Many of the most vulnerable House incumbents have already attracted challengers for 2016 — but not in Arizona, where races are largely on hold thanks to a Supreme Court case that’s threatening to erase the state’s congressional map. The case, which pits Arizona’s Republican-dominated Legislature against its Independent Redistricting Commission, could invalidate maps that were drawn by the commission in 2011 and that give the Legislature power to reshape the state’s congressional districts ahead of the 2016 election. Republicans in the Arizona Legislature would be able to draw more GOP voters into the state’s three most competitive districts, potentially undercutting Democratic Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema and aiding newly elected GOP Rep. Martha McSally.
The court is expected to issue a ruling before the current term ends in late June. But the uncertainty generated by the case is already giving potential Democratic challengers to McSally some pause.
Democratic state Rep. Bruce Wheeler, who formed an exploratory committee in February, said he plans to announce a run for McSally’s seat in the 2nd District in the coming weeks. “The only obstacle I see is the Supreme Court decision,” he said.
Wheeler said he won’t wait for the court’s decision to formally announce a bid, but he might reconsider a run if the Legislature dramatically redraws the district. “If it looks hopeless for any Democrat,” he said, “anyone would have to reevaluate.”