New Map Deep Dive: Arizona

There’s been a LOT happening on the redistricting front. As of January 5, 28 states have passed new state legislative maps.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at the new maps in our priority states and what they mean for our 2022 strategy. First up: Arizona!

Quick History Lesson

In 2000, AZ voters passed Proposition 106, which gave power of redistricting to the AIRC, a commission of two Democrats, two Republicans, and an independent chair. Great news, right?

Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, AZ Republicans have spent many years trying to sway, undermine, or outright eliminate the AIRC.

Case in point: In 2011, when the AIRC drew a map that slightly improved chances for Democrats, GOP Gov. Jan Brewer brazenly fired the chair, a move that was only stopped by a court ruling. Over the next ten years, Republicans fought to declare the AIRC unconstitutional, going all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Drawing the Lines

Meanwhile, other Republicans have been working behind the scenes to ensure the AIRC’s independent chair, the tie-breaker, would favor the GOP.

The eventual pick, Erika Neuberg, seemed on paper to be a true independent. But over the course of the last year, as the AIRC developed the maps, she sided with the Republicans in nearly every dispute. 

In a final 3-2 vote, Neuberg joined the two GOP commissioners to approve a final map with 12 safe blue districts, 13 safe red districts, and five “highly competitive” districts (four of which narrowly lean GOP). Democrats in Arizona and across the country are not happy.

2022 Outlook

Overall, these maps are not ideal – but AZ is still one of our best chances in the country to flip a legislative chamber.

Right now, incumbents are scrambling because some don’t live in their newly-drawn districts. Arizona has multi-member legislative districts, which means each district elects one senator and two representatives – the top two finishers. So the five competitive districts will elect five senators and ten representatives.

The “highly competitive” districts are 2, 4, 9, 13, and 16. The first four are in the Phoenix metro area, while 16 covers the area between Phoenix and Tucson.

And those are just the districts the AIRC says are competitive. Arizona is a fast-growing, fast-changing state, and the political environment could be very different in a few months.