Arizona To Add 10th Seat In House Of Representatives, Early Census Figures Indicate

By Austin Fast
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Thursday, December 24, 2020 - 6:39pm
Updated: Friday, December 25, 2020 - 1:29am

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Official Census numbers come out in January, but the consulting firm Election Data Services Inc. projects they’ll result in Arizona being awarded one additional representative in Washington, beginning in 2022.

Estimates rank Arizona as the fifth-fastest growing state with over a million new residents since the 2010 census. Only Utah, Texas, Idaho and Nevada have had greater growth over the past decade.

Federal law caps members in the U.S. House of Representatives at 435, to be assigned according to population estimates from the decennial census.

Election Data Services
Preliminary figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show which states can expect to gain or lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives once the 2020 Census data is finalized.

Election Data Services' analysis of the newly released Census data shows that if Arizona gets 10 seats in the House, that means 10 districts each with about 742,000 residents to meet the legal mandate for equal population. Arizona’s growth has centered around the Phoenix metropolitan area, meaning the bipartisan redistricting commission would likely carve a new congressional district in Maricopa and Pinal counties.

This voter-created panel is required to consider a variety of factors, like respecting communities of interest and using county boundaries when possible.

Federal lawmakers aren’t required to live in their district, so this likely sets up some political jockeying for the 2022 election. Current and would-be federal lawmakers will have to weigh where exactly to run as Arizona’s districts get redrawn.

Complicating matters is what else is up for grabs in 2022.

Sen. Mark Kelly, elected this year to serve the last two years of the term of the late Sen. John McCain, would have to seek his own six-year term, assuming he runs. And that could prove tempting to Republican congressmen like Andy Biggs and David Schweikert.

On the Democrat side, there is the chance that Congressman Greg Stanton might choose to run for governor — it will be an open seat with Gov. Doug Ducey unable to serve a third term — rather than seek another two years in Congress. And with Ducey out of the way, GOP members of Congress might eye that office.

Arizona is not the only state likely to gain an additional seat (or more). 

The biggest gain is expected in Texas, which Election Data Services President Kimball Brace figures will add three more seats, bringing its representation in the House up to 39. That’s based on adding more than 4.2 million new residents in the past decade.

Florida also is likely to pick up two more seats, moving to 29 representatives.

And along with Arizona, other states gaining a seat are Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon.

But where there are winners — and a 435-seat maximum — there have to be losers.

Brace said New York, which actually lost more than 41,000 residents according to the latest estimate, will drop at least one of its 27 seats in the House. And he figures it actually could be a net loss of two.

That’s due to the bid of the Trump administration to exclude from the count people who are not lawfully present in the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court late last week sidestepped the legality of that move, with the majority of the justices concluding the case was not ripe for review because the administration had not said which individuals it wanted to exclude from the count. That potentially paves the way for a future ruling.

Brace figures that if undocumented individuals are excluded, that likely would cost New York a second seat. And the winner in that scenario appears to be Alabama, which might be able to hang on to all of its seven representatives.

California also is likely to lose a representative, leaving it with just 52 members in the House, but still far ahead of anywhere else.

Also declining would be Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

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