New Mexico governor approves 3-district congressional map

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s Democratic governor signed legislation Friday to redraw the state’s three congressional districts and divide a conservative stronghold into multiple districts over the objections of Republicans.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a former three-term congresswoman, on Friday said the new congressional map establishes a “reasonable baseline for competitive federal elections, in which no one party or candidate may claim any undue advantage.”

Republicans disagree, calling it a power grab by Democrats who have long dominated state politics.

“These maps are far from fair representation, and they are a disservice to constituents,” said Steve Pearce, chair of the Republican Party of New Mexico. “The real losers are the rural voices of New Mexico, conservative Democrats, Republicans and independents. Democrats have deliberately carved up and extended areas in order to have an advantage. ”

Consultants to the Legislature say the new congressional map gives Democrats an advantage in all three districts to varying degrees, based on past voting behavior.

Republicans need a net gain of five seats in 2022 to take control of the U.S. House and effectively freeze President Joe Biden’s agenda on everything from climate change to the economy.

Democrat-backed redistricting plans for the House and Senate also were on their way to the governor’s office Friday after a final House vote. Both plans embrace recommendations from Native American communities for shoring up Indigenous voting blocs in New Mexico’s northwest corner.

Under the new congressional map, the traditionally conservative-leaning 2nd District would incorporate heavily Hispanic neighborhoods of Albuquerque and cede portions of an oil producing region in southeastern New Mexico. GOP U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, won the district in 2020 by ousting a one-term Democrat.

The changes also hold political implications for first-term Democratic U.S. Reps. Melanie Stansbury of Albuquerque and Teresa Leger Fernandez of Santa Fe.

Republicans have warned that the congressional map is aimed at imposing political representation that is hostile to a thriving oil and natural gas industry in the southeast.

State Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said the districts each bring together urban and rural residents.

“The new congressional map creates districts where we have to work together — rural and urban, north and south, and Democrats, Republicans and independents. That is a good thing,” Wirth said in a statement.

Republicans unsuccessfully fought provisions of the state Senate redistricting bill that would pit two incumbent Hispanic Republican senators against each other in the same district for the next election cycle.

Republican House minority whip Rod Montoya of Farmington said the Senate map placed Democratic and Native American priorities over the interests of other communities, including politically conservative Latinos.

“I think if you are a New Mexico Hispanic with certain priorities, you have a target on your back,” said Montoya, a Latino legislator whose wife and children are Native Americans of Navajo descent.

Democratic State Rep. Anthony Allison, a member of the Navajo Nation from Fruitland, on Friday commended colleagues for adopting detailed Native American recommendations.

He said the painstaking, eight-month process of consultation among Indigenous communities on redistricting priorities was like assembling a well-balanced ball of yarn.

“What I have witnessed ... is a resilience of people who have been here since time immemorial,” Allison said.