The NYT has an article on the upcoming House primary match between the San Fernando Valley's two incumbent Democratic Congressmen, Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and former House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-Hollywood Hills), that completely misses the main news story: Why are two lavishly funded Jewish liberals with 46 years in the House between them having to slug it out for political survival when they had reigned in side by side Valley districts since 1993?
Because of the Hispanic Electoral Tsunami, that's why. I read a half dozen articles per week about how the rising tide of Latinos will doom Republican politicians, but they are also taking districts away from white Democratic politicians, too, including full-time Friends of Israel like Berman and Sherman. But that concept would be too confusing and disturbing for NYT readers, apparently, to be fit to print.
After the 2000 Census enumerated the vast Hispanic population of the northeastern San Fernando Valley, it looked certain that either Berman or Sherman would lose his seat to a Latino. But Rep. Berman hired his brother to redistrict the entire state of California in a giant game of political Tetris. Mike Berman managed to craft two interlocking districts for Sherman and Berman in which there weren't quite enough Latinos in either to mount a serious primary challenge. Sherman got many of the middle class parts of the Valley, amenable to his regular guy retail pol routine. Berman got a hi-lo district of the Hollywood Hills and the poorest, least likely to vote Mexican parts, since Berman's idea of campaigning is a cocktail fundraiser at the Katzenbergs with Ehud Barak as special guest.
It was a brilliant solution to the Latino Threat, but all good things have to come to an end. Gov. Schwarzenegger put an initiative on the ballot handing redistricting over to a nonpartisan commission of citizens, in large part to prevent exactly this kind of insider dealing. It passed easily. After the 2010 Census, the commission said, in effect, "Hey, there are a lot of Hispanics in the northern and eastern parts of the Valley, so they should have their own Representative. And the white people who live in the Hollywood Hills and the western part of the Valley can have their own district. But, they'll have to pick between Berman and Sherman. They can't have both anymore because the Latinos get one seat."
This time, Berman (who is a very smart guy: I tried to stump him with a question when I was 16 and he just swatted me away) and his old frat brother Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) have come up with a new solution: Sherman should move to the exurbs of Ventura County and run in a district that doesn't have an incumbent, but that might go Republican in the fall. Sherman isn't biting. He likes where he lives and doesn't see why the Latino Tidal Wave should drive him to the exurbs.