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"It was a splendid population - for all the slow, sleepy, sluggish-brained sloths stayed at home - you never find that sort of people among pioneers - you cannot build pioneers out of that sort of material. It was that population that gave to California a name for getting up astounding enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this day - and when she projects a new surprise the grave world smiles as usual and says, "Well, that is California all over."

- - - - Mark Twain (Roughing It)

Friday, January 13, 2012

California House seats are up for grabs

GOP Congressman Wall Herger of Chico was one of several
who has announced his retirement.

 'Musical chairs, except with switchblades'

The retirement of Rep. Jerry Lewis, dean of the California House GOP, marks the sixth and most significant departure from Congress in the wake of a new redistricting plan, portending a dramatic shake-up of the state's delegation.

California, after a decade in which only one seat flipped between Democrats and Republicans, now faces an election with about 12 competitive races. And some predict at least nine California newcomers could arrive in Washington in the next Congress reports the Los Angeles Times.

Lewis, of Redlands, is the third veteran Republican to leave, and his departure is likely to weaken the state's clout in Congress, where seniority still counts.  Three Democrats are also retiring.

The parties dispute how many seats they could gain or lose in the next election — Democrats now outnumber Republicans 34 to 19. One independent analyst predicts a Democratic pickup of two to three seats.

Retiring Congressmen
  • Jerry Lewis  (R) of Redlands
  • Wally Herger  (R) of Chico
  • Elton Gallegly  (R) of Simi Valley
  • Dennis Cardoza  (D) of Atwater
  • Lynn Woolsey  (D) of Petaluma
  • Bob Filner  (D) of Chula Vista

House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-San Dimas) has yet to say whether he will run for reelection in a new district or retire.

Forced into the same districts for the primary
  • Howard Berman of Valley Village, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, faces a tough race against fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman of Sherman Oaks in a new San Fernando Valley district.
  • Laura Richardson of Long Beach and Janice Hahn of San Pedro are running against each other in a new southeast Los Angeles County district.

"Redistricting is always the political version of musical chairs, except with switchblades,'' director of USC's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics Dan Schnur said. "But the last redistricting was done by the Legislature, which was specifically motivated to protect incumbents in both parties.''

For more on this story

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