How the proposed congressional redistricting maps could change Central Valley politics

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — With time dwindling, California’s independent redistricting committee is in the final frantic stages of solidifying the state’s 52 congressional districts. In the latest map released on Monday, Bakersfield and the Central Valley as a whole would see some significant changes.

“Kern County has the population of about a congressional district,” Republican Political Analyst Cathy Abernathy said. “Why can’t we just be one county and one solid congressional district? Its more powerful.”

Monday’s map has the Central Valley’s two largest cities, Bakersfield and Fresno, sharing representation and cut in unusual places. Bakersfield, for instance, would be split right down Chester Avenue until California Avenue. Bakersfield Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s likely district would include a large portion of Bakersfield but stretch all the way up to Clovis in Fresno.

Abernathy said putting cities like Bakersfield and Fresno in the same district will hurt local industries. “Water issues in Fresno County versus Kern County, the fact that we are an oil giant and other parts of the state are not,” she said. “I mean these are major issues.”

Meanwhile, one change is welcome news for Democrats in a red Central Valley: The district centered in Fresno — formerly considered Republican Congressman Devin Nunes’ district — would shift from deep red to blue-leaning.

“We’ll probably get a lot of Democrats running in that area because it’s gonna be more liberal,” Democratic Political Analyst Neel Sannappa said. “We are going to have more competitive Democratic primaries here in the Central Valley.”

California’s redistricting committee has until next Thursday to approve final maps for congressional and state legislative districts.

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