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We’ve got a cheat sheet for the new districts ... Let’s audit Doug Logan’s finances … And is Arizona part of Mexico now?
Welcome to 2022. Thanks for bearing with us while we took some time off for the holidays. The biggest Arizona political story buried by the festivities was Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission approval of new maps that will rule the state’s political fate for the next decade, so let’s jump into what we missed.
Arizona’s new congressional map — which Republicans and Democrats agree could cost Dems two seats in Congress this year — received unanimous approval from the Independent Redistricting Commission a few days before Christmas.
Four of the new congressional districts lean toward Republicans and three toward Democrats, but even the two “highly competitive” districts favor Republicans slightly.
But the bipartisan kumbaya ended on the legislative maps, as chair Erika Neuberg sided with Republicans1 in a contentious vote approving a map that offers 13 safe Republican districts and 12 safe Democratic districts, with another five deemed “competitive.”
If, like us, you’re a visual learner, here’s your emoji breakdown2 of Arizona’s congressional and legislative districts.
The new maps don’t appear to be shaking Arizona’s nine members of Congress3, all of whom (aside from Ann Kirkpatrick, who had already announced she wouldn’t run again) have said they’ll seek re-election to their respective district (or whatever district favors them the most).
But the new legislative map has scrambled the state’s 90 lawmakers, pitting incumbents against incumbents or drawing them into unfavorable districts.
The Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda has the definitive piece on who’s getting screwed by redistricting, but for now, let’s just say we’re really excited for the conspiracy showdown that the Kelly Townsend-Wendy Rogers matchup will provide.
Of course, there’s still the possibility of lawsuits from Democrats with sour grapes, or U.S. Department of Justice intervention, as we saw in Texas.
But it’s worth noting that much of Dems’ doom and gloom analysis of Arizona’s maps are based on the fact that 2022 is expected to be a banner year for Republicans anyway, and general population trends favor Democrats in the long term.
For those of you still learning the new district numbers, stats and their rough equivalent under the old maps, we’ve compiled a handy cheat sheet that we’ll send out to your inboxes soon. For the sake of brevity, we stuck to the congressional districts and the five competitive legislative districts, but even that was too much for the morning email. So we’ll send it out this afternoon so you have it handy whenever you need to brush up.
On the audit front: The Cyber Ninjas’ lawyers want to quit because the Ninjas haven’t paid the legal bill, and the Senate refuses to pay out $100,000 it owes the Ninjas until the “audit is complete,” whatever that means. Doug Logan is broke or at least claiming to be broke, but it sure looks like this whole stiff-the-lawyers game is just a stall tactic to not release public records.
On the COVID-19 front: Meanwhile, Arizona is seeing some of the highest COVID-19 positive test rates ever, but don’t expect Gov. Doug Ducey to do another virtual State of the State address. He’s pressing palms this year with the 90 lawmakers and their guests.
On the superspreading front: And if COVID-19 is spiking, you know that means it’s time for more Donald Trump rallies. The former president will visit Florence for his first rally of the new year on Saturday, Jan. 15. The son of Martin Luther King Jr. will visit Arizona the same day for a rally to protect voting rights.
That’s a baker’s dozen, for those still keeping score: For several blissful days, there were no legislative vacancies. Then Democratic Sen. Jamecita Peshlakai realized the job sucks and the pay is worse (especially for the working poor on her Navajo Nation-based Legislative District 7, which has seen high legislative turnover because of the pay, hours and distance). So she quit. Coconino County supervisors hope to pick her replacement before the legislative session commences next week.
Isn’t there a better way?: Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Mark Brnovich are in a pissing match over approval of the Elections Procedure Manual after she filed an ethics complaint against him. The EPM is nicknamed the “elections bible” because it lays out all the nitty gritty rules of election procedure not outlined in law. Basically, the Secretary of State has to write it in consultation with local election officials, and state law says the AG and governor “shall” approve it. It’s not a system that functions well these days.4
Speaking of ethics investigations: The State Bar is investigating an ethics complaint the Arizona Board of Regents filed against Brnovich because he’s suing them and they’re technically his clients.
Focusing on issues voters really care about: U.S. Senate Republican candidate Blake Masters sold some NFTs to help pay for the part of his campaign that isn’t being underwritten by his Silicon Valley overlord Peter Thiel. They sold for a $5,800 maximum contribution to his campaign, and he raised $575,000 in 36 hours. Team Masters boasted: “He can raise more in two days than his primary opponent Attorney General Mark Brnovich raises in two months.” Yes, but can Masters get on Fox News by filing a frivolous lawsuit?
Could have gone worse: An autonomous semi truck completed the first ever trip without a human on board, cruising 80 miles through the Arizona desert (thanks, Ducey!), and it didn’t end with the truck careening into oncoming traffic while responding to texts.
If you like Ducey’s budgets, you’re gonna love him: Matt Gress, the governor’s budget director, is running for the state House in Legislative District 4. Wanna know how fiscally conservative he is? Well, we first met him at a Great Clips and we’ve seen him quibble over the price of tostadas (and get a discount!).
Arizona Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers wants to turn Arizona into Mexico —at least as far as responsibility for paying for a border wall goes. After sneaking in a failed strike-everything amendment last year to spend $300 million of state funds to build a border wall, she’s upping the ante this year with her SB 1032, which would spend a cool $700 million from the state General Fund to build a border wall. That’s 5% of the entire state budget. (Estimated cost: between $9 million and $30 million per mile, so we’re talking 70 miles of wall max.)
Anyway, we can’t complain she didn’t warn us.
We’ve been off for nearly three weeks — and that’s three weeks’ worth of weird stuff that former newswoman turned GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Kari Lake has said. So here we go…
Lake joined a crew of election deniers outside Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office to “put the nunchucks down and pick up the handcuffs and arrest people” for election fraud. She didn’t say who, exactly, should be arrested or for what crimes.
After weeks of derision from her fellow Republicans for her bad idea of putting cameras in every classroom, Lake suddenly pivoted to declaring it was “just a suggestion” and it was actually Ducey’s idea because he allowed Zoom classrooms amid a worldwide pandemic.
Finally, Lake declared that the late Sen. John McCain was among the “losers” Arizona had sent to D.C. and said any “McCain Republicans” should “get the hell out” of her event. The struggling Matt Salmon team dug up some of her old fawning tweets over the senator.
Early on, Neuberg said her definition of success for the commission was to avoid the “chronic” 3-2 votes that plagued past commissions, so she was partially successful.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this image misidentified one Republican leaning district, LD13, as Democratic leaning.