Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Redistricting -- Lege races and AIRC lawsuit update

The more things change, the more they stay the same... or something like that.

Since we last met, there have been no changes to any of the districts drawn and approved by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission for use in the 2012 legislative and Congressional elections. But there have been developments regarding some of the litigation involving the AIRC and a couple of changes to the field of candidates for races subject to the AIRC maps.

Notable withdrawals of candidates:

  • US Senate candidate David Ruben, a Tucson physician dropped out leaving Richard Carmona unopposed for the Democratic nomination to fill the seat currently occupied by Jon Kyl.
  • Two-time loser Jesse Kelly dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for CD2, leaving former USAF fighter pilot Martha McSally and Mark Koskiniemi (a former chemical engineer now working for Pima County government) as the only two GOP candidates now seeking the seat of newly sworn in (just today) Congressman Ron Barber
  • Libertarian Dean Dill withdrew from the LD8 (a competitive district) state House race, apparently in the face of a challenge to his nominating petitions. He then filed as a write-in candidate for that district's Senate race. 
  • The four way race for the two House seats in LD13, changed to a three person race (all Republicans) as Toby Farmer dropped out. Farmer had faced a challenge to his nominating petitions. There are no Democrats running.
A couple of people have filed with the Arizona Secretary of State to be write-in candidates but other than Dean Dill changing from the House race to run for the Senate, none seem all that noteworthy to me at this point. In case you are wondering, an Arizona voter may write-in anyone, but if the vote is to be counted, the candidate must have registered with the SoS before the deadline of July 19 (at 5pm).

Additionally, an independent candidate may be nominated and placed on the general election ballot (the deadline for this has already passed). Three candidates apparently have qualified, former Republican elected official Tom Rawles, former Republican member of the Arizona House Doug Quelland as well as Brent Fine. Fine is an avid reader of the Arizona Eagletarian and seeks a House seat from LD18 (Chandler, South Tempe and Ahwatukee). Rawles is challenging Republican Senate President Steve Pierce for the LD1 Senate seat. 

The Arizona Secretary of State has also posted a list of Congressional and legislative candidates who have had their nominating petitions challenged in Maricopa County Superior Court. On the list, seven Republicans, six Libertarians and three Democrats. Including:

  • Rebecca DeWitt, Democratic primary challenger to incumbent Rep. Ed Pastor
  • Jean Cheuvront-McDermott (Ken Cheuvront's mother), Democratic primary challenger for House seat in LD24
  • Raquel Terán, Democratic primary challenger to incumbent state Sen. Robert Meza.
Terán says she will win the challenge, which falsely claims she is not a US citizen, and that she will mount "a robust primary challenge to incumbent Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix," according to the Arizona Republic. 

More to come as rulings are made on these challenges or if the candidates withdraw.

By the way, last week, Democratic activist Lois Pfau challenged the nominating petitions for independent candidate Mike Stauffer, who is running for Maricopa County Sheriff. Democrats believe that having an third candidate on the general election ballot will split the anti-Arpaio vote and assure Arpaio's re-election. No word yet on the status of Pfau's lawsuit.


The Arizona Republic reports this evening that Ken Cheuvront's mother, Jean McDermott, who tried to use her son's name on the ballot, was disqualified. McDermott's attorney apparently plans, according to the Republic, to appeal that ruling.


The AIRC still faces several actions in federal and/or state court. Thus far, none of the lawsuits have been dismissed but motions for dismissal have also not been denied. So, those rulings are still pending.

The stipulated briefing schedule in federal court for the challenge to legislative maps was apparently adopted by the federal court and AIRC counsel advised that a hearing is expected in August on the motion for dismissal. There may be additional documents filed with the court next week. If so, I will post about it then. Lisa Hauser and Mike Liburdi filed an amended complaint, earlier this month, apparently hoping that stronger wording will give them a better chance of not having the case dismissed. Attorneys familiar with the case said that there really did not seem to be much, if anything substantive added to strengthen the plaintiffs' position. The complaint is more than 150 pages, but you can get a look at what was changed in this pdf (only 49 pages). 

Additionally, on June 11, the Navajo Nation filed notice of appearance, a motion to intervene as well as an additional motion to dismiss the federal court challenge to the legislative district map. 

The AIRC is still working to prepare response to the legislature's lawsuit (seeking to declare the AIRC unconstitutional). The hubris displayed by legislative GOP leadership is still pretty astounding. Using taxpayer funds for a blatantly partisan purpose. There really should be more outrage at just the thought of those bozos daring to spend general fund money trying to completely nix voter approved Independent Redistricting. 

There WILL be a massive outrage, however, if the lawsuit is begins, at all, to gain traction. The ramifications would be felt not only in Arizona if a federal court rules in favor of the legislature. It also occurs to me that in such a scenario, we would expect numerous amicus briefs from citizen groups throughout the US.

In the meantime, there is pending action related to the Open Meeting issue (in the Arizona Court of Appeals), the Congressional map (in Maricopa County Superior Court) and the two federal court suits (challenging the legislative map as well as the entire concept of independent redistricting).

In light of the four REPUBLICAN initiated lawsuits, the AIRC had requested a FY 2013 (which begins July 1, 2012) appropriation of $1.7 million. The legislature approved $1.45 million. If any of the lawsuits are drawn out and lengthy, that $1.45 million will not be enough.  AIRC exec. dir. Ray Bladine said he is working on a budget and expects to be able to present it to the commissioners when they next meet (probably the second week of July). At that time, they will have to take official action to extend or renew contracts for legal services as well as with Strategic Telemetry.

Bladine also said the Auditor General has advised it expects to issue a final report on the AIRC in August.

And for my Tea Party friends in Tucson who have, from time to time, complained that I get AIRC information before anyone else, I have to say that I felt a little bit disappointed when, over the last weekend, I found out about the Navajo Nation filings only by reading an Albuquerque Journal story dated last Wednesday (June 13).