On Friday, the names of most of the New Mexico redistricting commission members were revealed, with Democrat retired New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Edward Chávez, who was initially appointed to the Court by embattled Democrat Gov. Bill Richardson, being tapped as the commission’s chairman of the seven-person panel, which is set to draw district boundaries to present to the Legislature.
Other members joining the committee include State Demographer Robert Rhatigan and teacher Joaquin Sanchez, both of which are not registered to vote with any major party.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, “Rhatigan is director of Geospatial and Population Studies at the University of New Mexico, where his work gives him a strong background in census data and map-making. Sanchez is a former engineer who now works as a math and special education teacher at Robert F. Kennedy Charter High School.”
Republican New Mexico Senate Leader Greg Baca (R-Valencia) chose Albuquerque attorney Christopher Saucedo, a New Mexico State University regent to be on the committee, while Democrat Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart chose former Democrat state Sen. Lisa Curtis and Democrat House Speaker Brian chose disgraced former state Sen. Michael Sanchez to serve on the panel. Republican House Leader Jim Townsend has yet to make his selection for the seven-person panel.
In December, the New Mexico Legislature is likely to convene to hash out differences on the committee’s proposed legislative maps. The new “independent” process is a proposal set to “limit political influence over the once-a-decade drawing of district maps for Congress and the Legislature,” according to the Journal.
The redistricting panel bill passed in the last hours of the 2021 Legislature as a brokered deal between Democrat and Republican leaders to get the proposal to the finish line.
Previously on a Zoom call with a left-wing group, Retake Our Democracy, Egolf blasted the idea of an independent redistricting commission, saying, “I think that it puts at unacceptable peril a woman’s right to choose, environmental protection, fairness in taxation.” He added, “It puts at tremendous peril all of the progressive causes that we care about.”
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Speaker Egolf continually whined about Republicans “casting aspersions” that he did not want a fair redistricting process, demanding an apology from Republicans, including GOP Leader Jim Townsend (R-Chaves, Eddy, and Otero). He did not end up getting one, as Egolf has constantly worked to favor Democrats in the redistricting process and only recently joined Sen. Ivey-Soto’s last-ditch redistricting bill to install a more political way of redrawing district maps. After the meeting, Rep. Stefani Lord (R-Bernalillo, Sandoval & Santa Fe) wrote, “We will NEVER apologize for standing up for the people of New Mexico!”