A decision by California's redistricting commission today could alter or jeopardize the political careers of numerous California state senators in what amounts to a numbers game whose stakes are massive.
Affected senators are Ted Gaines, R-Roseville; Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina; Rod Wright, D-Inglewood; , D-San Leandro; Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel; and Tom Berryhill, R-Oakdale.
Other senators caught in the numbers game are not likely to feel much pain -- Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, will be termed out of the Legislature in 2014 so she is ineligible to run in any new Senate district. Two other Democrats are vying for other offices, Juan Vargas of San Diego for Congress and Leland Yee of San Francisco for city mayor.
Today's decision by the 14-member redistricting commission numbered each legislative district, which is crucial to senators because odd-numbered districts are on the 2012 ballot while even-numbered ones will not be contested until 2014.
Impacts of the commission's numbering decision are tentative - their weight could be reduced for some lawmakers and intensified for others if the panel alters draft district maps before a final vote Aug. 15.
Gaines is targeted for an even-numbered GOP district dominated by Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale. For Gaines, the bottom line is that he must move to an adjoining district and run next year, or vacate his Senate next year and wait until 2014 to challenge LaMalfa.
Vargas, if he does not win a congressional seat, could retain his current Senate seat until 2014. At that time, however, he would have to move to another district or challenge an incumbent.
Hernandez would be drawn into an odd-numbered district with Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar. If he opts not to run against Huff next year, he could retain his current seat until 2014. At that point, he would have to vacate the Legislature or move to another district.
Wright would be drawn into an even-numbered district with Sen. Curren Price, D-Inglewood. Since his term expires next year, Wright would have to move to an odd-numbered district, run for a different office, or leave the Legislature and wait two years for an opportunity to butt heads with Price.
Corbett, despite being drawn into a new district, could retain her current seat until she is termed out of the Legislature in three years.
Walters' current term expires next year, but she has been drawn into an even-numbered district that will not be contested until 2014. She may need to move to an adjoining district, run for a different office, or leave the Legislature for two years before seeking a Senate seat again.
Berryhill's current term does not expire until 2014, but draft maps show him in a new district that will be on next year's ballot. He can give up two years of his current term to run in 2012, or he can retain his current Senate seat for three years and then leave the Legislature, run for a different office, or move to a different district and seek its Senate seat.
The redistricting commission is drawing California's legislative and congressional districts for the first time this year, assuming a duty formerly handled by the Legislature. State law does not allow the panel to consider incumbents' homes in drawing boundary lines. Voters created the 14-member commission by passing Proposition 11 in 2008.
* Updated at 6:30 p.m. to note that Sen. Ellen Corbett is termed out of the Legislature in 2014 and ineligible to run in any new district drawn.