Judge restricts candidates’ wording ‘Incumbent,’ ‘re-elect’ verboten in redistricting ruling
Carson District Judge Todd Russell issued his final order in the redistricting case Thursday, declining to add language that would allow officeholders to use the words “incumbent” or “re-elect” in their campaigns.
State law bars public officials from using those words unless they are currently elected to the same district with the same number that they are seeking. The Legislative Counsel Bureau had argued that giving current officeholders that permission has been included in previous redistricting legislation and should be added to the plan drafted by Russell and his three special masters.
Secretary of State Ross Miller objected, arguing that the use of the words incumbent or re-elect was not at issue in the lawsuit and, therefore, it would be improper to add now. Russell agreed and declined to address the issue.
Russell issued the final order the day after the deadline for appealing the maps passed without objection by any of the parties to the case. In the addition to his order setting out the district lines, he added language to address the transition period between the existing legislative and congressional districts and the new districts. If the new maps had been put in effect immediately, a number of legislators would have found themselves out of office because they would no longer be in their own districts. In at least one case, two incumbent assemblymen would have been in the same district.
The order specifies that the old district lines remain in place until the 2012 election is over so those in office continue to serve this coming year. The new lines, however, take effect Jan. 1 for the purpose of candidates filing and running for the new seats. The new maps will become effective the night of Nov. 3, Election Day, since legislators assume office immediately after being elected.
Russell also ruled that the new congressional districts take effect Jan. 1 for the purpose of filing for Congress and Jan. 3, 2013 – when the newly elected members of Congress take office – for all other purposes for the same reason he staggered implementation of the legislative districts.
Finally, his order dictates that organizers of initiative and referendum petitions collect the minimum number of signatures required to get on the ballot in the new four congressional districts rather than the three existing districts. To do so, they will have to collect at least 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the 2010 general election, calculated by taking the total number of votes cast and dividing by four to get the number for each district.
The opening day for filing to circulate petitions is Jan. 1.