul Mitchell is the head of Redistricting Partners, a nonpartisan redistricting firm that works with many municipalities.

“We have the assembly and senate districts that have definitely had a lot of change," Mithcell said. "So much so that 28 assembly members now find themselves being in the same districts with other members and 16 state senators find themselves being paired up.”

What does that mean?

“So there are a number of areas where maybe two assemblymembers live kind of close to each other," Mitchell explained. "But they were in different districts, and so now when the commission moves the line, these two assembly members find themselves what we call nested in one district.

"These two assemblymembers now reside in one district, and either they're gonna have to run against each other, or one of them's gonna have to go load everything into a U-Haul and move back into their district, wherever it went.”

For Congress, there are some key areas under the microscope right now. 

How California redraws its lines could affect the entire country. To retake control of the House of Representatives, Republicans only need to pick up five seats in the 2022 Midterm Elections.

Take Los Angeles County as an example. Mithcell said it's the biggest Latino voting block not just in the state but the country.

“They essentially removed one seat where Latinos have had a voting right to elect a candidate of choice, and that seat is now gone," he said. "So I think that'll be something big for the commission to come back and deal with.”

Or the Central Valley, where Democrat Josh Harder who only beat the Republican incumbent in 2018 by five points will face more Republican constituents living in his new district. 

“Ended up creating a seat in the central valley that goes from Stanislaus to Lake Tahoe to Death Valley," Mithcell said. "Kind of a massive leftovers district after they got done drawing some other seats. So I think the commission will come back and deal with that.”

In San Diego County, we could see three Democratic congressmen fight it out as the new districts overlap with each other's territory. 

What are the elected officials saying about these drafts? 

Most not talking to the media, but they are talking to Mitchell about it. 

He said many don’t feel it’s the right time to talk because again, these draft maps will change. 

We also have to keep in mind that the independent commission’s job is not to care about how the incumbents' feelings, it’s the people they answer to. 

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