2020 Redistricting? The Arizona GOP Is ON IT

Quayle, a Republican, lost re-election last year when he faced another GOP member in a redrawn district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It's never too early to start planning for redistricting, right?

On Monday, Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham announced he has formed a new committee of GOP election experts to monitor the state's independent redistricting process — in 2020.

Local Republicans remain angry after the party got shellacked in the most recent congressional redraw ahead of the 2012 cycle. The next time the decennial redistricting process come around — eight years from now, after the 2020 cycle — the GOP does not want to be caught flat-footed again. "The 2010 redistricting results left Arizona voters with a destructive redrawing of our communities and did a terrible injustice to our elected representatives and the constituents they serve," Graham said in a news release. "We are going to be fully prepared to look out for the interests of our voters, and I am excited that these fine people have agreed to serve and ensure that the next process is conducted with fairness and transparency."

In 2011, the Grand Canyon State's delegation had five Republicans to three Democrats, and the party held a super majority in both branches of the  Legislature. An appointed commission of five members — two Republicans, two Democrats and one registered independent — determined this decade's map.

But Republicans howled when the commission drew a map that created four safe Republican seats, two safe Democratic seats and three competitive seats.

The redraw pitted Rep. David Schweikert against a fellow Republican, former Rep. Ben Quayle, in one of the 2012 cycle's most brutal member-vs.-member races. Democrats carried all three competitive seats and took control of the state's delegation to the House.

After the map's release, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer accused the designated independent, Colleen Mathis, of "neglect of duty and gross misconduct" (Mathis' attorney denied this charge). The state Legislature eventually impeached Mathis, but the state Supreme Court overruled the maneuver.

This cycle, Republicans are quietly searching for a registered Independent who can get appointed to the committee to help the GOP in the next round of mapmaking after 2020.

"The key to Arizona redistricting is that you need to find an independent who is on your side," said an Arizona Republican consultant, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly.

The local GOP's new committee includes Republicans from every House district in the state, and attorney Mike Liburdi will serve as chairman.