Thursday, May 19, 2011

Republicans Cry "Overuse of Race," Push Partisan Gerrymander for San Diego

SDCDP MEDIA ADVISORY: Thursday May 19, 2011

Struggling for relevance in a city that has become more diverse and more Democratic in the last decade, the local Republican Party is attempting to railroad San Diego’s redistricting process by offering a wildly partisan plan and discrediting the legally required consideration of race.

* UNLAWFUL PARTISANSHIP: By law, the city’s redistricting process must be strictly nonpartisan. Commissioners are forbidden from considering partisan input. Yet the Republican presentation – partisan right down to the elephant in their logo – offered a gerrymandered map of districts contorted to create a Republican majority on the City Council. For perspective, Democrats have a 12% voter registration advantage in the city, and 62% of San Diegans voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

* CLAIMING “OVERUSE OF RACE”: In a formal presentation to the city’s Redistricting Commission, Republicans told members that “race can’t be your motive” in drawing City Council district lines. Their clear goal is to undermine the Voting Rights Act and the City Charter, which require the recognition of “communities of interest,” including racial groups, in redistricting. In a city where the majority of residents are now non-white, their strategy reveals the Republicans’ fear of greater racial diversity on the City Council.

* PERSONAL ATTACKS: Failing so far to achieve their political goals in redistricting, the local Republican Party has methodically tried to discredit individuals associated with the Commission. They planted news stories essentially criticizing the Commission’s chief of staff for her youth, and they even went so far as to hire a right-wing operative to spy on and harass one of the commissioners who is Latino and openly gay.

“San Diego’s redistricting commissioners must listen to community members, follow the law, and stay above the partisan fray,” said Jess Durfee, Chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party. “The Democratic Party is respecting those rules, but we will not sit by silently as the Republican Party tries to railroad the public process to achieve their partisan power grab.

“The Republican Party might not accept the diversity of our great city in the 21st century, but that’s their problem,” added Durfee. “The Redistricting Commission has an important job to do now for all of the people of San Diego, so I call on them to reject the Republican distractions and scare tactics -- and just get on with their work.”

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