Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Hell is comin’ to the Arizona Redistricting Commission

I wrote in March that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission was set up to fail, there was no way for it to draw new Congressional and legislative maps using the criteria set out in the law without giving one or more of the criteria short shrift.

I predicted that no matter what it did, it would end up in court.

In July, I wrote that Republicans who had their knickers in a knot over the commission’s choice of a mapping consultant should wait until they see a map before getting hysterical.

Well, the first tentative map was released yesterday and guess what? Republicans are hysterical.

So far, Gov. Jan Brewer and Speaker of the House Andy Tobin have released scathing statements attacking the commission’s map and the commission itself. Tobin even made a thinly veiled threat in his statement that he won’t let the commission get away with it.

I now predict that my predictions of lawsuits were wrong. Instead, I think the Legislature may go into special session and attempt to destroy the commission or replace the two democrats and oust the chairwoman forcing the commission to choose another chair and start over.

I don’t know that they’ll succeed in that, but it seems now that lawsuits over maps may be the least of what happens.

Hold on tight, this is going to get ugly.

Text of governor’s statement:

Governor Brewer: Redistricting Commission Has Botched Process
Proposed Congressional Map is Fatally Flawed and a Partisan Giveaway to Democrats

Governor Jan Brewer today blasted a new Arizona congressional map preliminarily adopted this week by the Independent Redistricting Commission.

“The IRC proposal is simply gerrymandering at its worst,” said Governor Brewer. “This unaccountable, unelected Commission has misused its authority to draw a congressional map that is every Democrat’s dream. In doing so, they’ve violated their bedrock legal requirements to maintain districts that protect communities of interest and are geographically compact.”

Arizona undergoes redistricting every 10 years, with the new map generally tweaking congressional boundaries to account for population shifts and the gain or loss of districts. This new proposal, however, throws that concept out the window – completely rewriting Arizona’s congressional lines in a move that splits counties and communities and tosses large numbers of voters and sitting members of Congress into new districts.

To what end? The consensus among independent national and local media is becoming clear: to benefit Democrats. National political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, author of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, said the proposed congressional map has “significant partisan implications,” and “really helps Democrats and screws Republicans.” Politico said the draft plan “has the potential to drastically alter the state’s congressional landscape,” and that the map has Democrats “poised for gains.”

“Allegations have been rampant throughout the redistricting process that the IRC has violated the law, from its refusal to cooperate with a state investigation, to its disregard of procurement procedures and Arizona’s Open Meeting Law,” Governor Brewer said. “I’ve held my tongue, waiting for the results of the Arizona Attorney General’s investigation and hoping the IRC would put forward a fair proposal consistent with the requirements set forth in the Arizona Constitution. This map dashes those hopes, and I’ll be silent no longer. Arizona voters are owed a redistricting process that is lawful and transparent. The Arizona Constitution mandates that IRC members conduct redistricting ‘in an honest, independent and impartial fashion, upholding public confidence in the integrity of the redistricting process.’  Based on this proposal and the IRC’s prior behavior, it seems clear the commission is bent on awarding to the Democratic Party control of congressional districts that it could not win on Election Day. This is nothing less than neglect of duty and gross misconduct.”

Members of the public will have 30 days in which to comment on this proposed congressional map. The IRC will host public hearings around the state beginning Oct. 11, or members of the public may comment at the IRC’s website: www.AZredistricting.org <http://www.AZredistricting.org> .

“I’ll be formally commenting to let the IRC know how I feel, and I urge Arizonans to do the same,” said Governor Brewer. “Redistricting only happens once every decade, and nothing will play a more critical role in Arizona’s congressional makeup. This is our opportunity to stop this travesty.”


Text of Speaker Tobin’s statement:

Speaker Tobin Criticizes IRC Congressional Map

This statement is attributed to Speaker Andy Tobin (R-District 1):
“Up until now I have intentionally not commented on the actions of the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) hoping they would follow their constitutionally mandated duty of providing fair maps in an independent and transparent manner. Unfortunately this has not happened. The spirit of the voters’ intent in developing fair and independent maps has been hijacked.

The draft map adopted by three commissioners of the IRC fails to meet the standards set forth in the Arizona Constitution.

Further, the process has been flawed. Commissioners voted on this map without even looking at the data or the map they voted on. The “we need to vote on it so we can see what’s in it” approach didn’t work for Obamacare. Neither will it work for the Congressional and Legislative District maps all Arizonans will have to live with for the next ten years.

For Arizonans to have confidence in the constitutionality of the maps, we must be assured the Commission adheres to all of the necessary criteria and is conducted in an open and transparent process so we know the rationale behind the maps and the data that drives it.

I hope the Commission listens to the concerns of the entire public during this thirty-day comment period, especially those in rural Arizona.

The Arizona House of Representatives will defend our citizens against efforts to gerrymander votes by hijacking the process.

Response to the above from the Arizona Democratic Party:

Statement on AZGOP coordinated attack on independent redistricting commission
Andrei Cherny, Arizona Democratic Party chairman, released the following statement in response to Gov. Brewer and the AZGOP’s coordinated attack today on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission:

“Arizona currently has four safe GOP districts, two safe Democratic districts and two competitive districts. Earlier this week, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission produced a draft map that features four safe GOP districts, two safe Democratic districts and three competitive districts. Based on this change, the citizen commission members are now being attacked by Governor Brewer in an over-the-top statement with overheated and ugly accusations. Several other Republican leaders, including U.S. Sens. McCain and Kyl, U.S. Rep. Quayle and state House Speaker Tobin, released similar attacks today in a blatantly coordinated assault. The truth is, districts that are close to 50/50 can give independents — fast becoming our state’s biggest voting block — a voice. We should have even more competitive districts than this commission has thus far provided.

“Governor Brewer’s partisan statement today cited political analyst Stuart Rothenberg and The Washington Post to say that Democrats had a chance at winning four or five seats. That means competition. Is Governor Brewer against competition? It sure looks like she is. Proposition 106 says the independent commission is charged to ‘oversee the mapping of fair and competitive congressional and legislative districts.’  If Democrats ‘have the chance’ to win in these three toss-up districts while Republicans are assured of victory in four, that is too little competition, not too much. What this is about is a small group of political insiders who have grown accustomed to using gerrymandering to keep a stranglehold of power in a closely divided state.

“The only reason 50/50 districts are a threat to Republican electoral prospects is because of the extreme, out-of-touch agenda that Arizona Republican leaders have been pursuing. Gov. Brewer should spend less time on bullying and more on job creation, and substitute real leadership for these partisan attacks. It is beneath the dignity of the governorship and not in keeping with the best interests of the state.”

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