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New political maps set

Can affect political balance of power
Posted at 6:49 PM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 20:49:11-05

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KGUN) — Something happened this week that will affect Arizona politics for the next ten years. The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission just carved up the state into the districts politicians will campaign to represent.

A new census comes out every ten years, so every ten years states adjust the political maps that decide the districts politicians run from.

In Arizona an independent commission draws the maps. It includes two Republicans, two Democrats and an Independent who serves as commission chair.

Commissioners are supposed to use the latest census and voting histories to decide district boundaries with the goals of roughly equal populations, protecting minority rights under the Federal Votings Rights Act, district shape and geography, common political interests and how competitive a district will be between political parties.

Political analysts look at the maps to try to predict who can win in which district.

This year most agree the maps could help Republicans win six of Arizona’s nine seats in the U.S. House. Republicans have four seats now.

In Southern Arizona the district that runs from Central Tucson through Yuma retains most of the qualities that already led to eight years in Congress for Democrat Raul Grijalva.

Democrat Anne Kirkpatrick is retiring from the Congressional District that runs from Tucson through Cochise County. That area has a history of Democrats and Republicans winning by narrow margins. Analysts say the new district lines make it lean slightly more Republican.

Democrat Tom O’Halleran is regarded as vulnerable because the new district he’d run for is more heavily Republican now.

Commissioners unanimously approved the Congressional map but Democrats voted against new legislative maps. They are regarded as likely to continue Republican majorities among state lawmakers.

One of the Democratic Commissioners felt Republican commissioners were determined to get the state legislative maps they wanted.

Shereen Lerner said, “This could have been a great map. This could have been a map that truly showed compromise that truly showed that we were here for the good of the state. I do not feel we ended up with that map.”

But Republican Commissioners say they voted for maps that are good for the state and the individual districts.

The Independent chairing the commission says several state lawmaker seats are not a lock for either party.

Ericka Neuberg said, “There are four genuine toss ups that truly throw the balance of power in our legislature totally up in the air.”

The new boundaries will be in effect in time for next year’s Congressional election.