Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Redistricting -- what do the maps do to or for Arizona voters?

As you know by now, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission adopted a draft legislative district map yesterday to go along with the draft Congressional district map adopted last week. Both maps are now subject by law to a 30 day comment period. Unless some miraculous sea change occurs, the maps and the AIRC will again be subject a tremendous amount of vitriolic criticism.

Some criticism will be warranted. Vitriol will not. Despite criticism from the GOP, tea party and Laurie Roberts, the "fix" was not in.

Since it took a day and a half last week for Gov Brewer and Arizona's GOP Congressional delegation to get on the same page for their coordinated -- and remarkably unfounded -- press release attack on the AIRC draft Congressional map, one wonders how long it will take for them to start the second volley of rhetorical artillery.

At azcentral.com, editors have been polling today on whether their readers "trust the work of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission." Of course, the poll is unscientific and the question is wonderfully vague, so it's not very easy to determine exactly what they believe they are measuring with that poll. Typically, the Republic is rarely able to cover political issues in any depth. And it's likely azcentral gets plenty more readers than does this blog. Could they be trying to figure out how successful the UNfair Trust's propaganda campaign has been?

The only thing clear thus far in that poll is that by roughly 2-1, readers say they do not trust the work of the AIRC. And that's sad. But it could also foreshadow the possible success of a future ballot measure to expand AIRC membership to 9, with 3 Independents, 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans. That would mean the success or failure of the commission would not hinge on the decisions of one person. However, even though Proud Terri has been silent since July, we would be naive to expect no one will try to restore redistricting authority to the state legislature.

In the meantime, what does the legislative draft map do?

According to the Competitiveness Report (an Excel spreadsheet), depending on which index is used to assess the districts, anywhere between 3 and 8 districts are competitive. No matter how you cut it (or measure it), there are still about twice as many safe Republican districts as safe Democratic districts. Therefore, if Brewer and her ilk come out again this week to knock the map, it will further expose their contempt for the typical Arizona voter.

On the other hand, Luis Heredia, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party, issued a press release expressing his party's angst over the draft adopted yesterday.

The legislative draft map adopted today by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission lacks competitive districts and is a giant step backward, as drawn. Without more competition, extremists will continue to get elected and will discourage independent voters from having any say in Arizona's future.
"Voters want competition, but politicians want the status quo. We call on this commission to side with voters instead of politicians. After all, it's the voters who will be stuck with the consequences for the next 10 years. During the 30-day public comment period, we strongly urge citizens to make their voices heard and tell this commission that competition is good for Arizona.

The draft legislative map looks like, without dramatically adjusting it to make more competitive districts, the Republican supermajority in the state legislature would easily survive. I find that possibility extremely troubling.

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