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Arizona's Independent Redistricting Commission is scheduled to resume its work next week, for the first time since the commission's chairwoman was removed from her position.

Last week the Arizona Superior Court overturned Colleen Mathis' removal as chair of the commission. The court said Gov. Jan Brewer's decision earlier this month to remove Mathis, with the Arizona Senate's approval, was inappropriate. The court sided with commission attorneys, who argued Brewer did not have cause to remove Mathis.

Since the ruling, Brewer has said she will consider her other options, which could include attempting again to remove Mathis, after first writing a more detailed justification letter.

In a statement, Mathis said this weekend she looks forward to continuing the commission work.

"I am hopeful that we can complete our mission before Christmas so that there is sufficient opportunity for the Department of Justice to approve the maps in time for state and county officials to complete their duties before the 2012 primary and general elections," Mathis said in the statement.

The commission will resume its work reviewing public comments gathered during a month of meetings on the draft Congressional and Legislative maps. After that, it may make changes to the draft maps, or not, before finalizing and submitting them to the Justice Department for review.

The four partisan members of the commission were not precluded from working while the courts took up the challenge to Mathis' removal. However, the rest of the commission is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, meaning the politically-independent chairperson generally serves as a tie-breaking vote.

Brewer redistricting,


In an audio recording, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made the following statement, her first since Jan. 8, to her fellow Southern Arizonans. The audio is posted on Giffords' Facebook page. Here's what she said:

"Hello, this is Gabby Giffords.

"I miss you. I miss Tucson, the mountains, blue skies, even the heat.

"I'm getting stronger. I'm getting better.

"It has been a hard year - for all of us. Thinking about that day makes me sad. Six people died. Six innocent people. So many people hurt.

"There is lot to say. I will speak better.

"I want to get back to work. Representing Arizona is my honor.

"My staff is there to help you. They keep me informed on your behalf.

"I miss you, I miss home. I will see you real soon.

"Thank you."

Gabrielle Giffords Southern Arizona,


The conservative stronghold that is the Arizona Legislature isn't immediately imperiled by the recall of Russell Pearce.

Given that Republicans still hold a 21-9 edge in the chamber and that Pearce is being replaced by another conservative, Jerry Lewis, the agenda should continue.

It just may continue in a slightly less dogmatic and acerbic way. And there may be a level of pragmatism added to the mix from new Senate President Steve Pierce of Prescott.

Arizona Capitol Times Senate reporter Luige del Puerto tells us that one potential area of change will be in the approach to immigration legislation. Russell Pearce pushed a new wave of anti-immigration bills in the spring, only to have them rebuffed by fellow Republicans, including Steve Pierce.

But del Puerto says if the details of that package of bills changes, even a tweaking, it could come back and be acceptable to the pragmatists.

Their worry about the bills from last spring was that with the Legislature pushing so hard, it was giving Arizona a bad reputation. Fifty big-name business leaders in the state urged the Legislature to back off.

Meanwhile, Democrats who think this is an opportunity for them to make some headway have two hard facts to face:

  • First, the GOP still holds super majorities for another full year AND the governor's seat, plus every other state elected office for another three years.

  • Second, Dems still can't get out the vote. Despite Democrats winning the Tucson mayoral race and all three City Council seats up for grabs, Republicans had an edge of several points over Democrats in turnout. In heavily Democratic Sunnyside School District, voter turnout was 19 percent.

Arizona Democrats Russell Pearce Steve Pierce,


In a closed-door meeting, the majority party in the state Senate chose Sen. Steve Pierce as the new Senate President. Pierce is a rancher from Prescott. His seatmate is House Speaker Andy Tobin. Pierce was elected to the Senate in 2009 and has served as Majority Whip.

Pima County Sen. Frank Antenori was elected to serve as Majority Whip. Sen. Andy Biggs will remain the Senate Majority Leader.


Democrat Richard Carmona is running for U.S. Senate.

He's the second Democrat to enter the race, following Don Bivens.

The former U.S. Surgeon General’s name has been tossed around for months as a potential candidate, as Arizona Democrats search for a candidate to field in the U.S. Senate race next year.

Sen. Jon Kyl is not seeking reelection, leaving the state with a rare open seat.

Democrats have been hesitant to enter the race, with several potential candidates, including Carmona, saying they wanted to wait to see what U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will do. She was rumored to be interested in the Senate race before she was critically wounded in the Jan. 8 shooting.

Several Republicans have announced their candidacy. The most high profile Republican in the race so far is Congressman Jeff Flake, and developer Wil Cardon is also running.

Cardon Carmona Flake US Senate,


Where were you Tuesday?

Yes, you. You know who you are.

You’re one of the more than 100,000 registered Tucson voters who didn’t bother to cast a ballot in the city election. And they made it so easy this time. Pick up your mail, vote, mail your ballot back. You didn’t even need a stamp.

It was maddening to read that some people were excited by the record turnout of 42 percent. That’s less than half of those registered. And when you consider those who don’t even bother to register, we’re down to just one in four citizens of Tucson who took part in our democratic exercise called the election.

As for those of you who haven’t registered, are you that cynical, that jaded about democracy that you can’t muster the energy to sign up and fill in the ovals on a ballot?

One suspects that you think the system is corrupt and you’ve decided to check out. Big money, extremist conservatives and extremist liberals have taken over.

As a result, you’ve turned in your U.S. citizen badge because you think there’s nothing you can do about it. Well, you are doing something about it. In fact, you’re contributing to the corruption of the system.

Your absence from democracy is creating a vacuum that others are filling. They’re filling it with their candidates, their influence, their money and their votes.

You’re on the sidelines complaining. Your surrender is as much a cause of the problems as is the activity of those working to bend the system to the shapes they want.

Winston Churchill once said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

One wonders what Churchill would have thought of you, the non-voter.

Perhaps he would have deferred to Founding Father John Adams who noted: "There never was a democracy that didn’t commit suicide.”

If our democracy commits suicide, you non-voters loaded the gun.

John Adams Tucson election Winston Churchill voter registration,

About Political Buzz

News, commentary, analysis from the AZPM political team: Christopher Conover, Andrea Kelly, Michael Chihak.