So far, only well known faces to the Long Beach area political scene have announced that they want to run in a new Congressional district that covers Long Beach, Signal Hill and chunks of surrounding cities as far as Orange County. And following a controversial redistricting process, no one who is applying to be Congressmember of the 47th district is an incumbent.
Incumbent elected officials understood that their seats wouldn’t be guaranteed after a new redistricting process put a non-partisan commission in charge of drawing California’s key political boundaries. Since the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) adopted their final redistricting maps last week, a new key Congressional district in the Long Beach area is a little more appealing to one more Republican who wants to go to Washington.
A new challenger who held the job in D.C. about a decade ago hopes to get his old job back, even though he acknowledges that the campaign trail for a GOP member might be not be easy. Former Republican Congressman Steven T. Kuykendall confirmed Wednesday that he has filed initial paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to begin a campaign and raise money just after the finalization of the CRC maps. A statement to formally announce his candidacy will be coming soon. Kuykendall was elected to Congress in 1998 and served one term for two years. He also served as a member of the Calif. Assembly between 1994 and 1998.
Kuykendall said in a Wednesday interview that he’s run many times in a competitive district and added that he was not looking to run for a “safe seat” where an incumbent could easily get re-elected.
“It’s a district that is not a lockstep Democrat or Republican seat. It is a seat that’s, in my opinion, going to be a toss-up seat, and right now it might even be leaning Democrat, but it’s more of a toss-up,” Kuykendall said, anticipating that there would a high number of decline-to-state voters who can vote in the primary.
A large portion of Long Beach now sits in the newly formed 47th district, but the new territory now includes portions of Orange County including Rossmoor, Los Alamitos and parts of Garden Grove and Westminster.
With the formation of this new district, Kuykendall’s competitors who are new to Congress but who are known in Long Beach are reaffirming their intent to run. Calif. Sen. Alan Lowenthal announced his bid for Congress earlier this year, but it’s too soon to tell whether he will be the main Democrat contender. Rep. Linda Sanchez, who owns a home in Lakewood, has not officially announced whether she’ll run in the 47th district or any other district, according to a media contact from her Washington office.
Incumbent Congressmwoman Laura Richardson currently represents a territory that covered a large portion of Long Beach. She announced in July that she intends to run in another nearby newly formed district which covers North Long Beach, Carson, Compton and surrounding cities.
So now that the district extends into Orange County, how will the Republican party fare in new territory?
“I think it’s a competitive seat,” said Long Beach Councilmember Gary DeLong in an interview Wednesday. “I think that the seat will be won by a Long Beach moderate. I think what’s in question is whether it will be if it’s a Long Beach moderate Democrat, or a Long Beach moderate Republican. That remains to be seen.”
DeLong is running as a Republican candidate, and at the time of his interview, he was only aware that Lowenthal had announced he’ll run.
Earlier this summer, DeLong announced that he will run for Congress, and he has a little head start over Kuykendall and other potential nominees. He said that he already officially filed his paperwork to run and has started fundraising efforts. The Federal Election Commission received his statement of organization documentation early this August.
DeLong is currently serving on the Long Beach City Council in his second term that’s scheduled to finish in 2014. The councilmember said that he’ll serve out his term with the City during his campaign for Congress in 2012.
Long Beach isn’t the only competitive Congressional territory since the CRC’s redistricting efforts dramatically changed lines throughout the state and split up districts that were formerly reputed to be Republican or Democratic strongholds.
A spokesman for the CRC acknowledged that the Commission has drawn criticism from those who resent the change.
“I don’t know anywhere in the constitution in this state that says there are Republican and Democratic districts. It says that there are legislative districts. They don’t belong to any party based on the number of people registered there,” said Commissioner Vincent P. Barabba last week during a press conference following the release of the final district maps.
The Commission could not consider which areas had been traditionally affiliated with a political party, and they also couldn’t consider where incumbents lived when drawing the new political maps for representation in Congress, the State Board of Equalization, and the Calif. Senate and Assembly. They were mandated to consider population changes and specific provisions for ethnic populations in order to comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act.