Redistricting in Arizona is done! Last week, the Independent Redistricting Commission voted 3-2 to approve the final Congressional and State Legislature maps for the state of Arizona. They were submitted to the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice for the necessary process of preclearance before they are officially enacted. The DOJ will grant preclearance, trust me. They will do so within 60 days of the submission of the request, as is required of them. Thus ends months of political and legal wrangling over the process of redistricting in Arizona.
In this diary, I will analyze each of Arizona's 9 new districts and also give background on the whole fiasco.
Note: The blog called "The Arizona Eagletarian" was what I was following during the latter parts of the redistricting process (when the drama picked up) whenever I wanted to know more about what was going on. Steve Muratore, the author, went to many of the hearings and was able to speak with some of the members of the redistricting commission.First the background information. The Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) is made up of two Democratic members, two Republican members, and one Independent member who also serves as Chairman. The members for this round were McNulty (D), Herrera (D), Mathis (I), Freeman (R), and Stertz (R). In order to pass or approve anything, the IRC must vote for it with a simple majority. The first hints of discord broke out when the IRC voted back in summer to make Strategic Telemetry its map-drawing consultant and when the IRC declined to make a Jan Brewer loyalist their legal counsel. Stertz brought accusations to Attorney-General Horne (R) that Mathis lined up votes in secret (violating open meetings laws) for Strategic Telemetry (which has had Democratic clients in the past) as well as lying about her political past (her husband was the treasurer for a State House race in 2010). Attorney-General Horne immediately started bombarding the IRC with investigations to such a ludicrous degree, it became a witch hunt. We'll get back to him later.
In early October last year, the IRC approved tentative maps for Congress and the State Legislature. They made more competitive districts that would allow Democrats to win as many as five of Arizona's nine Congressional seats and easily get above 1/3rd of the State Legislature seats. It is no exaggeration to say the AZ GOP freaked out. The Governor called foul, and everyone else followed suit. They thought that because they controlled almost all of state government that they should be entitled to a Republican gerrymander (which is more or less what the maps used in the 00's are). Things really got serious when Brewer issued a letter to the State Senate to remove Chairwoman Mathis from the IRC. The State Senate, then under the leadership of now ex-Senator and Neo-Nazi sympathizer Russell Pearce, complied at the beginning of November. By the way, I'm not succumbing to Godwin's Law when I say that. Russell Pearce has hung out with xenophobic far-right groups such as the Neo-Nazis. He even endorses some of them for office.
Later that fateful November, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled to overturn the removal of Chairwoman Mathis, declaring that the state could not prove or allege that Mathis committed "dereliction of duty or significant malfeasance". Thus, Mathis was restored and the IRC could continue. On December 20th, they voted to approve tentative final maps and had Strategic Telemetry look it over for any potential issues. The IRC re-convened earlier this month for a final round of hearings. They voted 3-2 (both Democrats and Mathis) to approve the final maps for Arizona and send them to the DOJ for preclearance.
As for Attorney-General Horne, he was rebuked by a Maricopa County Superior Court last month. The court declared that only the state constitution's open meetings language was applicable to the IRC, not the statutory language. This ruling effectively slammed the brakes on Horne's witch hunt, giving the IRC a clear field to complete its work.
I went on the IRC's website and found the final maps for the Congressional seats. It was quite hard to trace them over to DRA, but I did a decent approximation. Sadly, deviations of my districts run as high as ~24,000 people in one district. My lowest deviation is ~750 people. However, the stats for my traced districts closely match the stats given by the IRC.
AZ-01 (blue) – Paul Gosar (R-Flagstaff, but will be Prescott)
VAP: 20.5% Native American, 18.4% Hispanic
47.8% Avg Democrat/52.2% Avg GOP
New Numbers: 47.9% Obama/51.0% McCain
Old Numbers: 44% Obama/54% McCain
Predicted PVI change: R+6 => R+3
Former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) is finding this to be her race to lose as Gosar is dumping this district for the open AZ-04. Also running is Democrat Wenona Baldenegro, who was recently endorsed by Rep. Raul Grijalva. AZ-01 drops almost all of conservative Yavapai County, but keeps the gorgeous (and liberal-leaning) town of Sedona.
This district contains Flagstaff, the Navajo and Hopi nations (among numerous others), and rural lands in Gila, Graham, and Greenlee Counties. Democrats have a 9.5% registration lead over Republicans in this district, but that is slightly deceptive as some of those Democrats are conservative "Pinto" Democrats.
AZ-02 (green) – Gabrielle Giffords (D-Tucson)
VAP: 22.0% Hispanic
48.5% Avg D/51.5% Avg R
New Numbers: 49.6% Obama/49.1% McCain
Old Numbers: 46% Obama/52% McCain
Predicted PVI change: R+4 => R+1
This district becomes bluer by losing some Republican suburbs north of Tucson. It is legitimately swingy on paper now.
AZ-03 (dark magenta) – Raul Grijalva (D-Tucson)
VAP: 55.3% Hispanic
57.4% Avg D/42.6% Avg R
New Numbers: 56.4% Obama/42.5% McCain
Old Numbers: 57% Obama/42% McCain
Predicted PVI change: Stays at D+6
This district becomes 5% more Hispanic. However, a lot of that added Hispanic population is lower turnout, so it doesn't improve his district's partisan numbers.
AZ-04 (red) – OPEN
31.6% Avg D/68.4% Avg R
34.4% Obama/64.1% McCain
Predicted PVI: R+16
Paul Gosar is moving to Prescott so he can run here. However, due to fundraising and staff issues, he may fall in the primary. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is a name constantly thrown around when you read about which Republicans are interested in running here and Babeu does seem pretty certain to jump in.
Now, on to the five Maricopa County districts.
AZ-05 (gold) – Jeff Flake (R-Mesa)
34.1% Avg D/65.9% Avg R
New Numbers: 36.2% Obama/62.7% McCain
Old Numbers: 38% Obama/61% McCain
Predicted PVI change: R+15 => R+16
This district changes very little. This is Russell Pearce territory, but fortunately he was recalled from office last November.
AZ-06 (chartreuse) – David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) and Ben Quayle (R-Phoenix)
38.4% Avg D/61.6% Avg R
New Numbers: 41.2% Obama/57.7% McCain
Old Numbers: 47% Obama/52% McCain
Predicted PVI change: R+5 => R+10
Ben Quayle was one of the most craven people during the redistricting snafu. Not only did he oppose the IRC's efforts, he called his mommy to lobby the Governor to remove Mathis. FFS, Ben, you're a full-grown man! Anyway, Ben's district (the old AZ-03) was basically shredded. Most of it went to Schweikert and the rest went to Franks. The only district he has any shot in is AZ-06, but this district, geographically speaking, is mostly Schweikert's turf. It became much more Republican by dropping the Dem-leaning areas (particularly Tempe) bordering Phoenix. Let's just say Ben Quayle is about to go the way of his father and fade into obscurity.
AZ-07 (dark grey) – Ed Pastor (D-Phoenix)
VAP: 58.1% Hispanic
67% Avg D/33% Avg R
New Numbers: 64.7% Obama/34.1% McCain
Old Numbers: 66% Obama/33% McCain
Predicted PVI change: D+13 => D+12
This district becomes more irregular-shaped to cede some Hispanic precincts to Grijalva's district, but it's no issue to Pastor in this urban Phoenix district.
AZ-08 (slate blue) – Trent Franks (R-Glendale)
36.6% Avg D/63.4% Avg R
New Numbers: 38.5% Obama/60.5% McCain
Old Numbers: 38% Obama/ 61% McCain
Predicted PVI change: Stays at R+15
Franks' district compacts entirely into Maricopa County. This is one of the reasons why Quayle's district was shredded.
AZ-09 (cyan) – OPEN
VAP: 22.4% Hispanic
49.5% Avg D/51.5% Avg R
51.3% Obama/47.4% McCain
Predicted PVI: EVEN
This will be the place for a nice little battle royale. This district is largely based in Tempe and took the more Democratic precincts that used to be in Scweikert's district. Many of us here on DKE (and SSP before it) speculated that the IRC would draw a "Lean R" seat for the new 9th district, but we were pleasantly surprised to see that was not the case. So far, the only action is on the Democratic side where a primary looms between ex-State Senate Minority Leader Kyrsten Sinema and Senator David Schapira.
Arizona redistricting was one of the more heartening political events of the past couple months. We saw tyranny assert itself and attempt to force its will on an independent body only to be rebuked. Justice won over tyranny and squashed attempts at intimidation. Now that redistricting is all done, only the AZ GOP come out of it feeling ripped. It serves them right for trying to bully the system to work their way.