The very next day after Yvette Herrell’s strong victory in New Mexico’s Second Congressional District last November, House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, told the media that this year’s redistricting process would be used to make Herrell’s district more difficult for her to win again.
The speaker’s comments were widely condemned, including by the Albuquerque Journal’s Editorial Board, who wrote, “Egolf’s statements ignore the value of a marketplace of ideas and a multiparty political system, and fail to recognize that 23% of New Mexico’s registered voters have no party affiliation.”
In response to widespread and valid concerns about partisan gerrymandering, the New Mexico Legislature established the Citizen’s Redistricting Committee during the past legislative session. The committee is a politically balanced group of New Mexico citizens with the mandate of proposing new legislative maps that are developed without regard to partisan affiliations, while protecting communities of interest throughout our state. The committee achieved that goal admirably with the initial concept maps they proposed recently, especially on the congressional level, where the basic cores of New Mexico’s three districts were kept largely intact in each of the seven draft maps.
Unfortunately, as the committee’s work has drawn to a close, we’ve seen exactly what Egolf meant by his gerrymander threat with the emergence of the so-called “People’s Map” by far-left activists to the New Mexico Citizen Redistricting Committee. This congressional map generated by a constellation of liberal organizations directly targets the Southeast portion of the state that we represent, splitting our community of interest into three different districts in order to rob us of the chance to have a voice in our federal elections. Much of Hobbs would be placed in the northern-based 3rd District, while Roswell is lumped in with Albuquerque in the 1st. Carlsbad and Artesia would remain in the 2nd District, separated from the other population centers in our region.
Despite countless statements and testimonies from citizens of southeastern New Mexico opposing this attempt to gerrymander our district, the committee unfortunately caved to pressure from the far left and included their map in their recommendations to the Legislature. That is a disappointing decision – and greatly brings into question the supposed nonpartisanship of this committee.
Our three counties – where we have the honor of serving as the chairs of our county commissions – are the very definition of a community of interest. Lea, Chaves and Eddy are the economic drivers of New Mexico, contributing more in tax revenue than any other part of the state and providing good-paying jobs to tens of thousands of hard-working New Mexicans in the energy industry. We deserve a continued seat at the table in our government, a fact acknowledged by long-standing precedent, as well as the new congressional maps initially released by the committee before this partisan “People’s Map” emerged.
This newly proposed congressional map would split up our region, with the blatant goal of denying our constituents the opportunity to have a voice representing us at the federal level. As chairs of the Lea, Chaves and Eddy commissions, we respectfully request the Citizen’s Redistricting Committee withdraw its recommendation, and reject this cynical and discriminatory attempt to gerrymander our state’s congressional districts to benefit one political party and remove the small amount of balance we currently have in our federal delegation. This so-called “People’s Map” in reality isolates and divides our people, and we believe our state deserves much better.