Capitol Alert

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By Jim Sanders

BERKELEY -- Charles T. Munger Jr. said today he has no regrets about spending $14 million to alter California's process of drawing new legislative and congressional districts -- even if the newly drawn maps bite his Republican party.

Munger, speaking at a redistricting conference by
UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, said that he would have spent the money to promote creation of a citizens' redistricting commission even if his own party controlled the Legislature.

"Absolutely," he said.

Munger said he contributed more than $1 million to Proposition 11 in 2008, and about $13 million to its companion measure, Proposition 20 of 2010, because he is a firm believer in fair districts and was fed up with legislative gerrymanders.

Munger criticized a deal struck between legislative leaders in 2001 to draw districts that protected incumbents of both parties as a "shortsighted and frankly vicious act of selfishness."

Munger, a research physicist, declined to predict how many seats will change party hands in next year's election. Whether Republicans or Democrats lose seats, the losing party will have deserved it, he said.

One key impact of redistricting -- even if Democrats continue to dominate state politics -- will be that even a slight shift in the partisan balance in the state's congressional delegation could have a big impact on which party holds the gavel in the U.S. House of Representatives, he said.

Munger steered clear of commenting on the districts themselves, but said he feels "a bit like a proud father" now that the state's redistricting commission has approved 80 Assembly, 40 state Senate and 53 congressional maps plus four Board of Equalization districts for next year's election.

"If you ever put that much money on a pony," he said of his investment, "you kind of like it when it rounds home."


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