New political districts will give some of Arizona's leaders major heartburn.Opinion: The Arizona Independent Redistricting Committee has approved draft maps of the state's new congressional and legislative districts, and there is good news and bad news.

New political districts will give some of Arizona's leaders major heartburn.Opinion: The Arizona Independent Redistricting Committee has approved draft maps of the state's new congressional and legislative districts, and there is good news and bad news.

Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission on Oct. 28th, 2021. From left to right. Shereen Lerner, Derrick Watchman, Erika Neuberg, David Mehl, Douglas York. Ray Stern/The Republic

I’m guessing Reps. David Schweikert and Greg Stanton have a raging case of heartburn right about now.

And possibly Reps. Debbie Lesko and Tom O’Halleran, whose normally smooth roads to re-election just developed potential potholes.

Rep. Paul Gosar should worry but then, Gosar has never been overly concerned about actually living in the district he represents.

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Committee on Thursday approved draft maps of the state’s new congressional and legislative districts, and there is good news and bad news.

The bad news: There aren’t nearly enough competitive legislative districts proposed for the coming decade.

The good news: There appear to be more than there are now, and given all that by law must go into drawing districts, that may be about the best we can expect.

State Legislature remains largely uncompetitive

The draft maps would make four of the state’s nine congressional districts competitive, which means neither party dominates by more than 7%.

Two of the four competitive districts would be toss-ups (a spread of 4% or less) where either party could win and the other two split, with one leaning Democratic and one leaning Republican.

Of the remaining five districts, three would be solidly Republican and two Democratic.

Right now, we have one congressional district that’s actually up for grabs by either party.


In the Legislature, six of the 30 districts would be considered competitive, with two of them toss-ups. Of the remaining four competitive districts, two would lean Republican and two Democratic.

Republicans would have 13 safe districts and Democrats would have 11.

Currently, I’d peg the number of truly competitive legislative districts at three, maybe four.

Republicans will likely retain slim control

The Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda, who has been closely watching the commission all year, says the draft maps “would give Republicans more safe districts, but give Democrats a chance to win control at the legislature in the right year.”

That would require Democrats to win every competitive district, including the ones that lean Republican.

I suppose it could happen, right around the time that pigs start circling the Capitol dome and Sen. Wendy Rogers concedes that Joe Biden won the presidential election.


By my count, Republicans are likely to continue their slim control of the Legislature if these maps are approved though lightning could strike, opening up at least a seat at the table for Democrats.

That would be an exceedingly good thing for Arizona, unless you just happen to believe in one-party rule.

Will Schweikert face off against Stanton?

The maps are far from finished. For the next 30 days, public hearings will be held across the state, after which the commission will finalize the districts. So nothing is written as yet with a Sharpie.

But if I was Democrat Greg Stanton, I might be calling the movers. And if I was David Schweikert, I’d be calling party leaders and asking what the heck happened to my safe Republican digs.

The proposed Congressional District 1 takes in Schweikert’s Scottsdale district along with north and central Phoenix, where Stanton lives. It would become the state’s most competitive district, leaning Democratic by just 1.6%. But it also would cover much of Schweikert’s current solidly Republican district.

Stanton could battle it out with Schweikert or he could move to proposed new CD 4, the home of much of his current district. That district would include Ahwatukee, Tempe, west Mesa and slices of Chandler and Gilbert. It’s considered competitive, with a 5.6% Democratic advantage.

Other congressional races could get interesting

In addition to the proposed new north Valley CD 1, the other toss-up district would be CD 6, replacing the southern Arizona district that currently is the state’s only competitive district. It's now represented by Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who is not seeking re-election. This one, comprised of north and east Tucson along with Cochise County and pieces of Pinal, Graham and Greenlee, would favor Democrats by just 1.9%

Lesko’s newly drawn district (CD 8) also would become competitive, leaning Republican by 4.1%.

The maps appear to lump Gosar and O’Halleran into one sweeping rural district, CD 2. It favors Republicans by 7.6%, considered just outside the range of being competitive.

Still, I’d look for Gosar to stick with the western Arizona portion of his district (CD 9). There, Republicans have a comfy 27% advantage. Why work for it on the old home turf when you can glide into office in the neighbor's district?

The draft maps offer smooth sailing to Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego, Raul Grijalva and Republican Rep. Andy Biggs.

The real shock? There was real compromise

And here’s the real shocker. The maps were unanimously approved by the five-member commission. That’s something of a miracle given the knock-down-drag-outs of the past and the inevitable political maneuvering by both parties to get an edge.

Credit to Commission Chairwoman Erika Neuberg, the tie-breaking independent who could easily have sided with Republicans at every turn, given the political groundwork laid over the last few years by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to bring about just such a result.