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New 2012 maps: Matchups to watch

Shifting the political boundaries means some sort of change for every politician looking at running for re-election. Some districts don’t have any incumbents, because they’ve been drawn into their neighbor district. Others districts end up with more incumbents than can be elected.

And so it goes as it does every ten years, when the redistricting process wraps up, leaving matchups and open seats that didn’t exist before.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the most interesting races that can be seen developing.

CD4: Fight over the river
The fight over the heavily Republican 4th Congressional District, dubbed the “River District,” which captures almost all of the Colorado River and western rural parts of the state before wrapping around the Valley to grab northern Pinal County, is a few announcements away from a heated three-way Republican primary showdown. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and Sen. Ron Gould, R- Lake Havasu City, have both formed exploratory committees, and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar is rumored to be planning an announcement that he will move from neighboring CD1, which leans Democratic. If Gosar does decide to run for CD4, he likely will move from liberal Flagstaff to the conservative Prescott area. Gould, one of the most conservative state lawmakers, has already lobbed campaign-tenor jabs at Babeu for being a moderate and a “Johnny-come-lately” on immigration issues, and he taken preliminary shots at Gosar for having to become a “carpetbagger” if he switches districts. Gosar could tout some accomplishments in his first term in Congress, including a land swap deal that has been in the works for more than a decade, but he’s also angered some tea party groups with his votes on fiscal issues. Babeu has shown monstrous fundraising skills and has become a go-to media mouthpiece for hard-line immigration hawks.

CD6: Turf war
U.S. Rep Ben Quayle actually lives in the competitive new 9th Congressional District, but he has carefully and repeatedly said he will run again in the district that most closely resembles the one that elected him, which means the new 6th Congressional District. If he does run in CD6, he will square off against another freshman from the Class of 2010, U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, in a primary battle over a district that captures most of the northwestern part of Maricopa County. It includes major portions of both of the incumbents’ current districts.

CD9: One sided toss-up
The new 9th Congressional District was crafted to be highly competitive, but while Republicans have been cautious about throwing their hats in the ring — in part because of an uncertainty about Quayle’s plans — Democrats have been gearing up for the race. Senate Minority Leader David Schapira launched his exploratory committee before the maps were even final. Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Andrei Cherny has talked about entering the race, and many onlookers are checking their watches, in anticipation of an announcement from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix. Some Republican names that have circulated political circles are Steve Moak, who lost in the 2010 Republican primary against Quayle, Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio and Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman. The district is unlike any that exists now, as it marries portions of four current districts, grouping a diverse range of communities.

LD11 Senate Race
While drawing the legislative map, a late change made to enhance the minority representation in Legislative District 8 resulted in pushing the boundaries of neighboring Legislative District 11 to include both Sen. Al Melvin, R-SaddleBrooke, and Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa. Neither has commented on his plans, though the simplest way to avoid a bloody primary fight in the solidly GOP district would be for one of them to set his sights on one of the two vacant House seats in the district.

LD25 Senate Race
The recently ousted Russell Pearce and Sen. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, often butted heads when they served together in the Senate — and, before that, in the House — particularly on immigration and education issues. In 2010, Pearce even recruited a candidate to challenge Crandall. Those differences will likely be on display during a primary fight in Legislative District 25, as it is widely expected that Pearce will seek a return to the Senate. The district actually consists of more of Crandall’s current district than the district Pearce used to represent. And while Pearce has his devout immigration supporters throughout the Valley and the state, Crandall’s home-field advantage makes this a race to watch.

LD25 House Race
The same Mesa district that pits Crandall against Pearce also puts four work-horse House Republicans together: Reps. Cecil Ash, House Majority Leader Steve Court, Justin Pierce and Justin Olson. Ash has announced he won’t seek re-election and is instead eyeing a justice of the peace post, leaving the other three to fight over two seats. Among the three, Pierce has the least experience running a campaign, as he was appointed in May, when former House Speaker Kirk Adams stepped down to run for Congress. Court, meanwhile, faces the prospect of running in a district that is considerably different than the one he has represented since 2009.

LD26 Senate Race
Sen. Jerry Lewis, R-Mesa, made history when he beat Pearce in a recall election this year, but he and Pearce won’t be squaring off again, as Lewis is now drawn into a Democratic-leaning district that includes parts of Tempe, Mesa and south Scottsdale. Lewis intends to run in the district, which has no other incumbent senator, but Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, said he’s also considering a Senate run.

LD2 House: A heavily Hispanic Democrat-leaning district capturing parts of south Tucson and extending to the Arizona-Mexico border has no incumbent House members.
LD8 Senate: The district that was enhanced for minority protection in Pinal County now only barely excludes Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, so it now has no incumbent senator, leaving a district that could be a comfortable fit for Rebecca Rios, who lost to Smith in 2010.
LD9 Senate: Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, is termed out, leaving a vacuum in a Democrat-leaning district in northwest Tucson. Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is expected to vie for the seat.
LD11 House: The Republican-leaning LD11 in Pinal County has no incumbent House members, meaning two fresh faces could emerge.
LD19 Senate: A heavily Democratic and Hispanic district in southwest Phoenix now has no incumbent senator, which could be a natural invitation to House Reps. Richard Miranda and Anna Tovar, both Democrats from the same district.

— Arizona Capitol Times staff

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