Gov. Jerry Brown and his fellow Democrats in the Legislature were frustrated this year in seeking a few Republican votes to close the state's budget deficit by asking voters to approve billions of dollars in tax extensions.
Support from at least two Republicans in both legislative houses was needed for the two-thirds majorities required to pass the special election constitutional amendment that Brown and Democrats sought.
As the months-long talks collapsed, the Democrats said they'd try to pick up enough seats in the 2012 elections to secure two-thirds margins, thereby cutting the GOP out of future tax issues. And the redistricting plans now nearing approval by the new independent redistricting commission could set the stage for achieving that goal, either in 2012 or in 2014.
Commissioners made a number of minor adjustments in their draft maps last week and are to have another review later this week in anticipation of releasing them for public review late this month and adopting a final plan in August.
Analysts on both sides of the political aisle have plumbed the new maps for their political content – a factor the commission is not supposed to be considering – and agree they would give Democrats a very strong opportunity to win 27 Senate seats and 54 in the Assembly, two-thirds majorities in both houses.
All 80 Assembly seats will be up in 2012, plus half of the 40 Senate seats, with the remainder on the ballot in 2014.
Paul Mitchell, a Democratic political consultant who runs Redistricting Partners, is one of several analysts who have tracked day-to-day changes in the maps being drawn by the 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission. He concludes that the Democrats' 27/54 goal is within fairly easy grasp, with several additional seats in both houses considered "swing" or winnable by either party.
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