Redistricting Committee approves three radical state House map concepts

On Wednesday, the New Mexico Citizens Redistricting Committee (CRC) reconvened for its final meeting to approve maps for the New Mexico House of Representatives, adopting three concepts, including two that extremely gerrymander the state and one that does not. Last week, the Committee approved map concepts for Congress, state Senate, and the Public Education Commission.

Far-left Member Lisa Curtis, a former Democrat lawmaker, said regarding the heavily gerrymandered Center for Civic Policy (CCP) map drawn (Concept E), “What we have heard from the public that have come to talk to us is the existence of vote dissolution in certain parts of our state within the Native American Community and especially within the growing Hispanic community.”

She said regarding the map that claims to be the “People’s Map,” “I’m not in favor of a status quo map. We have white majorities created solely to defeat [people of color].” She added, “It fixes a generational problem in this state.”

Curtis claimed the map “cannot be attacked on a Voting Rights Act level. The only way this map gets attacked is on partisanship reasons and that is just not appropriate. We should not be saving things.” 

However, Member Ryan Cangiolosi, a Republican, said, “I do disagree.” He noted the blatant partisanship of the map denoting gerrymandering, including “snake-like districts.” He said, “We’re seeing what seems like gerrymandering in that regard.” 

The CCP map used wide population swings from district to district, some even over ten percent. Traditionally, New Mexico House maps have not deviated more than five percent, which Member Cangiolosi had an issue with. 

Cangiolosi said, “What we see here in this map is a partisan map meant to make a majority in the House a supermajority in the House.”

“I’m going to vote no on this map. I don’t agree with this map, and I am going to stick to the CRC’s maps,” he added, referring to maps drawn by the Committee — not outside bad actors like the CCP.

Member Robert Rhatigan argued in favor of the heavily gerrymandered CCP map, saying,
“Equity and equality cannot be confused.” He said “in order to reach equity,” he is “okay with the deviations” of more than five percent.

Justice Edward Chávez, the Democrat chairman of the Committee, chimed in, saying, “I am persuaded that we can deviate accordingly, as long as we don’t exceed ten percent.” 

The final vote on the extremist CCP map was 5-2, with all members except Republicans Ryan Cangiolosi and Christopher Saucedo approving the concept. 

The committee went on to vote on another map, Concept I, which deviates over five percent and includes many of the criticisms Cangiolosi and Saucedo had of the CCP map. It passed the Committee on a vote of 4-3, with Member Michael Sanchez voting with Cangiolosi and Saucedo against it. 

The panel discussed House Concept C, which is a map that does not deviate over five percent, while also taking into account much of the testimony heard in the Committee over the last few months. 

Member Rhatigan said of the map, “It’s a decent option insofar as it is something different.” The map, however, failed with a vote of 4-3. Rhatigan, despite his comments, voted against the concept. 

Another extreme map, Concept J, was then passed by the committee, which is similar to map I. All three maps are not good news for rural or conservative voices, which are lacking in the Legislature, to begin with. It is unclear which map is the least harmful to conservatives, although the prospect of a GOP House majority appears slimmer now.

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