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Arizona GOP seeks to retain control of Legislature

Arizona GOP seeks to retain control of LegislatureArizona Republicans are trying to keep control over both chambers of the Legislature in Tuesday’s general election as the state uses districts newly redrawn under criteria that included fostering competition between the two major parties.

For their part, Democrats hope to slim the Republicans’ bulging majorities, particularly in the Senate where the GOP picked up four seats in 2010.

Republicans now hold two-thirds majorities in both chambers — 21-9 in the Senate and 40-19 in the House. The House also has one independent.

With Republican Jan Brewer in the governor’s office, the GOP strength in numbers in the Legislature has allowed the party’s dominant conservatives to easily pass legislation on such controversial topics as abortion restrictions, gun owners’ rights and school vouchers.

A state commission redrew all 30 legislative districts earlier this year after the once-a-decade Census.

While many new districts resemble old versions, others were thoroughly scrambled, effectively presenting the parties and their candidates with a brand-new political landscape.

Overall, Republicans held voter registration leads over Democrats in 17 districts, while Democrats led in 13.

However, the potency of those margins was limited by the fact that independent voters — roughly a third of the state’s overall total — more than cover the party registration margins in nearly all districts.

The districts being used in this year’s elections are the second set drawn under a 2000 voter-approved law that took congressional and legislative redistricting out of the hands of the governor and the Legislature.

The initiative measure created an appointed commission that was to draw new districts by considering population, minorities’ voting rights, competiveness and other specific factors.

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