Brewer: No special session without “clear path to victory” at the ballot

Luige del Puerto//November 29, 2011

Brewer: No special session without “clear path to victory” at the ballot

Luige del Puerto//November 29, 2011

Gov. Jan Brewer today said she won’t call a special legislative session to either repeal or reform the independent redistricting process, despite calls from some lawmakers that she do so this week.

The governor’s emphatic statement, which was released after she met with House Speaker Andy Tobin and Senate President Steve Pierce, means the chances of lawmakers convening by tomorrow to meet a deadline for placing items on the Feb. 28 ballot have all but evaporated.

Calling it disappointing, Senate leaders called on Brewer to reconsider her decision late this afternoon.

They reiterated the allegations they made against Independent Redistricting Commission Chairwoman Colleen Mathis earlier this month when they supported the governor’s effort to remove her, and argued that Arizona voters deserve the opportunity to revisit the idea of having an independent commission draw the state’s political maps.

“The flaws of having one unaccountable and unelected person making such vital decisions for the state have been exposed,” said the joint statement by Senate President-elect Steve Pierce, Majority Leader Andy Biggs and Majority Whip Frank Antenori

They also said Senate and House leaders have assured the governor as recently as this morning that there’s sufficient support to pass a referral to repeal Prop. 106 or reform the mapping process.

The governor said she’s aware that she and lawmakers face a narrow window to pass a referral in time for the presidential preference election in February.

She also has some heartburn over the current redistricting process, she said.

“I know that some legislators, especially those of my political family, are anxious for me to call a special session so that they may pursue a ballot proposal to repeal or reform Prop 106. But we cannot act in haste – or in anger – when it comes to something as critical as the way in which Arizona draws its congressional and legislative districts,” the governor said in a written statement.

“Our action must be reasoned and rational, and there must be a defined path to victory with voters. I will not call a Special Session on this topic unless and until I believe those bars have been met,” she added.

Brewer met with Pierce and Tobin this morning, at which time it became apparent there was no consensus among lawmakers about how to move forward, said Matthew Benson, the governor’s spokesman.

Uncertainty on the part of legislative leaders “has been part of the issue, because they’re still talking sometimes about reform (and) sometimes about repeal,” he said, adding that the Senate favored repeal and the House was pushing for reforms.

Although Brewer has concerns about the way redistricting is conducted in Arizona and the process this year that led to her and the Senate removing a commissioner, only to have the Supreme Court reinstate her, Benson said the governor wasn’t willing to embark on “a fool’s errand.”

“She doesn’t want to pursue a $5 million election on this unless the Legislature reaches consensus on what path it wants to pursue and unless it’s clear that this path can be victorious with voters,” Benson said.

In her news release, Brewer said the most difficult part of being a leader is to tell people what they don’t want to hear.

“This is one of those moments,” she said as she spelled out her reasons for refusing to call a special session.