By Miriam Raftery
Image: final Congressional districts in San Diego County. Courtesy Citizens Redistricting Commission
December 21, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Yesterday, California’s independent citizen redistricting commission unanimously approved the state’s new Congressional district maps, which will be certified December 27. Today, two of East County’s Congressional members, Democrat Sara Jacobs and Republican Darrell Issa, announced plans to seek reelection in their new and solidly safe districts.
Jacobs’ 51st district has a 22-point Democratic registration advantage. Issa will now represent the 48th district, which has a 19-point Republican registration advantage. Among San Diego County’s other Congressional members, all Democrats, Juan Vargas has a 36-point Democratic advantage in the 52nd district and Scott Peters has a 27-point Democratic margin in the 50th district. Mike Levin’s 49th district, however, has only a slim 5-point Democratic edge.
“It has been the honor of my life to serve the people of California’s 53rd Congressional District,” Jacobs says. “I am excited to continue to serve so many of my current constituents and a number of new communities that mean so much to San Diego in the 51st district. This first year in Congress has been historic on many fronts, and through it all, we’ve shown that you don’t have to settle for the way things have always been done.”
She adds, “From historic investments in infrastructure, to expanding the Child Tax Credit and benefits for military families, we’ve succeeded in so much during this Congress, and there’s still more to do. I’m eager to continue working to build a future that works for all Americans.
Jacobs redrawn district includes the cities of La Mesa, Lemon Grove and El Cajon, as well as the San Diego communities of Normal Heights, Kensington, Talmadge, College Area, Rolando, Linda Vista, Serra Mesa, Allied Gardens, San Carlos, Grantville, Del Cerro, University City, Clairemont, Mira Mesa, Kearny Mesa, Sorrento Valley, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Rancho Peñasquitos, Scripps Ranch, Spring Valley, La Presa and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
Issa announced his decision to seek reelection in the new 48th district, adding, “It is a community I know very well, have represented in Congress before, and hope to continue to serve for years to come.” Issa is currently the representative of the 50th Congressional district. With redistricting, he will pick up the southeast portion of East County previously represented by Vargas including the communities of Potrero, Campo, Boulevard, Alpine and Jacumba while continuing to represent Lakeside, Santee, Ramona, Julian, Borrego Springs, several North San Diego County cities including San Marcos, Escondido, Fallbrook and Valley Center, as well as Temecula in Riverside County.
The redistricting commission was under a court-ordered deadline to submit its maps to the Secretary of State by Dec. 27 despite a six-month delay in release of census data. As a result, the commission held many late-night sessions to hear public comment and try to balance often completing interests. Potential court challenges could alter the outcomes, however.
By law, all Congressional districts must have equal populations with no more than a single individual difference in size. The nonpartisan commission is not supposed to allow political concerns to sway its decisions, must keep districts compact and try not to separate communities of interest, such as ethnic minorities.
The resulting maps for California, a heavily Democratic state, create 43 Democratic-leaning eats, seven Republican-leaning seats, and two highly competitive seats, similar to the current map except that the state lost one Democratic-leaning seat due to population loss. Statewide, Latino voters stand to benefit with 16 of the state’s 52 House districts now having at least 50% of voters who are Latinos of voting age.
“There was robust discussion in terms of how these maps should be drawn,” Commission chairperson Alicia Fernandez told CalMatters. “We know that not everyone will be happy, but I feel that they are fair maps for Californians.”
Commissioner Pedro Toledo, a no-party-preference voter and CEO of Petaluma Health Center, observed, “We accomplished all of this while in the midst of a global pandemic and unprecedented adversity that impacted us all personally, impacted our communities and our state.”