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Legislative map unveils tough primary matchups

Southern Arizona Republicans may have a free-for-all in the 2012 primary after the Independent Redistricting Commission’s new legislative map packed six incumbents into the same district.

District 1, which includes most of Cochise County, as well as parts of Graham and Pima counties, would force two Republican senators and four Republican House members into primaries against each other.

Sens. Frank Antenori and Gail Griffin would square off for the district’s Senate seat, while the two House seats would be up for grabs between Reps. Brenda Barton, David Gowan, Peggy Judd and David Stevens.

“That’s a mess, isn’t it?” said Judd, R-Willcox.

Stevens, R-Sierra Vista, said he hadn’t figured out what his plans would be. He hoped the legal challenges being threatened by many Republicans would alter the map and break up the six incumbents.

Like other Cochise County Republicans, Stevens was concerned with how the commission took a portion of the county that snakes along the U.S.-Mexico border and attached it to a neighboring district comprised of southern Tucson and Santa Cruz County.

“This is going to court,” he said.

Antenori, R-Tucson, shared Stevens’ sentiment that the map wouldn’t last. He said it would change, either through by the commission’s own hands after a 30-day round of public hearings or through a lawsuit, and said he wasn’t jumping to any conclusion about the district or about anyone’s political future.

“I’m not going to get too overworked until the final maps are done,” he said. “I’m not getting myself too excited right now. I’ll wait to see what happens.”

But even if the map stays as-is, Antenori said he’d figure it out. He said he might just run for another office, such as Corporation Commission or a local office. He’s also opened an exploratory committee for Congress, though he said he’s starting to lean against it due to the political makeup of his new district.

Judd said she’d be willing to step aside in favor of Gowan and Stevens, who have more seniority and are from Sierra Vista, the district’s largest city.

“I haven’t decided to run again yet,” she said. “If I need to, I can back down and concede to some of my senior people.”

Judd said she was more concerned about Barton, R-Safford, who is now separated from many of the Gila County communities she currently represents.

District 1 isn’t the only new legislative district that packs in six incumbents.
District 25, which is based in Mesa, would pit Sen. Rich Crandall and Senate President Russell Pearce against each other in the primary, and would create four-way House primary between Republican Reps. Cecil Ash, Steve Court, Justin Olson and Justin Pierce.

Other interesting matchups in the new map include:

District 15, in the north Valley, where Republican Sens. Nancy Barto and Lori Klein both reside.

West Valley-based District 19, where Republican Rep. Steve Montenegro would have to fight two Democratic incumbents, Reps. Richard Miranda and Anna Tovar, in a heavily Democratic district.

District 29, another heavily Democratic West Valley district, where termed-out Republican Rep. Jerry Weiers would have to face Democratic Sen. Steve Gallardo if he decides to run for the higher chamber. Though he’s termed out, Weiers has campaign committee open for 2012.

Central Phoenix-based District 24, which has three Democratic House incumbents – Rep. Chad Campbell, the House minority leader, and Reps. Lela Alston and Katie Hobbs. But Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is contemplating a run for Congress, which would open up her seat and likely avoid a three-way primary between the incumbents.

East Valley-based District 12, which includes three Republican House incumbents – Reps. Eddie Farnsworth, Tom Forese and Steve Urie.

District 28, which covers Paradise Valley, Phoenix’s Biltmore and Arcadia neighborhoods, and part of north Phoenix, doesn’t force any primary battles. But it lumped two Republican incumbents – Reps. Kate Brophy McGee and Amanda Reeve – with Democratic incumbent Eric Meyer.

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