Brewer’s ‘nuclear option’ in Arizona

Different states take different approaches to post-Census redistricting, but Arizona has an Independent Redistricting Commission, made up of two Democrats, two Republicans, and one registered Independent. The system, was adopted by Arizona voters a decade ago, and was intended to take partisan agendas out of the redistricting process.

The tripartisan panel recently unveiled a draft proposal that would, as a practical matter, create two safe Democratic seats, four safe Republican seats, and create three competitive districts, all the while improving the voting influence of the state’s growing Latino population.

To put it mildly, Arizona Republicans are apoplectic, so much so that Gov. Jan Brewer (R), best known for her anti-immigrant work, may impeach the commission’s members for producing a map she doesn’t like.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has taken the first step today in what had been previously called “the nuclear option” in seeking a more Republican-friendly redistricting map.

The GOP governor began the impeachment process for removing members from the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission by submitting a letter outlining her grievances to commission Chairwoman Colleen Mathis. […]

Arizona Democratic Party Executive Director Luis Heredia described the governor as “drunk with power,” calling the move “a brazen power grab that would rival any in Arizona history.”

It’s worth noting that the governor can only replace the commission’s volunteer members — she intends to impeach all five panelists — with the support of two-thirds of the Arizona state Senate. And wouldn’t you know it, Republicans have a 21-9 majority in the chamber.

Currently, a Republican-dominated Joint Legislative Committee on Redistricting is reviewing the commission’s proposed map, and is expected to, in effect, tell the commission to replace their work with a GOP-friendly version.

If the commission stands by its own work, Republicans apparently intend to pursue impeachment.

Whether this is saber-rattling, intended to pressure commission members, or a sincere effort, is unclear, but if GOP officials impeach the state’s tripartisan commission for doing its job in an even-handed way, it would mark a new low, even by Republican standards.