Aug 29, 2023 - Politics

Pastor influenced the drawing of the congressional district where she's no longer running

A green shaded area over a map of Phoenix Arizona with other areas shaded in different colors.

Image from the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

When Phoenix City Council member Laura Pastor recently suspended her campaign for Arizona's 3rd Congressional District over health concerns, she walked away from a district that she helped craft to the consternation of many of her fellow Democrats.

What happened: Pastor lobbied the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) in 2021 to make changes that moved about half of her City Council district — split by two congressional districts — into CD3.

  • She sent the commission a letter suggesting that sections of the Scottsdale and north Phoenix-based 1st Congressional District be moved to CD3.
  • The AIRC made her recommended changes, which moved predominantly Democratic areas from CD1 into CD3.

The intrigue: Pastor was widely expected to run for CD3 if incumbent Ruben Gallego jumped into the campaign for U.S. Senate, which he announced in January.

Why it matters: CD1 ended up as arguably the most competitive district in the state, with a very narrow Republican edge.

  • Last year, Democrat Jevin Hodge lost by just under 3,200 to Republican incumbent David Schweikert.
  • CD3 is a heavily Latino district protected by the Voting Rights Act, and would have been overwhelmingly Democratic regardless.

Yes, but: Given how many revisions were made to CD1 and other parts of the congressional map later in the process, it's impossible to say what the district would have looked like without the changes Pastor proposed.

Between the lines: Some Democrats have been critical of Pastor for her lobbying at the AIRC. When she began publicly exploring a campaign, Democratic consultant Tony Cani tweeted that she "hurt other dems in redistricting."

  • Shereen Lerner, one of the two Democratic members of the AIRC, responded to Cani that Pastor's moves were "completely self-serving" and pleased Republicans.

The other side: Democratic Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo, who was part of a coalition that lobbied the AIRC on behalf of a Latino Democratic coalition, tells Axios Phoenix he was "not a fan" of her redistricting moves and it hurt her with party insiders,

  • But, Gallardo says, that only matters to political insiders and doubts that would've had any effect on her campaign if she'd stayed in the race.

Of note: Pastor declined to comment for this story.

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