When Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell returns home next spring from a yearlong military deployment to Afghanistan, he'll find that his district has been redrawn to contain more Democrats than Republicans.
Maps tentatively approved by the state's redistricting commission show Gorell in a Ventura County district where Democrats outnumber Republicans by two percentage points. A final vote is scheduled Aug. 15.
Currently, the freshman lawmaker from Camarillo represents an area where the GOP has a five-point edge. The Navy reservist was deployed to Afghanistan in March, a few months after he took office.
Spokesman Doug Lorenz said that prospects remain bright for Gorell's re-election, nonetheless. The new district boundaries add two naval bases and the city of Oxnard to the area represented by Gorell, who once owned a business in Oxnard, Lorenz said.
The new 44th Assembly District lies entirely inside Ventura County. Its voters favored Republicans Meg Whitman and Steve Cooley for governor and attorney general, respectively, in last year's statewide election.
Gorell is the only California lawmaker deployed in the Middle East, but he's certainly not alone in facing the prospect of new boundary lines. An independent redistricting commission has redrawn every legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization district as required once every 10 years.
No complaints from Lorenz about the new Ventura County map.
"It's a good district for Jeff," he said.
* Updated at 2:40 p.m., in response to viewer comment, to specify that Assemblyman Jeff Gorell's district was redrawn as part of a statewide redistricting effort.
PHOTO CREDIT: Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, waits to be sworn in with wife Laura on the Assembly floor Monday, Dec. 6, 2010 in Sacramento. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee