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If Mathis is ousted as Arizona redistricting chair, who replaces her?

According to Steve Muratore at the Arizona Eagletarian, there’s a chance the Arizona Senate will convene without Gov. Brewer calling a special session for the sole purpose of impeaching Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission Chairwoman Colleen Mathis.

If she’s removed from the commission, the four remaining commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans, will have to pick a replacement Independent from the short list of applicants selected by the state Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. The commission came up with five names, including Mathis.

Here’s a brief overview of the other four Indpendents:

Paul Bender (Maricopa County) -  a lawyer, Harvard Law graduate and former dean of the ASU College of Law. House Speaker Kirk Adams and Senate President Russell Pearce tried to have him removed from the list of finalists but a Superior Court judge refused. Most of his controversy comes from his long career in federal government including in the Nixon administration mostly defending the First Amendment rights of pornographers and later in the Clinton Administration. Chances of either Republican commissioner voting for Bender as chairman are quite slim.

Raymond Frank Bladine (Maricopa) – a former Phoenix assistant city manager, he also has had questions raised about his “independence” because he’s served as an adviser to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, a Democrat.

Margarita Silva (Maricopa County) – Phoenix lawyer with ties to both Pima and Maricopa counties having grown up in Tucson and getting her undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona but getting her law degree at ASU. She listed very little political activity in her application other than contributing money to campaigns or putting signs in her yard.

Kimber Layne Lanning (Maricopa County) – a Phoenix business woman who is also the founder and executive director of a “buy local” nonprofit in the Phoenix area. She has raised funds for many candidates, mostly Democrats, but a few Republicans including Phoenix City Council firebrand Sal Diciccio.

Bender has no shot. Bladine also probably has no shot, since he’s the AIRC executive director. most of the Maricopa County senators can’t stand Phil Gordon.

But whether it’s Silva or Lanning, or either of the other two, the question is, why in the world would they want to jump into this pit of vipers? Back in January when people were applying to be on the commission it was well known it was a tough job. But now it’s a nightmare.

Removing Mathis accomplishes nothing, except maybe delaying the creation of a useable district map into next summer.

Maybe that’s the intent? With no map a federal court would have to step in and create a map for the 2012 election until Arizona can get its act together, which then buys time for this current crop of conservatives in the next legislative session to put repealing the AIRC on the 2012 ballot.

Addendum: If the Senate also impeaches the two Democrats on the commission, here are the names of the other Democrats the appellate commission came up with (the two current commissioners are in bold):

Democratic nominees are Marcia J. Busching (Maricopa County), Robert L. Cannon (Maricopa County), Eric B. Henderson (Navajo County), Jose M. Herrera (Maricopa County), Linda C. McNulty (Pima County), Lawrence C. Mohrweis (Coconino County), William G. Roe (Pima County), Mark D. Rubin (Pima County), Jimmie D. Smith (Yuma County), and Marshall A. Worden (Pima County).

The law puts restrictions on having no more than two of the four political appointments coming from the same county. So, for instance, since the two Republican appointees are from Maricopa and Pima counties, if the Senate Minority Leader picks a replacement from Maricopa County, the House Minority Leader would have to pick a replacement from either Yuma or Pima counties.

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