In September, this blog reported on the impact of a California initiative to create a citizen-panel to draw the new electoral districts. The commission’s efforts resulted in more competitive districts, with additional unintended consequences likely to follow such as more expensive campaigns relying on wealthy donors. On the other hand, more competitive districts are likely to draw more moderate candidates into the race, at least so goes the theory.
The Los Angeles Times reported in January that Elton Gallegly, the subject of our September piece, had chosen not to run for reelection. For some, this came as no surprise. A long-time representative earning reelection with big margins, Gallegly would certainly have carried his pre-redrawn district. But the commission’s actions placed Gallegly’s home in the same district as another popular Republican, Howard “Buck” McKeon. It does not require a top-dollar campaign advisor to calculate his chances of election in this new district, or in the new districts surrounding.
How his retirement will affect both California’s and the Republican Party’s clout in the House is uncertain, but not difficult to imagine. Gallegly not only chaired the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement and vice-chaired the Committee on Foreign Affairs, but OpenSecrets.org reported in January on his significant connections with pharmaceuticals, finance, and real estate corporations.
Gallegly joins a long string of representatives retiring at the end of this term, many of whom are stepping down at least in part due to redistricting in their states.
Brett Piersma is a third-year law student at William and Mary.