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Unless you’re a long-time legislative redistricting activist or watcher, you’d be forgiven for not knowing who the late U.S. Rep. Phil Burton (D-CA) was.
Burton, a hard lefty and an intensely partisan Democrat, enjoyed encyclopedic knowledge of California geography and demographics. Elected to the California legislature in 1956, he was in charge of redistricting right after the 1960 census. In 1964, he was elected to the U.S. House from San Francisco. Along with this brother and fellow U.S. Rep. John Burton, he engineered subsequent drawings of California’s congressional lines to ensure our largest state’s delegation was solidly Democratic, at least until he passed away in 1983.