SACRAMENTO: State Senate seat, District 12, farm belt: Commentary (Dan Walters), "California farm belt district a big target"....
* Sacramento Bee (Dan Walters): "California farm belt district a big target" - From the Bee:
California's 12th Senate District was born in a bipartisan political deal after the 2000The Legislature tailored the five-county district – centered in the upper but stretching west into the Salinas area – for a moderate Democrat, Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza. Cardoza instead opted to run for Congress.
Democratic leaders quickly shifted to a former assemblyman with a dairy farm background, Rusty Areias, to claim a seat, but a Republican farmer,captured it instead by the narrowest of margins. He went on to serve two terms before segueing into Congress.
Despite the district's lopsided Democratic voter registration advantage, the party was frustrated again in 2010 when Republican engineer Anthony Cannella defeated a Democratic legislator, Anna Caballero.
When an independent redistricting commission did its work after the 2010 census, it kept the 12th district largely intact, expanding it a bit intoeven though other districts were undergoing big boundary changes.
Why the status quo? Any election changes affecting four California counties were subject to U.S. Justice Department oversight under the federaland two of them, Merced and Monterey, were part of the 12th. Therefore, as the commission later stated, "Merced and Monterey counties were combined to meet the requirements of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act."
Last week, Section 5 was set aside by the U.S. Supreme Court, but the 12th District remains as designed in 2011. It's also one of a handful of Senate districts considered to be battlegrounds next year as Democrats seek to retain their 29-seat "supermajority" and Republicans hope to regain clout.
The identity of Cannella's Democratic challenger has yet to emerge..............