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IRC pondering legislative changes

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is considering a handful of changes to its legislative map, including proposals that would add another competitive district.

The commission on Monday discussed a proposal to make Legislative District 8, which covers parts of Pinal and northern Pima counties, more competitive by moving its heavily Republican areas into neighboring LD11.

The change was proposed by Democratic Commissioner Linda McNulty, who did not attend the meeting due to a family illness.

McNulty also proposed a swap that would move Show Low into LD7, a northern Arizona-based district comprised mostly of Native American tribes, while moving the Winslow area out into LD6.

And the commission continued to discuss a proposal that would shift the western part of Cochise County into rural LD1 while moving Green Valley into Tucson-based LD2.

(Click on the proposed changes below to see how they would affect the districts)

The proposal to redraw the legislative lines in Pima and Pinal counties would move LD8 from the solidly Republican camp to slightly GOP leaning, under the performance-based indices the IRC uses to gauge competitiveness. McNulty’s proposal would move the dividing line between LD 8 and LD11 west, splitting Casa Grande, and redraw Catalina, Oro Valley and SaddleBrooke into LD11, which would make the district far more conservative.

Democratic Commissioner José Herrera praised the idea.

“I think we need to create more competitive districts than the ones that are proposed,” he said.

The competitiveness of the two districts, however, looks different when measured solely against voter registration numbers. Under the draft map, Republicans had just a 1.6 percent advantage in LD11. But McNulty’s changes would give the GOP a 16.6 percent edge. In LD8, a 6.2 percent Republican edge would turn into a 13-point Democratic advantage.

The change would also pit two incumbent Republican senators, Al Melvin of SaddleBrooke and Steve Smith of Maricopa, against each other. Under the current draft map, Melvin and Smith are in separate districts.

(Click on the proposed changes below to see how they would affect the districts)

The Show Low-Winslow swap, which would also move the northwestern corner of the state into Mohave County-based LD 5, would slightly increase the number of Native American voters in LD 7, which would likely bolster the IRC’s chances of getting U.S. Department of Justice approval. But Leonard Gorman, executive director of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, said the tribe opposed the Winslow move because so many Navajo live in the area.

Navajo opposition could put an end to the proposal, given the IRC’s focus on improving the Voting Rights Act-protected districts in both the congressional and legislative maps. The Hispanic Coalition for Good Government is urging changes to the majority-minority congressional districts the IRC drew that would increase Hispanic representation in congressional LD8 and LD11.

Another pair of proposals would add a fire-ravaged area north of Flagstaff to LD6. Many people in and around Flagstaff have urged the IRC to add the Schultz Fire area to their legislative district to help with flood management in the area.

And the IRC examined a proposed map that would restructure many of the districts in Maricopa County. The map, submitted by a group headed by former Sen. Sue Gerard, would redraw a half-dozen legislative districts in the north and northwest Valley.

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