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New Mexico governor signs state House redistricting measure

December 30, 2021 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed legislation to redraw election boundaries for seats in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

The Democrat signed the measure Wednesday, calling it a “sound map that is representative and respectful of New Mexico’s varied communities of interest.”

Republicans disagree. They have argued that the maps approved by the Democrat-led Legislature are partisan and far from fair representation. They contend that the voices of rural residents, conservative Democrats and independents will be marginalized.

The legislation was approved during a special session earlier this month in which lawmakers also carved new districts for the state Senate and New Mexico’s three congressional districts.

The session marked the first time in 30 years that Democrats controlled both legislative chambers and the governor’s office during the redistricting process. Past plans have repeatedly ended up in court, and Republicans have indicated they are considering legal action.

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The House map is expected to give Democrats an edge in about 45 of 70 seats; they already hold a 45-24 advantage, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

The new districts drew fierce criticism from Republicans because of its effect on veteran GOP lawmaker Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert of Corrales. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that she was pushed into a new and heavily Democratic district, lessening her chances of winning her next election.

Powdrell-Culbert, one of the Legislature’s few Black lawmakers, said after the special session that redistricting will affect New Mexico for years to come. She urged her colleagues to address the conflict.