California's redistricting veto stands


SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Pete Wilson rejected redistricting plans Monday that he called an 'outrageous gerrymander' bent on protecting incumbents, and Democrats could not muster enough votes to override the vetoes.

To force the plans into law without Wilson's signature required a two-thirds vote of both houses, or 54 Assembly and 27 state Senate votes. The override attempt failed in the Assembly 41-32 and in the Senate 22-10.


None of the Republicans voted for any of the plans last week, nor would they side with Democrats to override the GOP governor.

Wilson was in San Francisco and had no comment, but aides said he is prepared to ask the California Supreme Court Tuesday to step in at once, barring a last-ditch effort by lawmakers.

An independent commission that Wilson appointed to draw reapportionment plans was expected to announce its recommendations Tuesday. The plans could be submitted to the court, or reviewed by lawmakers if they chose.


Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, D-San Francisco, said there was nothing to discuss and adjourned the lower house until Jan. 1. But he told reporters he might call it back into session if the commission's plan was 'a serious effort' at a workable plan to redraw the voting district boundaries in the nation's most populous state.

Assembly Republican leader Bill Jones of Fresno said the GOP wanted to produce a reapportionment plan legislatively, rather than leaving it to the courts.

'We're still available' to negotiate, he said. 'It's still possible.'

In vetoing the Democrat-drawn plans, Wilson's message said they fell far short of a serious and good faith effort at fair redistricting.

'Redistricting is the most important legal enactment to be made this year, not just because it endures for 10 years (until the next census), but because it is the framework upon which our entire system of representative democracy is based,' the message said.

'The districts have been drawn with the objective of unduly protecting incumbents, thereby largely preserving the results of the prior decade's outrageous gerrymander and depriving the public of competitive districts,' he said.

A state's political district boundaries must be redrawn every 10 years after the census to accommodate population changes.


Wilson had vowed to block plans that don not give Republicans a fair chance to become the majority party in the 1990s, and his vetoes carried out a major mission for the GOP, which is counting on him to break the cycle of Democratic dominance.

Currently, Democrats control the Legislature and congressional delegation by 47-33 in the Assembly, 26-13 in the Senate and 26-19 in the Congress.

Brown said the vetoed plan would have provided the GOP a chance for an even 26-26 split in congressional seats and shrunk the Democratic legislative stronghold to 22-18 in the Senate and 44-36 in the Assembly.

Wilson, however, believes the plan provided lower GOP representation than Brown calculated.

Wilson said the plans violate the federal Voting Rights Act by fragmenting geographically compact and politically cohesive minority communities so that minorities would stand less chance of electing their candidates.

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