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GOP redistricting complaints based on politicians’ self-interest

After the latest round of attacks and counter attacks by Republican and Democrat party leaders over the alleged unfairness of the draft congressional district map proposed by the Independent Redistricting Commission, I went back to read the actual requirements for redistricting in the Arizona Constitution.

Guess what? The Constitution does not give any political party the right to have any representation in the redistricting process or the resulting maps. Political parties aren’t even mentioned in the criteria that the commission is legally required to use in its analysis.

Then I looked at Arizona voter statistics to see if they explain the current vitriol. They don’t. Arizona voter registration shows that the state is roughly a third Republican, a third Democrat and a third independent or other. So even if you were trying to fairly represent political parties, the state’s nine congressional districts should be divided three Republican, three Democrat and three independent. Better yet, if political party representation was the goal, all districts would have roughly equal voter party registration so that any candidate — from a major party or from no party — has a fair shot at winning.

The proposed redistricting map now under attack has four “safe” Republican districts, two “safe” Democrat districts, and three districts that are arguably competitive. But it’s the Republicans who are claiming the map unfairly favors Democrats. What gives?

The real reason behind this latest partisan fight has nothing to do with fairly representing voters, and everything to do with the self-interest of partisan political incumbents and potential candidates. Having grown accustomed to safe districts where they are elected and re-elected by a small and often extreme voter base from their own party, they do not now want to have to convince a much larger and more diverse group of voters of their qualifications to govern.

Some incumbents are threatening to move to other districts rather than represent the concerns of a broader segment of voters. Equally important, they do not want to run against each other in the safe districts where they plan to relocate. When are these partisan political “leaders” going to stop shouting so that the voices of average Arizonans can be heard? When are the people of Arizona going to demand that partisan party leaders stay out of the process long enough for the Independent Redistricting Commission to produce redistricting maps that fairly represent the people of the state and not the political self-interest of either party or its candidates?

— Lucia Fakonas Howard is a Phoenix attorney.

2 comments

  1. The uproar is that the Napolitano Commission set up 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats and one Independent to break the vote. The fake “Independent” donated to Obama and the AZ State Dem chair then proceeds to get a cushy job distributing Obama Stimulus dollars to Tucson- (UofA:”Study of ant colonies” or how about” Why Chines Prostitutes Drink”).

    Mathis , the so-called Independent, then proceeds to line up Pres Obama’s campaign mapper BEFORE the commission begins-called Vote Trading and Bid Rigging (a big no-no). Strategic Telemetry had no prior mapping experience. twice the cost, and taxpayers had to pay for 3 additional contractors to assist ST since they had no idea what they were doing. Why Mathis and ST? ST’s main clients other than Obama are MoveON.org, state dem/progressive parties, Wisconsin Recall, SEIU, AFL-CIO and other mob-controlled unions.

    The State filed a lawsuit against Mathis and the other 2 Democrats-Herrera and McNulty. Mathis refused the GOP to have their own lawyer so now the Porgressives have 2. Then they brought in 2 criminal lawyers to defend them so 4 lawyers paid by taxpayers. Just answer the darn questions!

    Even left leaning media such as AZ Republic, Wash Post, and Daily Kros gleefully said that the AZ Republicans got “screwed”. So Lucia Fakonas must be a trial lawyer because 97% vote for Democrats so that the USA loses its glory in history destroyed by one lawsuit after another.

    The 3 Democrats are creating more Ghetto disticts that totally disenfranchise anyone of non Latino extraction completely. In their zeal to ‘protect’ the rights of one ethnic group(won’t happen if they voted GOP), they tramp all over those same rights of other Americans. This perpetuates the segregation of our society which is not the intention of the Voter’s Rights Act.

    Additionally what three of the Commissioners fail to understand is that there are 360,000 more Republicans in Arizona than the minority party. They use the division of 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 when it is 36% Republican, 34% Independents and only 30% Democrats. By packing a large segment of the Democrats into these Minority/Majority districts, there is no way to create additional Democrat districts without sever Gerrymandering. There is something very wrong with this picture. Fully 90% of the time is spent on these Minority/Majority districts to the detriment of the rest of Americans.

  2. The IRC did not create three competitive districts. It created two. It increased the Democrat registration edge in the eastern rural district to 9.5% from under 4%. That is not competitive. Chairwoman Mathis defined competitive as a district in which neither major party had a significant advantage over the other party. A 9.5% edge is a significant edge, it transformed the eastern district from competitive to Democrat, and there is no pretending otherwise.

    What makes all this worse, had the IRC drawn two wholly rural districts — one west and one east — both outside metro Pheonix and metro Tucson, it also would have created a genuinely competitve district in eastern Arizona. It chose not to do so, and instead drew a blob of a western district that runs from the Colorado River, through metro Phoenix, into Pinal County, joining Pinal’s San Tan Valley and Florence with Bullhead City, Parker, and Lake Havasu City — at the cost of a competitve district. That is an indefensible result, either from a competiveness perspective or from a communities of interest perspective. It can be regarded as nothing but a failure, made worse because it was entirely unnecessary.

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