Tribes may get less voice in new congressional district

Members of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met Oct. 4, 2021, in the Phoenix city council chambers to discuss initial changes to the grid maps approved the previous month. L to R: Shereen Lerner, Derrick Watchman, Erika Neuberg, David Mehl, Douglas York. /Photo by Jeremy Duda / Arizona Mirror

By Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror

Navajo and other Native American voters could find they have less say in who represents them in Arizona’s sprawling, northernmost congressional district, which has traditionally been among the most competitive in the state.

As the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission spent its second day adjusting the lines on preliminary maps, several commissioners raised the possibility that the proposed 2nd Congressional District might lean more Republican than does the current 1st District, which covers much of the same territory. If the district becomes less competitive, that could have major implications for the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe.

The 1st Congressional District, as it’s currently drawn, has been highly competitive over the past decade. Though no Republican has won the district’s congressional seat during the past 10 years, the races there are usually competitive. And Republican candidates have won the district in two of the past three presidential races. The predecessor district that existed from 2002-2010 was also highly competitive, electing a Republican in four of five election years.

However, the need to create congressional districts with almost identical populations, and the abundance of Republican voters in adjoining areas, may make it difficult to recreate the current district’s political makeup. The issue arose as the commission considered the first round of changes its consultants made to its proposed grid map based on input from Monday’s meeting. 

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