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Redistricting out the opposition?

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Republicans: Proposed redistricting maps by special interest groups heavily favor Democrats

At least one proposed map redistricting New Mexico’s Congressional Districts would see Hobbs and Lea County split into two, meaning the current district where Congressional District 2 only represents all of southern New Mexico, including Lea County, would no longer be the case.

The New Mexico Citizen’s Redistricting Committee has made proposed redistricting maps available online, as well as tools for anyone who wishes to submit a redrawn state-wide district map.

The committee meets 1-7 p.m. today (Oct. 15) via Zoom to adopt maps to present them to the state legislature. Links to maps and the meeting can be found on its website at https://www.nmredistricting.org/.

One submitted map in particular has drawn criticism — Map H, submitted by the Center for Civic Policy — and is up for consideration. The CCP bills itself as a non-partisan 501(c)3 organization, but its top staff bios tout backgrounds in progressive activism causes and organizations.

Shortly after the 2020 election, when Republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., won New Mexico’s Second Congressional District — the fifth largest congressional district by area in the U.S., and larger than the land area of the state of Florida — New Mexico Speaker of the House Brian Egolf’s comments created controversy by insinuating progressive Democrats would gerrymander the district in a way it would be difficult for Republicans to win.

“So this is the last election for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District with a map that looks like it looks now,” Egolf said in a veiled threat about redistricting. “So next time it’ll be a different district and we’ll have to see what that means for Republican chances to hold it.”

Map H appears to keep Egolf’s promise of splitting the district — regardless of how many areas are split and thrown into areas completely unlike others — and Republicans are pointing out the  partisanship of it.

“I know for a fact Speaker Brian Egolf is pushing (Map) H,” said Lea County Republican Party Chairperson Carol Parish. “We’re so different from that area (other portions of the proposed new districts which stretch from the northern portion of Hobbs to the northeast corner of the state as part of CD-1). Our wants and needs are different from them, and that’s like a 500 mile difference, and that’s like a 10 or 12 hour drive for a representative to make. That’s huge.”

“We’re opposing Map H,” said State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce, who represented New Mexico in Congress for 14 years. “Egolf said he was going to do it, and this (Map H) appears to be his map.”

Pearce said Map H essentially tries to create a one-party state.

“One party states, that’s Venezuela, Cuba, Russia. Those are one party states,” Pearce warned. “I don’t think we want that. And, New Mexico has had 90 years of one party control in the legislative body. Republican governors can come and go, but they can’t pass legislation — they can only sign it or veto it. The policies in place (now) represent 90 years of Democrat control.”

There are other options the committee is considering besides Map H.

Pearce said of all the maps currently up for possible redistricting, Map A currently most closely resembles the way current districts are laid out, and adjusts for population. Democrats don’t like Map A because they want to give the perception CD-2 disenfranchises minority voters, Pearce said.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. It is 55.8 percent Hispanic in the second district under Map A, which is kind of the status quo,” said Pearce. “It’s 65 percent minority over all, 35 percent white and the voting population breaks down 51.5 percent Hispanic, 60.7 percent over all minority voters, and still under 40 percent white voters.

“Democrats don’t mind disenfranchising conservative Democrats (or) Hispanics. They just want their outcome and they are willing to rig the map in their favor.”

Parish also agreed Map A seems to be the closest aligned to the way the three New Mexico Congressional districts are currently split.

“Map A is very similar to what we (the state of New Mexico) are now,” said Parish. “I think if they just move a line a little bit north, or one a little bit south — you don’t have to move it much — I think that would be the best.”

Pearce said Democrats fail to connect with Hispanic voters in the district because they don’t align ideologically with Hispanics.

“Progressives don’t align with the conservative values of Hispanic voters in the second district,” he told the News-Sun.

He also said Democrats aren’t concerned with keeping similar areas together, whether that is the southeast portion of the state or the Zuni Pueblo.

“It is split between the second and third Congressional districts, with the vast majority in the second,” said Pearce. “I would make a minor adjustment and place the Zuni (Pueblo) fully in the second district.”

Map H would also push other Republican leaning areas like Roswell and Lincoln County out of CD-2 and into CD-1, thus further reducing to possibility of there ever being a moderate or right-leaning Congressional district in the state, Pearce said.

“We need to have balance in our state,” Parish said.

Pearce noted Map A seems to be the most balanced with CD-2 having 38 percent Democrat registered voters, 38 percent registered Republican voters, and 24 percent other registered voters. The district would also remain a mostly minority district with 55.8 percent of registered voters being Hispanic.

The committee will meet again and take public comment via Zoom at 3 p.m. on Oct. 19.

 

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