A BRAND-NEW PLAYING FIELD
After getting hammered by a coordinated GOP attack following the release of a congressional map (see the story on this page), the Independent Redistricting Commission approved its draft map of the state's 30 legislative districts on Monday, Oct. 10, 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, a Republican, 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 are 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.
There are different ways of measuring competiveness, and the populations of these districts will change over the decade that the map is in place. But if you consider a 7-percentage-point margin between Democrats and Republicans to provide a significant advantage, the map, as currently configured, favors Republicans in 16 districts, and Democrats in nine districts. Five districts fall within a spread of seven points or less.
Herrera said he was pleasantly surprised by how McNulty and Freeman worked together to craft the legislative map.
"It was very nice," Herrera said. "It was actually a little boring, because there was no bickering."
While the map will probably 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 LD 1 includes a bit of eastern Tucson, Green Valley and Sierra Vista, but pushes east to grab a lot more of Cochise County, which is now represented by LD 25 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 LD 25 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 Democratic and 32 percent independent. (For simplicity's sake, we've included minor parties such as the Greens and Libertarians 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 LD 2 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 covers a big part of what is now Legislative District 27 and includes Tucson's westside, downtown, the UA and surrounding neighborhoods. 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 Democratic, 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 Democratic and 32 percent independent.
• Legislative District 9 grabs the Catalina foothills from what's now LD 26 and merges it with central Tucson's LD 28. The result is a competitive district where Democrats have a slight advantage. 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 LD 30, lives in the new LD 10, 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.
MAYORAL TRAIL MIX
In Tucson's mayoral race, Democrat Jonathan Rothschild continues to rack up endorsements and other notes of support.
The biggest one came at a fundraiser for the Arizona Democratic Party in Phoenix last Sunday, Oct. 9, when keynote speaker Mark Kelly—who was making his first big political speech since leaving NASA and the U.S. Navy last week—said that his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was "looking forward" to voting for Rothschild in the Nov. 8 election.
Rothschild was also recently endorsed by the Arizona Multihousing Association, the Tucson Education Association and a wide range of construction and government-labor organizations.
Meanwhile, Republican mayoral candidate Rick Grinnell picked up the endorsement of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce. The chamber also endorsed Republican Tyler Vogt over Democratic City Councilwoman Shirley Scott in Ward 4, but went with Democratic incumbent Paul Cunningham over Republican challenger Jennifer Rawson in Ward 2.
"Those three came to the top as being the most pro-business," said Robert Medler, director of government relations and public policy for the chamber.
The Tucson Association of Realtors endorsed Grinnell and Cunningham.
If you want to see the mayoral candidates in action, Arizona Public Media is presenting the first televised debate between Rothschild, Grinnell and Green Mary DeCamp. The half-hour forum will air on KUAT Channel 6's Arizona Illustrated at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 13.
The mayoral candidates—along with the candidates for Tucson City Council—will meet again for a League of Women Voters forum from 6 to 8:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 17, at Temple Emanu-El, 225 N. Country Club Road.