Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson is leading the charge for yet another so called reform measure...folks like Johnson have been "reforming" the political process for the last 30 years or so and every one of the reforms has backfired. Now the pre-reform period is looked upon as a Golden Era of Arizona politics.
Johnson doesn't even attempt to be honest about his "reform" package. Check out this justification.
“Think about all the things that go on today,” Johnson said. “Number one, the districts are so gerrymandered that by the time the primary is over the election is done.
Gerrymandered? That is, of course, complete bunk. The current districts were drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission, using criteria mandated by voters and approved by the Justice Department.
So why aren't more of the districts competitive? Remember the old joke that everyone should line up alphabetically by height? That's funny because height and alphabetical order have no relationship to one another, so you can't form a single line based on both criteria.
For some reason, people who understand that joke, don't seem to see what has happened with redistricting. The districts have to be compact, respect communities of interest and be competitive. Those criteria have no relationship to each other...in fact, they actually conflict.
If you want to respect the communities of interest in Tucson and also make a district that is compact, the district is going to be overwhelmingly Democratic. If you want to respect the communities of interest in Scottsdale and make a district that is compact, the district is going to be overwhelmingly Republican.
So what if competitiveness becomes the primary factor? Then you will link Scottsdale with South Phoenix and the Catalina Foothills with South Tucson, Flagstaff with Kingman and Sun City with Buckeye. The districts will be competitive and bi-polar. They will not be compact and they will not respect communities of interest. In fact, the only way to create competitive districts is to....Gerrymander them. Which is, of course, NOT what we have...no matter how many times Paul Johnson claims otherwise.
Post Script: If Johnson's reform actually passes, it will have the opposite effect of what he intends. It will dramatically strenthen the polical parties and make the legislature much more partisan. I made those points here.