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Putsching too Hard

Jan Brewer put out word yesterday that she will soon announce what she will do about last week’s supreme court decision striking down her attempted removal of Colleen Mathis. This morning Paul Davenport reported that Brewer wants a more detailed explanation of the court’s decision. I say, let them give her one as soon as she can articulate her own reasons for the ouster.

So, I guess this announcement will be scheduled for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (a brilliant media strategy). Odds are vanishingly small that her response will be “I believe in the constitutional rule of law and respect the court’s decision.”

There are a couple of “damn the torpedoes” scenarios involving a second attempt to remove Mathis, or even the other two Democratic members. Re-firing Mathis wouldn’t be totally unprecedented for the legislature: there were times Janet Napolitano would veto bills from the lege, only to see the identical bill passed again. The real comedy was that legislators would actually be shocked that she would veto the same bill a second time.

The more likely scenario, although not lacking hubris, is this ballot referral proposal. This was first put forward by Frank Antenori before the vote to oust Mathis. The Antenori plan is simple: refer the constitutional amendment that created the IRC to the ballot. Oh, and by the way, refer it to the ballot during the Republicans-only presidential primary at the end of February.

Yep, if there is anything that will keep this from looking like it’s a partisan exercise, it’s scheduling it for the one day when you are guaranteed no Democrat or independent has a reason to vote.

I’ve talked to a couple of legislators about this, and they think it will happen (it’s gotta happen soon because of the 90 day requirement for referenda). For one, they have already alienated everyone they are going to alienate on this issue, so what do they have to lose? Also, they are pretty set on this course; it’s a locomotive (emphasis on the “loco”) that can’t change direction once it’s on a track. They have neither the incentive or desire to stop now.

There are a few problems, of course.

One is cost. The primary will already cost $3.4 million. Printing up more ballots and opening it up for more voters will cost an additional $5 million. It leaves me to wonder how many organ transplants that would pay for.

And here is a big one: here is a major change in our election laws purposely scheduled for an election that will have minimal minority turnout. Several observers I talked to are sure that the DOJ would get involved for this reason, and possibly enjoin the state from going through with it.

Okay, let’s say we have this election. Who is to say even Republican voters, once you get outside of hard core activists, are that thrilled about ditching the IRC? Polling numbers quoted in the Yellow Sheet say no, but with the proviso that there hasn’t been a pro-repeal campaign yet. Well, if their messaging around the Mathis putsch is any indication, their persuasive powers on this issue are a bit lacking. To recap: from Andy Biggs “L’etat c’est moi” and from la Cervecera, well, I’m not really sure. Not the sort of rhetoric that will move hundreds of thousands of voters.

Okay, let’s suppose for a second that this gambit works and 106 is ditched. The IRC will be long done with their work by then. Do legislators, most of whom will be running either for legislature or congress and would like a vague idea where the lines are, really want to spend the entire month of March re-starting this silliness?

Another poorly thought out plan from the legislature. Any surprise there?

4 Comments

  1. Matt wrote:

    Although you didn’t say this, I think it should be clear that (legally) it shouldn’t matter if the IRC has already adopted the proposed maps by the time Prop 106 is repealed. The state may redistrict anytime it wants (see Texas).

    We will definitely have our work cut out for us if they schedule the special election for the same day as the GOP presidential preference. Especially if they paint the IRC as a partisan issue. If we get serious about it though, and raise the money and run a competent ‘No’ campaign, prop 106 might survive.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink
  2. Matt wrote:

    Obviously, the gamble on their side is that it causes an uproar and they get backlash from independents in 2012. They may also lose the vote as well. So, I imagine, that’s the decision they’re weighing right now.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink
  3. Ken Clark wrote:

    I welcome a ballot measure. I’ll run the “No” campaign in a heartbeat.

    The IRC was not created to “take the politics out of redistricting”. It was created to make it more transparent.

    They want to eliminate that transparency. I’d love to talk about that!

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 8:46 am | Permalink
  4. Eli_Blake wrote:

    Their assumption that only Republicans will vote is also questionable.

    For one thing, there is a decent chance that one candidate (Romney) will run Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida, in which case the GOP primary will be anticlimactict. Second, remember the sales tax referenda a couple of years ago. Plenty of Democrats and Independents showed up to vote for that, so it’s not a given they will stay home.

    Though on the flip side, expect the Republicans to use the draft maps to scare people, especially people living in communities that are split by the maps. However, in other cases (the ‘Colorado River district’ or Flagstaff) the draft maps could be used as an incentive to vote ‘no.’

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink