by Jim Nintzel
After a week of getting hammered by a coordinated GOP attack following the release of a congressional map, the Independent Redistricting Commission approved its draft map of the state’s 30 legislative districts this afternoon in Tucson.
“We have a draft legislative map,” said IRC chairwoman Colleen Mathis. “And there is no question that we’ll be entertaining a lot of comments over the next 30 days on this.”
The vote was 4-1 in favor of the map, which was drawn up by IRC members Linda McNulty, a Democrat, and Scott Freeman, a Republican.
Only IRC member Rick Stertz voted against the map, saying he was unhappy with the southern Arizona districts.
“There’s a lot of this map I truly like, a lot,” Stertz said. “There’s parts that I have significant issues (with) …. I’m not exactly sure what’s in this map yet.”
While he voted in favor of moving the draft map to the public-comment stage, Democrat Jose Herrera said he wanted to see more competitive districts in the final map. Right now, if you consider 8 percentage points or higher a significant advantage, the map gives a strong advantage to Republicans in 16 districts, strong advantages to Democrats in nine districts, and has five districts that close enough to be up for grabs in a normal election year.
Herrera said he was pleasantly surprised by how McNulty and Freeman worked together to craft the legislative map.
“It was very nice,” Herrrera said. “It was actually a little boring because there was no bickering.”
While the map may well end up tweaked from where it is today, here’s what’s proposed for Southern Arizona:
• Legislative District 1 covers a big chunk of what’s now Legislative District 30, which is represented by the GOP delegation of Sen. Frank Antenori and state Reps. Ted Vogt and David Gowan. The new LD1 includes a bit of eastern Tucson, Green Valley and Sierra Vista, but now pushes east to grab a lot more of Cochise County, which is now represented by LD25 and the GOP trio of Sen. Gail Griffin and Reps. David Stevens and Peggy Judd. Antenori may be out of the picture if he decides to run for Congress, but the new configuration sets up Gowan to run against the LD25 bunch in his future campaigns. Vogt has been drawn into a new—and competitive—central Tucson District 10; more on that below. The voter breakdown: 42 percent Republican, 26 percent Democrat and 32 percent independent. (For simplicity’s sake, we’ve included minor parties such as the Greens and Libertarians as in the “independent” category.)
• Legislative District 2 covers a lot of the current Legislative District 29, which is now a heavily Hispanic district that is represented by the non-Hispanic trio of Sen. Linda Lopez and Reps. Daniel Patterson and Matt Heinz. It still includes South Tucson and Tucson’s southeast side, as well as the homes of both Patterson and Heinz. But the district now stretches down the Santa Cruz River to Nogales and snakes along the border, pulling in cities like Bisbee and Douglas. The new LD2 is a minority-majority district, a key requirement of the federal Voting Rights Act; voting-age Hispanics make up 61 percent of the population. The voter breakdown: 46 percent Democratic, 21 percent Republican and 33 percent independent.
• Legislative District 3 is another minority-majority district, where voting-age Hispanics make up 51 percent of the voters. It includes Tucson’s west side and covers a big part of what is now Legislative District 27. The voter breakdown: Nearly 50 percent Democratic, 18 percent Republican and 32 percent Democratic.
• Legislative District 4 is a third minority-majority district that stretches along more than half of Arizona’s southern border. Voting-age Hispanics make up nearly 54 percent of the voters. The new district includes Three Points, the Tohono O'odham Nation and Hispanic neighborhoods in Yuma. Voter breakdown: 39 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican and 35 percent independent.
• Legislative District 8 includes a lot of the current Legislative District 26, including Oro Valley and Saddlebrooke, where state Sen. Al Melvin resides. From there, it stretches north into Pinal County. Voter breakdown: 36 percent Republican, 32 percent Democrat and 32 percent independent.
• Legislative District 9 grabs the Catalina Foothills from what’s now LD26 and merges it with central Tucson’s LD28. The result is a competitive district that’s we think is home to LD26 Rep. Terri Proud (although we’re still trying to confirm that). Voter breakdown: 37 percent Democratic, 33 percent Republican, 30 percent independent.
• Legislative District 10 includes the central part of Tucson south of Helen Street, which is the dividing line rather than Speedway. (We’re sure that has nothing to do with the fact that state Rep. Steve Farley lives on the south side of Helen Street, putting him in this district.) State Rep. Ted Vogt, who now represents the safely Republican LD30, lives in the new LD10, which is Tucson’s second competitive district. The voter breakdown: 37 percent Democratic, 33 percent Republican and 30 percent independent.
• Legislative District 11 takes in most of Marana and travels north into Pinal County—which, given the way that Marana has been feuding with Pima County, is step toward a developing community of interest. This has an interesting voter breakdown, in that the majority of voters aren’t with either major party: 36 percent Independent, 33 percent Republican and 32 percent Democratic.
You can check out the map yourself here. (And let us say that we agree with activist Jim March, who suggested today that the IRC staff do a better job of providing a legend for the maps they've posted and a few better maps that don't require advanced computer knowledge to get a close look at precise boundaries.)
If you’ve got any insight into what happens with other incumbents, feel free to let us know via the comment section.