Rep. “Moe” Maestas, Brittany Poss and Mark Baker in committee. (Photo by Austin Fisher / Source NM)
An updated proposal to redraw New Mexico’s congressional map cleared the state’s House of Representatives on Saturday evening, with Democrats arguing the redrawn political boundaries will bridge the state’s urban-rural divide.
The House passed the bill in a 44-24 vote and it’s now headed to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk.
Under the latest version of the map, CD 1 retains its urban core, keeping most of Rio Rancho and Albuquerque’s east side, said Brittany Poss, data and analytics director at Research & Polling, Inc.
Unlike the previous version, she said, CD 1 picks up significantly more rural counties. While the district currently contains Torrance County, under this proposal, it would have Guadalupe, De Baca and Lincoln counties, along with the northern half of Mescalero Apache tribal lands.
The district would also pick up the northern part of Chaves County, including part of the city of Roswell, she said, while most of the city would remain in CD 3.
Rep. Greg Nibert (R-Roswell) opposed the bill on the grounds that it split the city of Roswell between districts 1 and 3, which he said would confuse voters about who their congressperson is.
Nibert also said the final maps that were passed were warped to achieve a political end.
“Each one of these districts, in my opinion, reduces the voice of rural New Mexicans,” he said. “They will not have representation in Washington D.C. at the conclusion of next year’s voting.”
Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces) had earlier in the week introduced a new congressional map. Then the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday morning introduced a modified version of his map.
Rep. Georgene Louis (D-Albuquerque), who carried the same proposal through the House, said it would make all three congressional districts more competitive.
The modified version, called the Senate Judiciary Substitute for SB 1, was approved by the House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs committee on Saturday morning in a 6-to-3 party-line vote.
The committee substitute is based on a map proposed by the independent Citizen Redistricting Committee, officially called Concept H but also referred to as “The People’s Map” by supporters.
The proposal overlaps with 86.6% of the CRC one, Louis said. It drew support in committee from the People’s Power People’s People’s Map campaign, El Centro de Acción y Poder, and NM CAFé.
The map also keeps the entirety of Artesia in CD 3, Poss said. District 3 would also include the northern half of Hobbs and Lea County, she said. The northern part of the Zuni Pueblo will also join CD 3.
The Albuquerque Metro area will be represented by all three congressional districts. The majority of Albuquerque and Rio Rancho will be in CD 1 and a small portion of CD 3 will include the northern edge of Rio Rancho.
Albuquerque’s Westside and parts of Downtown starting with a split in the Barelas neighborhood, and the South Valley will join CD 2, which is currently represented by Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell.
Rep. Moe Maestas (D-Albuquerque) questioned the bedfellows created by the new boundaries.
“What does Grants have to do with Artesia?” Maestas asked. “What does the entire west side [of Albuquerque] have to do with Clayton?”
Isleta Pueblo and the southern portion of Zuni Pueblo will also join CD 2. Louis said Zuni Pueblo leaders wanted their community district split to offer a chance for greater representation.
From there, CD 2 extends across the entire southwestern part of the state, past Las Cruces and to the farthest southeastern part of New Mexico.
While Republicans scrutinized the new districts and what they called Democratic gerrymandering, Rep. Susan Herrera (D-Embudo) said the maps are competitive and come with risks for both parties.
“There are no guarantees in this map,” she said. “Things are changing quickly In this country, in this state. I think it’s incumbent on each of us to go out and run the best races we can, go out to talk to people and hear why they think we can go out and carry the wishes of the district.”
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