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Republicans launch effort to overturn new congressional district maps

August 30, 2011 |  6:44 pm

An effort to overturn the state's new congressional district maps got underway officially Tuesday when a Republican activist asked the state attorney general to prepare documents for a petition drive aimed at putting the issue before voters.

The letter initiating the referendum effort was signed by Julie Vandermost, an Orange County businesswoman who also is involved in a recently launched, Republican-backed campaign to overturn the new state Senate district maps.

Two years ago, voters stripped the gerrymandering Legislature of the power to draw political districts once each decade and gave the job to a citizens commission made up of five Democrats, five Republicans and four unaffiliated voters. The commission recently produced new maps for state Assembly and Board of Equalization districts as well as for Senate and congressional districts. The latter two have drawn criticism from Republicans and some minority groups who complain about their fairness.

Once the congressional map referendum has been cleared for circulation, proponents will have 90 days to collect 504,760 valid voter signatures.  If they succeed, voters will get the final say on the commission's maps at the June statewide primary election.

Carlos Rodriguez, a longtime Republican political consultant who counts among his friends and clients GOP members of the California congressional delegation, said he will be advising proponents on strategy and fundraising for the signature drive.  Rodriguez said he will be meeting with members of the group spearheading efforts to qualify a referendum on the state Senate maps.

Also Tuesday, the state attorney general's office turned down a commission request to alter its language on the petitions already circulating regarding the Senate maps. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission claimed the language was "misleading and inaccurate."

Deputy Atty. Gen. George Walters disagreed and said in a letter to the commission that his office believes the language "is true and impartial and is unlikely to create prejudice for or against the referendum."

-- Jean Merl

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