Advisory panel endorses redistricting maps for New Mexico - Albuquerque Journal

Advisory panel endorses redistricting maps for New Mexico

The state Capitol in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE – An advisory panel to the Legislature on political redistricting on Wednesday advanced three proposals for overhauling district boundaries in New Mexico’s Democrat-dominated House of Representatives, with special deference to Native American communities.

Two of the endorsed redistricting maps follow competing recommendations from Indigenous nations and tribes in northwestern New Mexico, a celebrated cradle of ancient civilization where a recent decline in population threatens to disrupt and dilute majority-Native American voting districts.

A coalition that includes 19 Native American pueblo communities and the Jicarilla Apache Nation painstakingly advanced a plan for the northwest region that emphasizes each tribe’s right to self-determination. Breaking with that emphasis, redistricting negotiators for the Navajo Nation have advanced a plan that focused on retaining Native American majorities of roughly 65% or more in six House districts.

Those Native American plans each won endorsement by the state’s Citizens Redistricting Committee, alongside a map from the left-leaning Center for Civic Policy that reduces the number of state House districts in an area of Albuquerque home to predominantly white, non-Hispanic residents.

In the redistricting process, New Mexico presents unusual challenges in efforts to comply with the U.S. Voting Rights Act to preserve communities of interest and give minority voters a fair shot to elect candidates of their choice. Nearly 48% of state residents claim Hispanic ancestry – the highest portion in the nation – and more than 12% identify themselves as Indigenous by race or by combined ancestry.

“I do believe that we have an opportunity to do something with the House map that has not been possible for decades, if ever,” said redistricting adviser and attorney Lisa Curtis, a Democrat who voted for all three maps that won endorsements.

Ryan Cangiolosi, a former chairman of the state Republican Party, voted against the committee endorsements.

He said the map from the Center for Civic Policy in particular had partisan objectives and was meant to make way for a Democratic super-majority in the House over the coming decade. The recently announced retirement of Democratic state Rep. Debbie Armstrong of Albuquerque next year makes way for that map with less friction from incumbents.

The recommendations of the Citizens Redistricting Committee are a nonbinding reference point for the Legislature as it enters the once-a-decade process of drawing new political boundaries.

Republicans won a majority in the state House in the 2014 election for the first time in 60 years, but were relegated again to minority status in 2016. Democrats now hold a 45-24 seat advantage, with one unaffiliated representative.

Several states, including New Mexico, are using citizen advisory boards to temper political inclinations without taking redistricting powers away from state lawmakers. Judges might end up using the advisory maps to resolve redistricting lawsuits.

New Mexico lawmakers plan to convene in December to redraw the boundaries for three congressional districts, 112 legislative seats and a commission that oversees public charter schools.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham holds veto authority in the process. It has been 30 years since Democrats controlled both the governor’s office and Legislature during redistricting.

Proposed changes to a congressional swing district in southern New Mexico are under special scrutiny.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop


NM's record-high revenue projections keep climbing
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico's sky-high revenue projections for ... New Mexico's sky-high revenue projections for the next year shot up again Friday as state economists shared their latest findings at the Capitol. They ...
Firefighters tackle warehouse fire in NW ABQ
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque Fire Rescue responded to a ... Albuquerque Fire Rescue responded to a blaze at a warehouse in the early hours of Friday morning in Northwest Albuquerque. AFR, in a release, ...
DA’s lawsuit seeks GPS data for defendants on pretrial ...
ABQnews Seeker
District Attorney Raúl Torrez on Thursday ... District Attorney Raúl Torrez on Thursday sued the administrator of the 2nd Judicial District Court in Albuquerque, alleging that court officials are violating the ...
Broad coalition urges support for PNM/Avangrid merger
ABQnews Seeker
After PRC meeting, AG Balderas concerned ... After PRC meeting, AG Balderas concerned about commissioners' impartiality
Sandia Prep junior sings her way to Carnegie Hall
ABQnews Seeker
Sofia Chalamidas hopes to attend college ... Sofia Chalamidas hopes to attend college at either New York University or Carnegie Mellon, and become a professional singer
State to require booster shots for some workers
ABQnews Seeker
More than 2,000 new COVID cases ... More than 2,000 new COVID cases reported Thursday
Hot air balloon 'menorah' to be lit Sunday
ABQnews Seeker
Event marks the last night of ... Event marks the last night of the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah
BioPark releases minnows into Rio Grande
ABQnews Seeker
Part of endangered species recovery efforts Part of endangered species recovery efforts
Governor adds stimulus spending to session agenda
ABQnews Seeker
Legal clash over the handling of ... Legal clash over the handling of the funds poised to intensify as Lujan Grisham accused of spend