Nonetheless, the new maps will result in a different political landscape for our two-county region, and the Chambers of Commerce Alliance of Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties is gearing up to play a leading role in the 2012 elections. Here is a summary of how our legislators are affected by the new maps:
The coastal district of state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, now has a sizable Democratic majority, probably too much for this moderate Republican to overcome. He is expected not to seek re-election to the Senate.
The district of Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, will remain a strong Democratic district, and the freshman legislator is expected to seek re-election in 2012.
The district of Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, has been redrawn so as to no longer include any part of Ventura County. She is termed out anyway in 2012.
The district of Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Thousand Oaks, takes in some coastal communities and, with them, more Democrats for a split in party registration among Democrats and Republicans. Gorell is expected to be re-elected in 2012 but in a few years, the GOP may have a difficult time holding this seat in light of voter registration trends favoring Democrats.
The district of Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, loses a few Democrats, and the Republicans think they have a strong challenger in former state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, who announced last week that he has raised $700,000 so far.
The district of Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Thousand Oaks, loses Republican voters, and it is being reported that he may retire instead of running for re-election.
If Gallegly does retire, that would allow Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, to avoid a showdown with Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Santa Monica, for a new Ventura County Senate seat and instead run for Gallegly’s seat.
If Strickland ends up running for Congress in Gallegly’s swing district, that could open the door for Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, to challenge Pavley, as much of this new Senate district already falls within the district he’s represented the past five years in the Assembly.
Meanwhile, Strickland’s old Senate seat becomes one that favors Democrats and might attract former Assembly members Hannah-Beth Jackson and Pedro Nava, both Santa Barbara Democrats, along with Oxnard Harbor Commissioner Jason Hodge (who is reportedly engaged to the Senate majority leader).
Back to Congress, Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, both San Fernando Valley Democrats, have ended up in the same congressional seat. Thus, there is speculation that Democrats are urging Sherman to run in Gallegly’s district, part of which Sherman represented before the current lines were drawn 10 years ago.
Confused? Fear not, as the Chamber Alliance will evaluate each candidate carefully and inform local business people about where the candidates stand on improving our business climate.
— Brendan Huffman is executive director of the Chambers of Commerce Alliance of Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties.