This morning, however, the Joint Legislative Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting convened at 10am at the Arizona House of Representatives. Though AIRC commissioners had been "invited," none attended. Rep. Jim Weiers presided. Former AIRC commissioner James Huntwork and Tempe Democratic activist Lauren Kuby testified.
Huntwork described how the first AIRC approached its groundbreaking challenge. Weiers apparently tried to get him to criticize the current commission but Huntwork pretty much declined to do so. AIRC public information officer Stu Robinson told me this afternoon the commission received five letters today from Weiers, each addressed to one of the former commissioners. Exec. Dir. Bladine advised Weiers office that the current commission is not authorized to handle mail for the former members and returned them all unopened. Given that Huntwork testified today, and that the committee meets again tomorrow at 9am, perhaps the five letters were all "invitations" to dump on the current AIRC.
Weiers, by the way, had the audacity to ask Huntwork (who he, ten years ago, appointed to the AIRC) why he drew LD10 (the district Weiers represents) as the most competitive legislative district all last time.
The highlight of this morning's hearing had to be the interaction between Lauren Kuby, Sen. Biggshot and Rep. Weiers. For nearly a half hour, Kuby gave the two lawmakers a heaping helping of "what for." Her testimony was similar to that of Tonya Norwood-Pearson last Friday. Needless to say, Biggshot was as abusive with Kuby as he had been with Norwood-Pearson.
An update on last night's post about Carl Seel. Given how clearly "out there" he is (being a 'birther' and all), it's not surprising he would be upset about being in a district that's less heavily Republican than the one he's in now. His competition would include other incumbent Republicans who are more respected by traditional conservative constituencies (like Kimberly Yee, a solid anti-abortion lawmaker who enjoys support from Constantin Querard). So, it's no surprise he would be uncomfortable with the current outlook. It's still outrageous that he would (try to) blame mapping consultant Strategic Telemetry and that the Capitol Times would legitimize his claims.
Further, Republicans seemingly have been getting more aggressive in there attacks on competitiveness over the last week or so in AIRC hearings. Perhaps they are getting increasingly skittish over trends pollsters are beginning to quantify and articulate. Today, CNN reported on a Rocky Mountain Poll of Arizona voters conducted on October 13-14 showing Mitt Romney and Herman Cain at the head of the pack of GOP presidential wannabees. The poll also showed
The survey indicates that Obama holds a 45-40% margin over Romney in a hypothetical general election showdown, with Obama holding 44-38% advantage over Perry and a 45-38% advantage over Cain. All of Obama's margins are within the poll's sampling error. [4.1 percent in this case]-----
On Saturday October 29 at 1pm, the AIRC will hold a Public Outreach Hearing in Yuma at the City Council Chambers. Because the hearing coincides with a regular meeting of a tea party group, the Yuma Sun reports that the group plans to hold a rally outside the AIRC hearing. Because city officials refused to issue a permit for the rally to be held at the council chambers, they believe the group is renting a flat bed truck to use (as close to the hearing as possible) as a stage and platform for a public address system. The group's website already indicates a former sheriff of an Arizona border county is scheduled to attend.
So, Saturday in Yuma might be another one of those wild and crazy days for the AIRC.
*Mesa Convention Center - Palo Verde 1, Building B, Main Campus
UPDATED with a link to the Yuma Sun news story on the Yuma tea gathering coinciding with the AIRC hearing.