he Republican-controlled Arizona legislature has approved a new congressional map that veteran Democratic Rep. Morris K. Udall says he will challenge in federal court.
"I think any fair-minded judge will see this turkey for what it is," Udall said from his Washington office.
The plan is certain to be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Bruce Babbitt, but Republicans, who have lined up the support of four rural, conservative Democrats, expect to override the veto.
Actually, Republicans have given Udall a choice of two districts from which to run. His present district takes in all of Pima County (Tucson) and most of southern Arizona, and gives him a comfortable Democratic majority.
The new plan, sent to the governor Tuesday night, splits Tucson, throwing the west side of the city, with its mostly Hispanic population, into a district that runs north to Phoenix, where it pulls in large minority blocs in south Phoenix. Democrats would have 64 percent of the registered voters, to nearly 29 percent for Republicans.
But two-thirds of the district's voters would be in Phoenix, not appealing to Udall, who has spent 20 years in Congress as a representative from Tucson.
Udall's other option would take in the more-affluent east side of Tucson and the largely conservative southeastern portion of the state. The breakdown in that district is 51 percent Democratic and 37.4 percent Republican, but many of those Democrats vote like Republicans.
Udall says he thinks he could win in either district. "I'm not a quitter," he said. "I'm a fighter, and we're gonna take 'em on, and we're gonna win. But first we go to court.
"Most of my roots are in southern Arizona. That's where I got my education, my children were born, and where I began my political life as county attorney. I've fought the fights of Tucson. I've worked to create the parks and wilderness areas that make this a special place."
Babbitt said he expects to veto the map, which is subject to Justice Department approval, before he leaves for ceremonies Monday at Pearl Harbor, marking the 40th anniversary of the start of World War II. Republican legislators will resume their session on Monday to overturn the governor's expected veto.
If the governor vetoes the map, and the legislature overrides it, Democrats are toying with the idea of starting a referendum drive, which would give voters a chance to accept or reject the map in the November, 1982, general election. Should there be a referendum, state legislators probably would run from their present districts, and the new fifth congressional seat picked up by Arizona might be declared an at-large district.
Carrying the plot a step further, Republicans warned that if Democrats go the referendum route, they would launch an initiative drive, giving voters in the same election a chance to vote on a totally new map. That map, the GOP says, would be far more beneficial to Republicans than the one passed by the legislature Tuesday night.