By Jim EllisDec. 23, 2021 — House retirement announcements keep coming, as late Monday veteran California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) made public her intention not to seek a 16th term next November.
In the 1992 election, Roybal-Allard, then a member of the California Assembly, won the open campaign to succeed her father, US Rep. Ed Roybal (D-CA), as he was concluding his own 30-year congressional career. Combined, the Roybal family will have held the Los Angeles County-based congressional district for 60 consecutive years when Rep. Roybal-Allard completes her current term at the beginning of 2023.
The congresswoman’s retirement announcement comes on the heels of fellow Los Angeles US Rep. Alan Lowenthal’s (D-Long Beach) pronouncement over the last weekend that he will not seek re-election. Both Roybal-Allard and Lowenthal are 80 years old.
The Lowenthal retirement apparently produced discussion within the California Citizens Redistricting Commission membership of collapsing his 47th District and combining it with Roybal-Allard’s 40th, which is nearby. They then agreed upon such a design, which would have meant a major constituency change for the congresswoman, taking her into a substantial amount of territory that she had not previously represented.
The redraw design makes sense particularly when seeing that the Roybal-Allard district, the most Hispanic seat in the nation with a population percentage exceeding 87 percent, is the CD also needing the greatest population influx, some 70,139 individuals, among the 35 California districts requiring more people.
Directly to the west of Roybal-Allard’s 40th lies Rep. Karen Bass’ 37th CD that includes Culver City and part of the Watts area. In late September, Bass announced that she will run for the open Los Angeles mayor’s office, becoming the first California member to create an open seat in the state delegation.
The original redistricting draft combined this district largely with Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-Los Angeles) CD, but with Reps. Roybal-Allard and Lowenthal now retiring, combining their two seats became the logical redrafting move. The Bass district was then restored.
Combining the 40th and the 47th into a new 42nd CD in conjunction with other adjustments, allows the Commission members to meet the state’s population quota of 760,350 residents per district throughout the Los Angeles metro area. Together, the 18 districts that comprise LA County required a population influx exceeding 620,000 people, hence collapsing a central and southern Los Angeles County pair of districts into one became the commissioners’ most logical solution.
The quickly changing national House open seat count grows to a total of 41 with the Roybal-Allard announcement. From this number, a total of 30 carryover districts (to new redistricting maps) will host open seat campaigns. From the aggregate, 21 come from Democrats with just nine Republican members retiring or seeking other offices. The total does not include the FL-20 vacancy that will be filled in a Jan. 11 special election.
Reapportionment is creating seven new seats (two in Texas, and one each in Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon), while four new open districts have been drawn in recently adopted redistricting maps: two in Illinois, and one each in Georgia and North Carolina. The states losing one district apiece are California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
At this point, 22 states have completed redistricting of the 44 entities that hold multiple districts. Six, Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming have only at-large congressional districts.
With the candidate filing deadline occurring so far in just one state, Texas, it is likely we will see other retirements coming particularly as more states complete redistricting and candidate filing begins in earnest during the first quarter of 2022.