Stop the Fight! Redistricting Commission Vanquishes Final Challenger

You can stop the fight now, Mr. Referee.

California's redistricting commission has won. The commission -- and the maps it drew -- face no more serious challenges now that a federal court has dismissed a case contesting its Congressional district maps. Claims of political influence on the commission have dissipated. A Republican referendum against state senate maps remains a live matter, but its prospects are about as good as the Raiders' chances of winning a Super Bowl soon.

Which is to say: not very good.

In fighting off all challenges, the redistricting commission has established itself, politically and legally as a force. And you can expect to see commissioners -- and the good government groups that backed the commission's establishment -- take a victory lap or two.

They would be wise to take a lap soon, because the commission's reputation is likely to suffer come November. That's when Californians will go to the polls to cast their ballots in new districts. It's also when people are going to start calling the commission a disappointment.

Why? The non-partisan redistricting commission was widely touted as a political gamechanger -- that it would create more moderates and more political competition. But it's a safe bet that November's elections will feel like any other in California -- and produce more of the same: little real competition in a sea of safe seats, no significant shift in the partisan make-up of the legislature, and few if any new moderate lawmakers.

That isn't the commission's fault. Creating more moderates and more competition is an impossible task in a highly partisan era -- and in a state whose political geography (a blue Democratic coast and a red Republican inland) make it so hard to draw competitive districts. But the commission's advocates raised expectations. The commission has established itself. But the high hopes that many had for the commission are about to be dashed.

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