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Tobin pledges to raise money for redistricting lawsuit

House Speaker Andy Tobin speaks with reporters last session, shortly after being appointed to the leadership position. Tobin, a Paulden Republican, says he is ready to raise money to support a lawsuit, if one is filed, challenging the way the Independent Redistricting Commission drew the state’s new proposed congressional map. He says the IRC neglected the wishes of rural communities. (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

Critics of the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission who are eying a lawsuit have a strong supporter: House Speaker Andy Tobin.

The Republican from Paulden told the Arizona Capitol Times this week that he would throw his support behind any lawsuit against the IRC, whether it’s filed by FAIR Trust or a disgruntled community.

“I’m going to be raising a lot of money to file suit on these maps. You bet. The process has been taken over,” he said.

Tobin’s complaints are with the process, which he argued has neglected the desires of the rural communities in the congressional map.

If the IRC really wanted competitive districts, Tobin said that Democratic-leaning Flagstaff should have been drawn into a district with the more conservative western half of the state, and that conservative San Tan Valley should have been put in the more Democratic eastern half.

Instead, IRC chair Colleen Mathis had been paying all her attention to drawing a competitive district in central Phoenix, he said.

“This is her claim to fame, the central Phoenix corridor. She had to make this a competitive district,” Tobin fumed. “She was so intent on doing it, she couldn’t care less about the rural communities of Arizona.”

The districts in the draft map also represent a disregard for public input, he said, adding that the mayors and county supervisors of all the Verde Valley communities have written the IRC and said that they did not want to be in a district with Flagstaff.

Tobin said he had not started doing any fundraising yet, because he had not been approached by anyone about it. But whether it was filed by the Republican-backed FAIR Trust legal team, communities unhappy about where they ended up, or any other group, he said he intended to help them get the money.

Meanwhile, he added that he was looking at ways that the Legislature might be able to intervene, but he declined to go into specifics about what he was considering.

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