Redistricting chaos!

| November 2 2011
Christopher Cook

From the Hill:

Arizona Senate ejects redistricting chair, throws map into chaos

Lawmakers in Arizona’s Republican-controlled Senate voted Tuesday night to oust the head of Arizona’s bipartisan redistricting commission, leaving the state’s congressional map uncertain and prompting Democrats to turn to the courts for relief.

The state Senate voted 21-6 to approve Gov. Jan Brewer’s (R-Ariz.) decision to boot Colleen Mathis, who chaired the commission, for what Brewer alleged was “substantial neglect of duty or gross misconduct in office.”

The map clearly was designed to benefit Democrats, and to put powerful Republicans into primary fights with each other. What’s surprising to me is that it took this long for something to be done.

So what happens now?

The unprecedented nature of the move made it impossible to predict where the chips would fall, but it appeared all but certain that the draft map released by the commission in October would be discarded, and work would start again to draft new maps.

Democrats immediately announced they were asking a state court for a temporary restraining order to halt the state Senate’s action. They also vowed to make good on threats made earlier Tuesday to start the recall process against four GOP lawmakers who voted with Brewer.

Republican state Sens. Rich Crandall, Adam Driggs, Michele Reagan and John McComish are all targets for a recall attempt.

“These are the so-called ‘moderates’ in the state who, if they’re going to side with Brewer on this, we’re cutting them loose,” said Andy Barr, a spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party. “We want them to know that there is a price to pay if they’re going to do this.”

Right. And what’s the price to pay for using the mapping firm Strategic Telemetry in a supposedly independent process?:

Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission decided Wednesday to hire Strategic Telemetry, a Washington D.C.-based mapping firm, to serve as the group’s mapping consultant.

Much as it did last month when it chose attorneys, the panel split 3-2 on the decision to hire Strategic Telemetry, a firm that has strong ties to high-profile Democrats, including President Barack Obama. Independent Chair Colleen Mathis sided with the two Democratic commissioners. [ . . .]

The panel’s two Republicans, Scott Freeman and Richard Stertz, joined with Republican observers in questioning the political leanings of Strategic Telemetry, which worked on the 2008 Obama presidential campaign and the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign. Additionally, the firm is currently working on the effort to recall Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

So let’s just repeat that last bit:

 . . . Strategic Telemetry, which worked on the 2008 Obama presidential campaign and the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign. Additionally, the firm is currently working on the effort to recall Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

This is what Prop 106 has brought to Arizona. People thought they were getting a process that had politics taken out of it. All they got was something that could be more easily manipulated.

When it’s a political process, the people have some voice. They elected people to the state legislature and the governorship. That election reflects the will of the people. If the redistricting process were handled as it is in other states—in a political process though elected representatives—that too would reflect the will of the people. Instead, we have this supposedly independent process that reflects only the will of those willing to game the system.

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