Top Dems attempt to boot Dem mayor from gerrymandering lawsuit

Leading Democrat lawmakers involved in the challenge to the state’s gerrymandered congressional districts are seeking to have Democrat Roswell Mayor Timothy “Tim” Jennings and two other individuals removed as plaintiffs from the case, prompting a debate over legal standing and representation.

The motion, filed by attorneys representing New Mexico Speaker of the House Javier Martinez and Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, contends that Jennings, along with fellow plaintiffs Dinah Vargas and Pearl Garcia, have failed to establish sufficient legal standing in the lawsuit. Legal standing, which enables an individual plaintiff to bring a specific claim to court, has become a central point of contention in the ongoing dispute over the redrawing of New Mexico’s congressional districts through S.B. 1.

Jennings speaking at a City Council meeting in 2022.

In a detailed 23-page motion, the Democrat legislators’ legal team argues that the plaintiffs have not adequately demonstrated that they have personally suffered harm due to the passage of SB 1. The motion asserts, “None of these three plaintiffs — allege— nor could they demonstrate— that their votes have been diluted under SB-1 or that relief the plaintiffs seek would redress any alleged harm. Accordingly, they should be dismissed from this action.”

While the plaintiffs counter that their grievance stems from the alleged cracking of conservative communities, particularly Roswell, among the three newly delineated districts, the lawmakers’ motion claims there needs more proof for plaintiffs to substantiate how their votes have been diluted and how the relief sought will address this issue. 

In an interview with the Roswell Daily Record, Mayor Jennings expressed strong disagreement with the motion, stating, “That’s bull. There is no reason I shouldn’t have standing.” Jennings, a Democrat who joined the Republican-backed challenge to the congressional map, contends that his community’s interests have been negatively impacted by the redistricting.

The heart of the dispute lies in Jennings’ claim that his community of Roswell was adversely affected by the redistricting. His argument emphasizes that the redistricting process has split his like-minded community among multiple districts, thereby diluting their collective voting power. The plaintiffs argue that this division prevents them from uniting to elect a candidate of their choice, directly opposing the central principle of equal representation.

The gerrymandered districts, which chopped up multiple communities and resulted in snake-like shapes, shifted the lone Republican district from leaning Republican by 14 points to now favoring Democrats by four points — an 18-point swing. This is a classic sign of partisan gerrymandering, along with the sprawling districts, as evidenced by the new Third Congressional District, which stretches from Jal in the extreme southeast corner of the state to Four Corners in the extreme northwest corner of the state. It would take nine hours and eleven minutes driving nonstop to reach both communities, which are all jumbled in the same district.

Legal experts weigh in on the debate, emphasizing that standing, while crucial in federal courts, is rooted in state constitutions for state court cases. Although the legislators’ strategy to challenge plaintiffs’ standing might not result in the case’s dismissal, the focus on the plaintiffs’ representation highlights the complexity of the legal and political battle surrounding the redistricting dispute.

As the case progresses, the ongoing debate over legal standing and its role in determining representation in state court cases continues to unfold.


5 thoughts on “Top Dems attempt to boot Dem mayor from gerrymandering lawsuit”

    1. No. They are destroying NM. The problem for us is even Roswell has a Democrat. That says a lot about the GOP having almost no say in NM.

  1. Just an OLD woman saying that New Mexico has always had BAD politics and obviously has hit rock bottom with the “so-called” lines for gerry-mandering!! Have the DEMS NO SHAME!! Well NO.

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