After three days of breakneck mapmaking, California political junkies experienced their version of Groundhog Day on Wednesday.
But, instead of Punxsutawney Phil emerging from his burrow, they were greeted by low-resolution PDF files of maps of California’s congressional and legislative boundaries that signaled six more weeks of political mapmaking winter.
The draft maps, borrowing heavily from weeks of hypothetical visualizations, have largely upended political boundaries familiar to Valley residents.
With the shakeup, it’s distinctly possible that representatives for the Valley, hoping to capture prime political terrain and voter make-up, are on the move.
Case-in-point? The Valley’s Congressional delegation, which is seeing unprecedented map upheaval in the draft.
The most drastic change comes for Tulare Rep. Devin Nunes, who will likely follow mapmakers into the northern San Joaquin Valley and Sierra foothills to capture a district dubbed “ECA” – backed by a $12 million campaign war chest and a national brand honed as a battle-hardened conservative in the Trump era and ever-presence on Fox News.
Plus, the prospect of having the presumptive chairman of the House’s most powerful committee – the Ways and Means Committee – in a GOP-led Congress doesn’t exactly hurt for any California community seeking Federal resources.
The ECA district contains key portions of his current district in eastern Fresno County along with the Sierra Nevada mountains from Lake Tahoe in Placer County all the way to Inyo County, while incorporating major swaths of Turlock and Modesto in Stanislaus County.
That would open up the door for House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) to run for the district that skirts around Bakersfield in Kern County and stretches north to contain eastern Tulare County, Clovis and north Fresno.
Meanwhile, Reps. David Valadao (R–Hanford) and Jim Costa (D–Fresno) have some options to pursue with the current draft maps.
It’s possible that both could wind up running in the same district, dubbed the Fresno-Tulare district by mapmakers, which encompasses the southern portions of the City of Fresno – stretching as far north as the Old Fig Garden neighborhood – and includes the Highway 99 corridor of southern Fresno County along with two-thirds of Visalia and the entirety of the City of Tulare.
Both Costa and Valadao reside in opposite ends of the district.
For Valadao, the alternative comes via a district dubbed KingsTulareKern, which incorporates southern Kings County, including the communities of Corcoran and Avenal, the Highway 99 corridor of southern Tulare County and Porterville, northern most of the City of Bakersfield.
Much of the Kings-Tulare-Kern seat is similar to the southern portion of Valadao’s current seat.
And for Costa, the alternative comes in a district that may also be sought by Rep. Josh Harder (D–Turlock), that covers the westside of Fresno County, Madera County, Merced County and western Stanislaus County.
The draft maps offer a rare quirk for the Valley’s Congressional delegation.
It is distinctly possible that four of the five Valley’s incumbent Congressmen won’t live in the district they would represent in January 2023.
Unlike members of the California State Legislature, members of Congress are not Constitutionally required to reside in their districts.
This most recently arose locally when former Rep. TJ Cox (D–Fresno), a resident of central Fresno, represented the south Valley-anchored 21st Congressional Congressional district, whose northern border was miles away from his home.
Senate map pushes one Republican out
If the final map – to be approved in December – resembles the rough draft that the commission drew up Wednesday, Andreas Borgeas (R–Fresno) and Shannon Grove (R–Bakersfield) would be drawn into the same district.
That district would see much of Kern County, including parts of Bakersfield, combined with eastern Tulare County and eastern Fresno County, including north Fresno and Clovis.
On the other hand, an open district would join the fray that would include a population base in eastern Madera County, Merced County and eastern Stanislaus County while spanning down to Inyo County in the south up northward to Amador County and gold country.
Mapmakers crafted an open seat covering much of Sen. Melissa Hurtado’s (D–Sanger) current seat currently, covering south Fresno, Kings County, west Tulare County, northwest Kern County and Bakersfield.
Sens. Anna Caballero (D–Salinas) and Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger) are now situated in a district that strongly resembles the one represented by Caballero today. The district would cover west Fresno County and southern portions of the City of Fresno, west Madera County, as well as San Benito County and a stretch of Monterey County.
Assembly districts present clearer picture
In its second-straight day-long mapmaking session, the California Redistricting Commission finalized its rough draft maps for the State Assembly on Tuesday.
The commission posted the Assembly maps online before the meeting and made live drawing changes to them throughout the day Tuesday.
Here’s a look at the maps for Assembly districts in the Central Valley, with the noted changes made during the live session:
Almost all of Stockton, minus a slim portion on the eastern edge of the city, has been grouped together in this visualization with Tracy.
The commission did not make any changes to this map on Tuesday.
Asm. Carlos Villapudua, a Stockton Democrat, currently represents District 13, which is similar to this map.
Modesto and western Stanislaus County joins in with the northern Merced County cities of Delhi and Livingston in this visualization.
The commission did not modify this map on Tuesday.
This area is currently represented by Asm. Adam Gray, a Merced Democrat. With Merced and Modesto being split in this visualization, a new Assembly seat would open up.
This map joins a small section of northwest Fresno with western Fresno County, Madera, Merced and most of Merced County.
As was par for the course for the other north Valley maps, the district did not make any changes to this visualization on Thursday.
The district could attract the attention of incumbent Asm. Adam Gray (D–Merced).
While north Fresno and Clovis would make up the population base for this visualization, the district would stretch northward to encompass eastern Madera County, Mariposa County, Tuolumne County and Calaveras County.
The commission added Inyo and Mono Counties to this map.
That addition places Asms. Jim Patterson (R–Fresno) and Frank Bigelow (R–O’Neals) in the same district, meaning one of them would be forced out if this were to be finalized in December.
In this visualization, central and southern Fresno are grouped together with Sanger and Selma, as well as stretching out east to contain Orange Cove too.
The commission also added Parlier, Riverdale, Lanare and Laton to this district, taking them away from the Kings-Tulare map.
This district would match for Fresno Democrat Asm. Joaquin Arambula.
This map keeps Kings County whole while joining Tulare, Porterville and Dinuba to it.
As previously noted, the commission moved Parlier, Riverdale, Lanare and Laton from this district to the Fresno one.
The commission also expanded the district to include Farmersville and Woodlake, removing those cities from the Tulare-Kern district.
Asm. Devon Mathis (R–Porterville) resides within this district.
This map combines northwest Kern County with much of central and east Bakersfield.
The commission modified this map as well, removing the Olde Stockdale Bakersfield neighborhood from this map and extended the district slightly more in central Bakersfield east of Highway 99.
Asm. Rudy Salas (D–Bakersfield) currently represents this area of Bakersfield, but he will not run for reelection as he has started campaigning for Congress.
Eastern Tulare County joins with northeast Kern County, northwest Bakersfield and southwest Kern County in this visualization. Notably, the district also extends into most of Visalia.
In addition to the parts of this district that were moved into the West Bakersfield map, the commission also expanded this district to include Bear Valley Springs and Stallion Springs.
The seat would most likely fit for Asm. Vince Fong (R–Bakersfield).