Democrat Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces) is acting rather cocky about litigation regarding New Mexico’s congressional map, which he gerrymandered to benefit Democrats by splitting up communities of interest to shift the state’s Republican-leaning Second Congressional District to favor Democrats now.
The state Supreme Court ordered the lower court to decide the case by October, denying the Democrats’ motion to squelch the lawsuit at the state level.
Cervantes claimed he did not gerrymander the map, despite clear signs of partisan gerrymandering and cracking communities of interest, resulted in snake-like districts that spanned everywhere from Española and Taos to Lovington in the Third District, while Albuquerque’s South Valley was plunged into the Second District and the First District paired Albuquerque with Roswell.
The map also chopped up many communities into two or three parts, such as Roswell, Hobbs, Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, and others. The new map shifted the Second District from leaning toward Republicans by 14 points to now favor Democrats by four points.
Cervantes still claims he redrew the map to create “competitive districts.” However, Princeton University’s Gerrymandering Project’s independent review shows zero competitive congressional districts with the new map.
The Las Cruces state senator is doubling down on his claims that the bipartisan lawsuit lodged against the maps is “going nowhere.”
“I was amused by your piece saying I was as wrong as a politician can be,” Cervantes wrote to Santa Fe New Mexican’s Milan Simonich, who admonished the unfair maps. “A bit premature of you, I’d say. But I stand by my statement. The lawsuit is going nowhere. … The Court will uphold the districts. Mark my words.”
“Funny,” Cervantes continued. “But it’s my business to predict court outcomes and application of the laws. We’ll know the outcome and can settle up then.”
The gerrymandering case will be a key milestone in New Mexico for fair maps. Similar states, such as New York, had its high court strike down the Democrat partisan gerrymander of its congressional map, showing even in far-left states, there is cause to be hopeful for maps that are representative of the population — not just a political party’s quest for unlimited power.