He is trying a new tack: pretending like the last redistricting, back in 2001, was perfectly well ordered, clean and fair. This is a far cry from many on his side who would rather imply that this process is unprecedented and foisted upon an unwilling state, rather than voted on and passed by voters in 1998.
His views of the 2001 process are second hand and a wee bit too rosy. Since he wasn’t in the state at the time, the only concrete thing he can say about that commission is that it was chaired by Steve Lynn. Lynn was ostensibly the independent chair of the committee, but was also had been an ally of Jim Kolbe. I’d like to think that the Democrats weren’t in high dudgeon about this one the way Republicans are about the Colleen Mathis is because we are just better than that, but the fact is, we weren’t organized to go full on crazy over it the way the Republicans are.
(Although, it’s worth pointing out that the ties that Mathis has to Democratic politicians are far more tenuous that Lynn’s ties to Kolbe. Not least because Mathis had also worked for Republicans.)
Still, Lynn didn’t avoid criticism. More than one person noticed that the district 8 that the commission drew seemed to benefit Jim Kolbe: it got rid of Graham County, a place that Kolbe had lost in primaries, even to Joe Sweeney.
Even beyond that, the commission under Lynn’s leadership wasn’t the picture of perfection that Williams paints. I went to just about every meeting in Southern Arizona and I never saw a quorum on the dais until the final meeting. It didn’t bode well for how much that commission valued public comment. At the last meeting, many of us at the meeting asked why there were fewer competitive districts with the new maps, and we were treated to arrogant, dismissive answers.
Williams seems to know little about how the process actually worked last time, but from the one fact he knows we can still see what he and his colleagues think a fair and balanced commission looks like: one led by a nominal independent that carried water for a Republican congressman.