NM's GOP files lawsuit over new congressional map - Albuquerque Journal

NM’s GOP files lawsuit over new congressional map

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – With control of the U.S. House at stake in November, the New Mexico Republican Party filed a lawsuit in state court Friday over a new congressional map signed into law last month by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The lawsuit, also filed by seven other plaintiffs, argues the Democratic-backed map redrawing the boundaries of New Mexico’s three congressional districts for the next decade intentionally chops up Republican voting strongholds.

Specifically, the suit claims the boundaries violate redistricting principles established by the Legislature and previous court rulings to accomplish a “political gerrymander” that dilutes the votes of southeast New Mexico residents to obtain a partisan advantage.

It was filed in the state’s 5th District Court in Lea County by a legal team that has also been involved with redistricting litigation in Colorado.

“The Democrats’ cynical attempt to consolidate their power by abusing the redistricting process in New Mexico is illegal and wrong,” state GOP Chairman Steve Pearce, a former congressman, said in a statement Friday.

The new congressional map, which is set to take effect in March, was passed by lawmakers on largely party-line votes during a special session last month at the Roundhouse, with majority Democrats voting in favor.

The map splits Albuquerque into two districts and moves some of southeast New Mexico, which traditionally skews conservative, into congressional districts now represented by U.S. Reps. Melanie Stansbury and Teresa Leger Fernandez, both Democrats.

As a result, the 2nd Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, the lone Republican member of New Mexico’s congressional delegation, would become more Democratic.

Herrell, who is seeking reelection this year, has also described the map as an example of gerrymandering and said it shows Democrats’ desperation to “try to save Nancy Pelosi’s majority,” a reference to the current U.S. House speaker.

However, Democratic backers of the redrawn map have described it as a legally sound approach to setting congressional district boundaries that ensures each of the state’s three districts includes both rural and urban areas.

Several immigrant advocacy groups have also expressed support for the map, saying it will provide fairer representation for Latino and immigrant communities, especially those who work in oil fields and other jobs in southeast New Mexico.

After signing the map into law, Lujan Grisham said it represents “a reasonable baseline for competitive federal elections, in which no one party or candidate may claim any undue advantage.”

The GOP-backed lawsuit disputes that claim.

It asks a judge to strike down the new boundaries and replace them with a map proposed by the Citizen Redistricting Committee, a group created last year to come up with recommendations for lawmakers.

“Now, New Mexico’s congressional map is a hopelessly partisan map that casts aside traditional redistricting principles to ensure a Democratic sweep through the dilution of votes,” the 28-page lawsuit says.

In addition to the state Republican Party, the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include state Sen. David Gallegos, R-Eunice; former state House candidate Dinah Vargas of Albuquerque; and ex-Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, a Roswell Democrat who was ousted from the Senate in 2012 after serving for 34 years.

The listed defendants in the case include Lujan Grisham, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Lt. Gov. Howie Morales and top-ranking Democratic lawmakers in the state House and Senate.

Meanwhile, last year’s special session marked the first time in 30 years that Democrats controlled both chambers of the Legislature and the Governor’s Office during a redistricting year.

Lawmakers are authorized under the state Constitution to redraw political boundary lines once every decade based on population changes.

New Mexico had a population of slightly more than 2.1 million people, according 2020 census data. Thus, the target population for each of the state’s three congressional districts is roughly 705,000 residents.

More Journal Polls

Home » ABQnews Seeker » NM’s GOP files lawsuit over new congressional map


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 yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Wrongful death suit over vet's death settled
ABQnews Seeker
Lawsuit had alleged medical negligence at ... Lawsuit had alleged medical negligence at Truth or Consequences facility
2
BernCo extends manager's contract for another three years
ABQnews Seeker
New agreement also boosts annual salary ... New agreement also boosts annual salary from $195K to $215K
3
Courts look to alter cannabis expungement
ABQnews Seeker
Citing strain, chief justice says individuals ... Citing strain, chief justice says individuals should need to apply for process
4
$2.5 billion for fire damage relief included in spending ...
ABQnews Seeker
People, businesses and other groups, such ... People, businesses and other groups, such as acequias, can apply for relief
5
Netflix launches interactive site of its New Mexico productions
ABQnews Seeker
Netflix to launch interactive site of ... Netflix to launch interactive site of its New Mexico productions
6
County extends manager's contract for another three years
ABQnews Seeker
New agreement also boosts annual salary ... New agreement also boosts annual salary from $195K to $215K
7
Balloon Fiesta will have heftier security
ABQnews Seeker
Officials considered large-scale events elsewhere in ... Officials considered large-scale events elsewhere in the US
8
1 dead in reported shooting in Southwest Albuquerque
ABQnews Seeker
Witness says that a spray of ... Witness says that a spray of bullets came through a window
9
Floods trap many in Florida as Ian heads to ...
ABQnews Seeker
Rescue crews piloted boats and waded ... Rescue crews piloted boats and waded through inundated streets Thursday to save thousands of Floridians trapped amid flooded homes and shattered buildings left by ...