SANTA FE — Republican Gov. Susana Martinez along with some Democrats and minority voters are working on a possible compromise on a congressional redistricting proposal to offer to a state District Court that will determine district boundaries for the rest of the decade.
Lawyers for the governor and a group that includes Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, along with Hispanic, African American and Native American voters outlined their negotiations Tuesday to District Judge James Hall at a hearing to prepare for a trial that starts Dec. 5 on congressional redistricting.
The lawyers are working on what they described as a “least change” plan, which will make as few revisions as possible to New Mexico’s three congressional seats and won’t substantially alter the current political tilt of the districts.
Currently, the 3rd District of northern New Mexico is heavily Democratic and the 2nd District of southern New Mexico has been reliably Republican. The Albuquerque-area 1st District has been the most politically competitive seat although Republicans held it for decades until a Democrat won in 2008 and in 2010.
The goal of redistricting is to adjust boundaries for population changes during the past decade and equalize district populations as much as possible to comply with legal requirements for one-person, one vote.
“We are optimistic we can come to a reasonable settlement,” Paul Kennedy, a lawyer for the governor, said after the hearing.
He said the governor wants to resolve the congressional redistricting dispute and potentially lessen the state’s legal expenses.
He and Joseph Goldberg, a lawyer for the minority and Democratic group of voters, said there’s a tentative agreement on a proposal but a few details remain unresolved. Kennedy said talks continue over a couple of precincts in Valencia and Bernalillo counties, including Native American areas.
However, not all Democrats in the redistricting court fight are backing the potential compromise.
A separate group of Democrats, including Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas of Albuquerque, continue to push a different plan, which would consolidate most of Bernalillo and Valencia counties into the 1st District and make it slightly more Democratic in its voting.
Even if an agreement is reached between Republicans and some Democrats, it still will be up to the judge to decide congressional district boundaries.
Kennedy said lawyers in the negotiations are optimistic the judge will accept a plan that makes few changes to district boundaries if the proposal is backed by most of the parties in the redistricting dispute.
The redistricting fight shifted to the courts after the Democratic-controlled Legislature failed to approve a congressional redistricting plan and the governor vetoed Democratic-backed proposals for drawing new boundaries for the state House, state Senate and Public Regulation Commission. Hall has scheduled trials on legislative and PRC redistricting later in December and in January.
Nov. 22, 2011 5:01 p.m.
By Barry Massey / The Associated Press
SANTA FE — Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and some Democrats are working on a possible bipartisan agreement on a congressional redistricting proposal to offer to a state District Court.
Lawyers for the governor and a group of Democrats outlined their negotiations Tuesday to District Judge James Hall at a hearing to prepare for a trial that starts Dec. 5 on congressional redistricting.
The lawyers are working on what they describe as a “least change” plan, which would make as few revisions as possible to New Mexico’s three congressional seats. The goal of redistricting is to adjust boundaries for population changes during the past decade and equalize district populations as much as possible.
There’s a separate Democratic group pushing a different redistricting plan and it isn’t backing the possible bipartisan compromise.