The irrelevant party

Trying to overturn the new redistricting plan won’t help Republicans become relevant again

At last count, two separate referendum drives are under way to overturn elements of California’s new redistricting plan. One would kill the state’s new congressional districts, the other its state Senate districts. Each must gather 504,760 valid voter signatures by Nov. 13 to qualify for the June 2012 ballot.

The California Republican Party has contributed $100,000 to overturn the Senate maps but so far has not been asked to endorse or fund the congressional measure.

The referendums may make it on the ballot. The GOP as a whole and numerous Republican legislators individually are unhappy with the redistricting maps for the simple reason that they are likely to result in more Democratic office holders.

But it remains to be seen whether they will be able to agree on the congressional referendum in particular. According to a report in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, the California Republican congressional delegation is “at war” with itself on whether to back the measure. Members whose new districts have a Republican registration advantage naturally feel quite differently about it than those in Democratic-leaning districts.

In any event, if they want to waste their money by sponsoring these measures, so be it. Most voters recognize that the 14-member California Redistricting Commission did a good job. If the measures qualify for the ballot, they will go down in flames.

The problem for Republicans in California is that they are becoming increasingly irrelevant. If nothing else, their utter failure to relate to the state’s large and growing Latino population dooms them to minority status henceforth. You can’t be a party of conservative older white folks and expect to prevail in 21st-century California. It ain’t gonna happen.