Early analysis gives Dems advantage in California redistricting

California released its initial redistricting map Friday and while observers are still poring over the new lines of 53 House seats the early analysis is giving the advantage to the Democrats.

The party could take four or five GOP-held seats under the draft plan, including those of Republican Reps. David Dreier, Elton Gallegly, Gary Miller, Dan Lungren and Brian Bilbray.

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The draft map contains at least 10 districts with two incumbents, one with three incumbents and 13 vacant seats, according to an analysis by Paul Mitchell, a Democratic political consultant in Sacramento.

The bipartisan California Citizens Redistricting Commission gave first round-approval to the map Friday. They are now soliciting comments from the public, will hold additional hearings throughout the summer and warn that the final version could look different when it’s released in August.

The commission was established by a voter mandate with the goal of taking politics out of the redistricting process and breaking the power of the incumbents.

And the member-to-member matches show it did just that.

Here’s a rundown of some of the head-to-head battles on tap for 2012:

Democrat Dennis Cardoza vs. Democrat Jim Costa vs. Republican Jeff Dehnam: This one is intriguing with Costa and Dehnam having moved into Cardoza’s home turf. Based on early reports, Dehnam could move to a new district to the east, which is based in the Dem-leaning Stanislaus County. Costa, meanwhile, could go toward a Dem-leaning district near Bakersfield. But he had a tough reelection battle last year and this new territory is not likely to be any easier.

Republican Brian Bilbray and Republican Darrell Issa: Early reports indicated these two members would be facing off next year. Turns out that's not the case. Some of Bilbray's district did get put into Issa's but Bilbray's office said the congressman will be running in the newly-formed district to the south, which leans Democratic.

"I will remain an effective representative for San Diegans in Congress in this proposed new district, which includes Poway and the city of San Diego. The new boundaries also include where I was born, Coronado," Bilbray said in a statement Friday night. "I intend to run for reelection in this district. I will continue to work to create an environment where small businesses can grow and create jobs, cut wasteful Washington spending, and keep our border secure."

Issa's office also put out a statement Friday night saying the congressman will run for reelection in his district.

Republican Gary Miller vs. Democrat Judy Chu: Most of the territory in the district is Chu’s old stomping ground. It’s unclear at this time what Miller’s options are.

Democrat Howard Berman vs. Democrat Brad Sherman: This is another tough race, pitting Berman, a 15-term veteran, against Sherman, an 8-term member. Berman has been shifted into Sherman’s territory, with his old district becoming heavily Hispanic.

Berman put out a statement Friday night saying he will run in his home district but noted that this is not the final version of the congressional map.

"California's Citizens Redistricting Commission still has months of work and numerous public meetings ahead of them.  Still, if the final districts look anything like the draft map released today, my home is squarely in the district it is calling 'West San Fernando Valley - Calabasas.'  It's premature to make an official campaign announcement until district lines are finalized, however, there is no question that I would want to continue representing this community," he said.

Berman already has an opponent. Shortly after the map was released, Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas (D)., a prominent Latino, announced he was running for the newly-redrawn district that encompasses much of Berman's old turf.

"People have been urging me to run for Congress, and I’m very proud to have the chance to be the first Latino to represent the San Fernando Valley in Congress," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Democrat Maxine Waters and Democrat Karen Bass: Early reports indicated that these two would be shifted into the same district. However, the two did manage to stay in separate districts although the boundary lines have changed. Waters' has become more Hispanic-heavy while Bass' stretches further west toward Santa Monica.

Democrat Loretta Sanchez vs. Republican Dana Rorabacher: Sanchez has been shifted into Rorabacher’s district. One option: she could move to a newly-created district, but it also leans Republican.

Democrat Linda Sanchez vs. Democrat Laura Richardson: Sanchez has been drawn into Richardson’s district. Again, no word on what the lawmaker might do but Richardson has faced ethical questions in the past, which could make a primary a viable option. Worth noting: the ethics committee has cleared Richardson in her dealings with a bank that canceled the sale of a foreclosed home she owns in Sacramento.

Democrat Bob Filner vs. Democrat Susan Davis: This is Davis’ home turf and there are reports Filner is planning to run for San Diego mayor.

Democrat Pete Stark vs. Democrat Jerry McNerney: These two would be lumped together and early speculation has McNerney taking the fall. He barely survived reelection last year and some of the early analysis has him listed as a "redistricting victim."

Democrat Doris Matsui vs. Republican Tom McClintock: Another pair lumped together but McClintock could move to a new GOP-leaning district nearby.

Republican Jerry Lewis vs. Democrat Joe Baca: Lewis’ has been moved into Baca’s district, which heavily favors Democrats, and will likely be looking for a new base.

Meanwhile, Dreier, a sixteen-term Republican, is now in a district that is overwhelmingly Democratic-leaning with a 68 percent Hispanic population and is made up of only 27 percent registered Republicans. Dreier told The Hill this week that he’s running for reelection no matter what but this will be a tough race for him.

Gallegly has also been moved into GOP Rep. Buck McKeon's district. Lungren, a four-term lawmaker, barely won reelection last year with 50.6 percent of the vote. He’s been a longtime Democratic target and 2012 could be the year they knock him out.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s district remains safely Democratic and Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy’s district remains safely Republican.

Again, these are early takes on a map that could look vastly different when the final version gets approved. And political observers will be watching closely.

-- This story was last updated at 3:21 p.m. on June 23.