California’s 10th Congressional District, currently represented by Representative Josh Harder, a young, up-and-coming Democrat, will become heavily Republican, most likely sending Mr. Harder in search of a new district. (It was the expected destination of Mr. Nunes.) That could cost the quiet backbench Democrat Jerry McNerney, who might find himself a sacrificial lamb.
The former governor who set the process in motion, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is watching the free-for-all with glee. When he took office in 2003, he had never thought of redistricting reform, he said in an interview last week. But what he found was a system he called “wacky,” in which Democrats and Republicans came together every 10 years to redraw the lines of State Assembly districts, State Senate seats and U.S. House seats to preserve the status quo — politicians picking their voters, not the other way around.
“It was worse than the Politburo,” said Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican who came to office after a recall election. “The Constitution says, ‘We the people,’ not ‘We the politicians.’”
From 2002 to 2010, one California congressional district changed party hands. Since 2012, when the first map of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s redistricting commission went into effect, 16 seats have flipped. He called it “without doubt” one of his proudest achievements.
The commission includes five Republicans, five Democrats and four members not affiliated with a party, selected from citizen applicants. Commissioner J. Ray Kennedy, a Democrat, said the panel must create districts of equal population that are contiguous and compact, and to the extent practicable, keep counties, cities, neighborhoods and “communities of interest” together.
A person should be able to walk from any part of a district to another without crossing into a different one, though bulges and loops do form to comply with the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that minority voters get representation. Competitiveness is not a criterion, but it is a byproduct.