WatchSonoma Watch

New political maps force North Coast politicians to adjust plans

New congressional districts in Northern California


New political district maps approved on Monday will color the race to replace Rep. Lynn Woolsey and prompt 7th District Assemblyman Michael Allen to move to advance his political career.

The new maps certified by the state’s voter-created citizens commission stretch Woolsey’s 6th District — formerly a compact Marin-Sonoma package — to the Oregon border and rename it the 2nd District.

“One big difference is I’ll be spending a lot more time in the car,” said Norman Solomon, one of four candidates for Woolsey’s seat.

New state Senate districts in Northern California

Most of the 2nd District’s new area was carved out of Rep. Mike Thompson’s 1st District, which is renamed the 5th District.

Thompson, D-St. Helena, on Monday said he will run for re-election in the entirely inland 5th District, which includes Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park.

“The district changes and transition will be seamless,” Thompson said in a statement. He noted that he has represented some of his new district previously, as a state senator.

In the newly-named 2nd District, with Woolsey retiring next year, Solomon is one of four people vying to take her place in what still will be a largely Democratic district.

New Assembly districts in Northern California

Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, is considered the race’s front-runner and his position on issues from foresting to rural funding initiatives will help him further in the new district, said Sonoma State University political scientist Dave McCuan.

But McCuan said the changes will also benefit Solomon, a prominent Marin County activist and author who has positioned himself as the ideological successor to Woolsey, a Petaluma Democrat who will retire in 2012 after completing her 20th year in Congress.

“It counts a lot of progressives, which is helpful for Solomon,” McCuan said of the new district.

Solomon sounded that same theme on Monday.

“As a progressive economic populist this is a great shift for me,” he said.

Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams and Petaluma Councilwoman Tiffany Renee are also running for the seat. McCuan said Adams’ challenges will include marshalling the resources to campaign effectively and raise her profile in the larger district.

In Allen’s case, the new maps put his Oakmont residence in the same district as Democratic colleague Wes Chesbro, in the newly named 1st District.

That presents the first-term assemblyman with the choice of running against the veteran Chesbro or moving. On Monday Allen said he will pick up stakes for another district.

“It looks like I’m going to have to move if I want to continue serving,” he said.

But Allen’s choice remains complicated even then. If he moves west he can fight to represent the newly created District 4, which takes in the Sonoma Valley and Napa, Lake, Solano and Yolo counties.

Or he could move the other way, into Santa Rosa, where he would contend for District 10, which takes in most of Santa Rosa, south Sonoma County and Marin County.

“I do intend to run, I just haven’t figured out in which district,” he said.

Republican leaders on Monday said they would back a petition for a referendum on the June 2012 ballot to overturn the newly approved state Senate districts, contending they favor Democrats.

9 Responses to “New political maps force North Coast politicians to adjust plans”

  1. I find myself responding to an anonymous poster named “Sarkey Fish,” responding to an unsupported and sensationalized claim that “The principles of a progressive are the dreams of Karl Marx.” I must admit this is not my idea of meaningful public discourse; but, okay, I’ll bite the rhetorical bait. After all, it’s a beautiful morning, my loyal canine companion is by my side, and I’m in a good mood. Besides, I admit, I consider Solomon a good cause. With that written, I’m not aware of anywhere Norman Solomon or any other progressive Democrat has called for the abolition of private property; so I’m left wondering what these Marxist “dreams” are. They sound very scary. But, despite having read The Communist Manifesto, the 1844 Economic Manuscripts, and even parts of Das Kapital in graduate school, I must admit I can’t make sense of this scary, subversive allegation. I’m open to learning more, though. In the meantime, if someone wants to see an example of what I consider a “principled progresssive Democrat,” a good place to start is reading Monday’s Solomon commentary, which I referenced in my initial post. Here it is again: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/15-7 . Or, as I suggested last night, one can read Solomon’s War Made Easy or watch the documentary based on the book. Such examples reveal a person who not only has democratic principles, but speaks out and stands up for them. We see someone who speaks out against and stands up to the type of undemocratic militarism that is documented in War Made Easy. If you read his Monday commentary, you see someone who has repeatedly warned us about and criticizes our era’s plutocratic corporatism, calling for what he likes to call a “Green New Deal.” The more one researches such themes the more one will understand what I mean by a principled progressive Democrat. Okay, this has been fun; but it’s time for me to do some work to prepare from my new semester. But, after writing this, I find myself motivated to volunteer some time for the Solomon campaign, too.

  2. Sarky Fish says:

    “…principled (sic) progressive Democrat.” The principles of a progressive are the dreams of Karl Marx.

  3. Hi again Celery Bob. My apologies, for my last post didn’t acknowledge that you did reference Solomon’s web site. Still, can you cite your specific sources so we can confirm the accuracy of your paraphrases? If you’re not misleadingly paraphrasing him, I want to know that. In the meantime, I still encourage other readers to review Solomon’s material on his web site and elsewhere, then decide for yourself. Thanks- Michael

  4. Hello Celery. There are problems with the new 2nd Congressional district, beginning with the fact it separates Sonoma’s county center from most of its county, and includes a northern inland region that also seems to have more shared interests with the district to its east. I’m not sure if these are the problems Norman addressed in the previous comment you didn’t reference here. But if they or something like them are, neither these types of criticisms nor criticizing some of Mike Thompson’s politics is inconsitent with anything Solomon said in this article. While I don’t spend a lot of time on this site, I am willing to respond to other posts. However, I do ask that individuals paraphrase accurately and, when possible, cite sources. Vague uncited references such as “ripping the idea of a north coast congressional district” or “lauding the north coast district” make it hard to respond. I’m left wondering “What are you talking about?” I admit I’m a fan of Solomon’s, but I remain a Critical Thinking teacher, and will thankfully welcome clear, relevant, and especially well-researched discussions, even if it means no longer supporting Solomon. In the meantime, it’s these very standards that lead me to be such a fan of Norman Solomon’s politics. I don’t agree with every detail I’ve ever read or heard; but my experiences of him are of a principled progressive Democrat. For anyoen who is interested in deciding for yourself, a good place to start is reading his book War Made Easy, or watching the documentary based on the book (It’s on Netflix and even on Google video). But Solomon has written many other books and articles, too, and made many television appearances on C-SPAN and elsewhere (once even on Glenn Beck’s old CNN show). I encourage each reader to google Solomon’s name and research for yourself.

  5. Celery Bob says:

    Michael – I checked out Solomon’s website and it confirms my suspicion that he’s a con artist, or perhaps a political gymnast.

    Two months ago he was in the press ripping the idea of a north coast congressional district and attacking Mike Thompson. Now that we have a coastal district, Solomon’s press statements suddenly are lauding the north coast district and praising the popular Thompson for his record on off-shore oil drilling.

    Did he think no one would notice? Solomon is going nowhere fast in the coastal district, despite his constant spin and self promotion. He would be a disaster in Congress.

  6. GAJ says:

    It is what it is.

    California has been pretty much a one party State for decades.

    In the coming decades, where fiscal discipline can’t be ignored, it will be interesting how the Democrats solve the financial nightmare they have created in this State.

    They’re “working” on Pension “Reform” as we speak.

    If anything dramatic comes out of that “work” I’ll be shocked.

    I predict the sound of a can being kicked down the road for future generations to deal with.

  7. Not A Chance says:

    This cracks me up!

    The conservatives puffed their chest out using the only tool they have left in California politics: the initiative system, and it blew up in their face! The citizens commission may have made the districts a bit more uncomfortable for incumbents but at the end of the day it just may have placed the last straw on the back of the Republican party here in Cali.

    Just a little P.S. for the conservatives who rail against the legislature, when the politicians drew the lines even the minority republicans in the legislature had a voice, when you give the task to the people of California they will shape the districts to actually represent their politics Moderate Dems inland and progressive Dems on the coast. Be careful what you wish for!

    Zipity-do-da… you guys know the rest.

  8. Sarky Fish says:

    In the first congressional district, the rural residents of the north coast will now be ruled by the wine and cheese liberals of Marin. This will not work and it never does when the elites rule the lives of the common people.

  9. This provides some interesting coverage of the electoral consequences of redistricting. If you’re interested in learning more about the issues, especially in the aftermath of the recent debt ceiling crisis, a good place to start is yesterday’s Norman Solomon commentary. Here’s one place you can find it: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/15-7 . I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I wish Norman was running for President. I’m thankful he’s running for Congress!