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Congressio­nal District 42 and the Mess of Port Politics

- By Anealia Kortkamp, Contributo­r

Number one is not associated with the dramatic. However, in the case of redistrict­ing, the once-a-decade process of redrawing election lines to more fairly distribute power, the one seat lost by California led to a map that required many districts to be shuffled around to compensate. Generally speaking, when a district is added, there is an obvious area where population growth is pronounced, which has been the case for most of California’s history, right until the state hit its peak population in 2019. So when it came time for the 2020 census, it was found that the state’s population had not grown by more than 1% since 2004. This led to losing a house seat in Congress, because while California’s population growth was flat, the population growth in other states, such as Texas, continues to gallop ahead. San Pedro and the rest of the Dominguez/Los Angeles Harbor Area in the 44th congressio­nal district remained mostly the same. Conversely, in Long Beach, the fallout of this is seen firsthand. What had been the partial constituen­cies of three congressio­nal district seats 47, 38 and 40, were redrawn to be includedin the newly formed 42nd District seat.

Looking into the history of the seat, before now it was all the way in Riverside County, being the seat of towns like Corona, Murrieta, and Lake

Elsinore. Largely rural, it was the rare safely conservati­ve seat in California, held consistent­ly by conservati­ve Gary Miller, followed by Kevin Calvert, since 2002. Now safely nestled into Long Beach, it seems all but certain that soonto-be former mayor Robert Garcia will be taking the spot. He nearly won the primary outright, missing it by 0.4%. His opponent, Republican John Briscoe, a member of the Ocean View Board of Education, is behind 20 points and has only failed to draw new supporters from the Democrat (and one Green party candidate).

Seat 47 shares the most geographic overlap with new seat 42, the former holder being Rep. Alan Lowenthal. In terms of actual people, come November it will be the constituen­ts of Lowenthal who will largely now be represente­d by Robert Garcia. Worry not for the Lowenthals, however, as they’re a comfortabl­e little political dynasty in their own right. Alan and ex-wife Bonnie (who ran against a non-incumbent Garcia for Long Beach mayor in 2014) both retired from politics in favor of our current assemblyma­n, Patrick O’Donnell in assembly seat 70. Instead, the pair are helping to ensure the rise of their son, Josh Lowenthal, who boasts a well-funded campaign, running in nearby assembly seat 69 in Anaheim. Power begets power, name recognitio­n begets name recognitio­n, and so whenever you start to scratch the surface of politics in America, you find for every big-name political dynasty you get tens of smaller ones, your Hahns, Bontas, Webers, etc. These then get backed by wealth dynasties, Gettys, Fischers, Pritzkers, etc. Plenty of dynasties of course do a little bit of

both, resulting in politics having similar names popping up over and over, despite the idea that we are a meritocrat­ic democracy.

With an easy path to victory, Garcia will almost certainly be headed to Capitol Hill come November. His record is that of the marginal progressiv­e that is becoming ever more common in California politics. Pro-union, pro-queer rights, an advocate for universal healthcare and for halting climate change, but always simply content to work at bettering the margins, never adopting a plan that will rock the boat or require a major shift in behavior by anyone, neither those in the margins or those in power. Garcia and politician­s like him, see Pete Buttigieg, and Gavin Newsom, seem to be the mainstream Democrat answer to more hardline young progressiv­es such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush. The question of the next few election cycles will be if that is enough. As wealth inequality continues to go up, will working in the margins and not fundamenta­lly upsetting those in power be enough to retain the consent of those you represent? If not, there may be a real race in seat 42 in years to come.

 ?? ?? Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who is soon to leave office and is running for the 42nd District in the U.S. House of Representa­tives. File photo
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who is soon to leave office and is running for the 42nd District in the U.S. House of Representa­tives. File photo

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