New Mexico's Redistricting News
(April 24, 2001-October 15, 2001)


 Santa Fe New Mexican: "New Mexico not alone in redistricting woes." October 15, 2001
 Albuquerque Journal: "Telephone Tag Slows Redistricting Compromise." October 14, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." October 8, 2001
 Albuquerque Tribune: "Johnson's Vetoes Send Redistricting to Courts." October 5, 2001
 Albuquerque Tribune: "Governor Did Like One Map: The One Sent in Error." October 4, 2001
 Associated Press: "New Mexico Governor Vetoes Redistricting Plan." October 4, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." October 1, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." September 24, 2001
 Albuquerque Tribune: "Redistricting Followed a Map to Acrimony." September 21, 2001
 Santa Fe New Mexican: "House Passes Plan for Congressional Redistricting." September 19, 2001
 Associated Press: "Democrats Begin Shaping New House Redistricting Plan." September 17, 2001
 Associated Press: "House, Senate Redistricting Plans Vetoed by Johnson." September 16, 2001
 Santa Fe New Mexican: "Redistricting Plans Get Final Approval." September 15, 2001
 Albuquerque Tribune: "Dems Send Compromise to Johnson." September 13, 2001
 New Mexican: "Democrats say redistricting could wait." September 7, 2001
 New Mexican: "State legislators get down to business."  September 6, 2001
 Albuquerque Journal : "Wilson Re-Election a Priority for Gov."  September 5, 2001
 Amarillo Globe-News : "Legislature Given Legislative Redistricting Plans." August 31, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines." August 6, 2001
 Amarillo Globe-News: "N.M. redistricting options discussed." June 23, 2001
 Amarillo Globe-News: "Committee to hear input on redistricting." June 21, 2001
 Albuquerque Tribune: "This Time Around, Redistricting Has a Wild Card: Gary Johnson." May 13, 2001
 Albuquerque Tribune: "Political Boundaries." April 24, 2001

More recent New Mexico Redistricting News

Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico not alone in redistricting woes

By Barry Massey

October 15, 2001

In Texas, redistricting has fallen to the courts because the Legislature failed to approve any plans. In Oregon, the governor and Legislature couldn't agree on new congressional districts.

New Mexico faces the prospect of having courts decide the shape of new congressional, legislative and state Board of Education districts. It could become clearer in the next few days how judges will handle redistricting in New Mexico.

A state court in Santa Fe has scheduled a "status conference" on redistricting lawsuits today. That could determine a timetable for how the judge will proceed.

A panel of three federal judges holds a hearing Wednesday in Albuquerque to consider whether to give the Legislature another chance to work on redistricting or have the court move ahead with a pending lawsuit.

"There is nothing surprising about what has taken place in New Mexico. It very much fits the pattern," says Tim Storey, a redistricting analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

States having the most difficulty with redistricting, he says, are those with a divided government, like New Mexico.

Republican Gov. Gary Johnson vetoed plans passed by the Democratic-
controlled Legislature for new boundaries of congressional, House and Senate and Board of Education districts. Johnson signed a bill for redistricting the Public Regulation Commission, which regulates utilities and other industries.

Redistricting is the once-a-decade task of adjusting district boundaries for population changes reflected in the decennial census. The goal is to equalize populations in district to comply with the legal doctrine of "one person, one vote."

Republicans and Democrats see redistricting as a way to gain or preserve influence during the next decade. The boundaries of a district can be drawn so the demographics and voting behavior of its residents favors candidates from one party.

In Oregon, courts are handling legislative and congressional redistricting. The Democratic governor of Oregon vetoed a congressional redistricting plan approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature. Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature failed to agree on a legislative redistricting plan.

Oregon, unlike New Mexico, has its secretary of state draw new legislative districts if legislators and the governor can't reach an agreement. But lawsuits were filed contesting what the secretary of state did.

In Texas, a federal court is to start a trial later this month to review a congressional redistricting map drawn by a state judge.

Courts got the assignment after the Republican governor of Texas, Rick Perry, decided not to call a special session of the Legislature because it appeared unlikely that lawmakers could reach a consensus on new congressional districts.

Johnson made a similar decision after the New Mexico Legislature's special session on redistricting last month. Johnson didn't ask lawmakers to convene yet another special session on redistricting because he thought it would prove fruitless.

However, that could change if judges - federal or state - make it clear that they will decide redistricting if the Legislature and governor don't try again to put aside their political differences and reach a compromise.

Exactly how judges will do that remains uncertain. One option is for a court to set a timetable, saying that it will move ahead with a lawsuit starting on a certain date.

That effectively would give the Legislature and the governor a deadline for reaching an agreement, says Deputy Attorney General Stuart Bluestone. He doubts a court would directly order the Legislature to begin work again on redistricting.

"I don't think any court can order the Legislature into a special
session or order the governor to convene a special session," Bluestone said. "By the separation of powers principle, you can't have one branch of government ordering the other what to do."

If the courts take the approach that Bluestone envisions, Johnson will have a critical decision to make: call another special session on redistricting or let the courts do it. The Legislature has the power to convene itself into a special session, but it's never done that.

Even if Johnson and the Legislature agree on a redistricting plan, there's nothing to prevent it from being challenged in court. Judges could end having the final word on redistricting.

Albuquerque Journal
Telephone Tag Slows Redistricting Compromise
By Loie Fecteau
October 14, 2001

House Minority Leader Ted Hobbs called late last week to complain that he was having trouble getting House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, to return his telephone calls.

Hobbs, an Albuquerque Republican, said he is worried that time is wasting for legislators to try to reach some kind of compromise on redrawing voting districts for New Mexico's three U.S. House seats and 112 legislative seats.

"If we're coming back, we ought to be talking," Hobbs said.

Hobbs was referring to the possibility of a court ordering lawmakers and Republican Gov. Gary Johnson to try again to reach agreement on redistricting in another special session. Johnson earlier this month vetoed plans approved by the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

A three-judge federal panel has scheduled a hearing Wednesday in Albuquerque in two lawsuits filed by several Republicans to show cause why the judges should not require legislators and Johnson "to employ a good-faith effort to construct a redistricing plan, before further proceedings in this case."

Other redistricting lawsuits filed by several Democrats and Hispanic activists are pending in state District Court in Santa Fe.

Hobbs said he and Lujan had informally agreed Oct. 5 to have a small group of House members from both sides of the political aisle get together and try to fashion a compromise.

Hobbs said he tried unsuccessfully several times last week to reach Lujan to give him the names of three Republican House members Hobbs would like to see included in that group.

"Maybe we can get some compromise if we get some nonleadership types involved," Hobbs said. "And compromise has to happen or we're just going to sit here watching the black robes make the decisions."

Lujan said he'd been out of town and too busy to return the calls and that Hobbs frets too much.

"Ted hasn't learned that we try to reach compromise by trying to meet the other halfway and not by jumping to conclusions like he's doing here," Lujan said. "I'm disappointed that Ted's way of getting things resolved is to go running to the media."

Lujan said it was his idea that a small group of House members, both Republicans and Democrats, get together to try to work something out ˇ before another special session on redistricting.

"I'm not interested in coming back (into session) if there's no agreement," Lujan said. "I'm also not interested in coming back for more than two or three days."

Lujan said he was open to Hobbs' idea that a possible compromise on redrawing House voting districts might include the pairing of a Democratic incumbent and a Republican incumbent in the same district, meaning one could not be re-elected.

"But I'm not interested in the minority telling me who I have to pair," Lujan said. "We all have to make a good-faith effort. They cannot just expect us to hand over the majority. That is not going to happen."

Lujan said for compromise to work, more rank-and-file Republican House members need to get involved.

"It was all Rod Adair and Jay McCleskey during the session," Lujan said.

Adair, a demographer and GOP state senator from Roswell, was a paid consultant on redistricting hired by the state Republican Party during the special session, while McCleskey is state GOP executive director. "I'd like to see the actual (House) members participate," Lujan said.

Hobbs contends Adair and McCleskey "have nothing to do with the decisions we're making in caucus, nothing."

But Hobbs said Republicans do still have the hammer of Johnson's veto power in the redistricting fight.

"The Democrats said I kept running to the governor asking him to veto (plans)," Hobbs said. "The reason I raised the vetoes was to try to get them to the table and they didn't pick up on that. They took it as a threat. But let's don't forget that's still there. That's part of the mix."

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
October 8, 2001

Johnson Not Enchanted

New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R) last week vetoed a Democratic-drawn House map that would have threatened Rep. Joe Skeen (R), throwing the remap process to the courts and, potentially, back to the state Legislature.

A state or federal court has three options. It could order the state's Democratic-controlled Legislature to try again to configure a House map, find that plans vetoed by Johnson were acceptable or draw the new districts itself.

Johnson said he won't call another special redistricting session for lawmakers unless ordered to by a court.

"Hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless man-hours were wasted in a process that forgot the voter and remembered only partisanship and egotistical bickering. The people of New Mexico deserve better," the governor said last Wednesday in a veto message, describing the Legislature's two-week redistricting session.

The Democratic plan would have increased the party's strength in the southern 2nd district Skeen has represented since 1980, splitting Rep. Heather Wilson's (R) Albuquerque base among all three districts.

"It is partisan gerrymandering at its worst. There exists no justification for the 'pinwheel' [shaped district] other than contempt for the citizens of this state, their history and their multitude of cultural interests," Johnson added.

For their part, Democrats in Santa Fe urged judges to remand the process to the Legislature.

"Compromise occurs when both sides recognize that neither can control the process. I still strongly believe that redistricting is a legislative and not a judicial process," state Senate President Pro Tempore Richard Romero (D) said in a statement.

Albuquerque Tribune
Johnson's Vetoes Send Redistricting to Courts
By Gilbert Gallegos
October 5, 2001

The governor's veto of redistricting plans might prompt the courts to tell legislators to try again, lawmakers predicted.

Gov. Gary Johnson on Wednesday vetoed four of five bills the Legislature approved in a special session last month.

The governor rejected political maps for the state House, Senate, state Board of Education and New Mexico's three congressional seats.

Johnson signed one bill - a new map that changes the district boundaries for the state Public Regulation Commission.

Johnson's vetoes were expected because the Democrat-led Legislature had been in a stalemate with the Republican governor over the new maps.

"I am disappointed that the Legislature could not find within itself the strength to put aside egos and partisanship to arrive at consensus redistricting plans that protect voters rather than politicians," Johnson said in his veto message to legislators.

Democrats, Republicans and Hispanic activists had already filed lawsuits over the redistricting plans.

Several of the lawsuits urged the courts to intervene by compelling the Legislature and governor to agree to new voting districts.

The lawsuits are pending in state and federal courts.

If the Legislature and governor can't reach a compromise, a court or panel of judges could draw its own set of political maps for the Legislature and Congress.

House Minority Leader Ted Hobbs said he thinks the courts were probably waiting for the governor's action on the bills.

"Now I think it's up to the courts to get on with it," said Hobbs, an Albuquerque Republican. "And from what all the lawyers on both sides are saying, the odds are that the courts will send this back to the Legislature one more time to fix it."

House Speaker Ben Lujan said he is not eager about going back into a second special session without an agreement with Republican legislators worked out ahead of time.

"If we could come up with some agreement, then that would be the only benefit to come into session," said Lujan, a Nambe Democrat. "We would be working in vain to come in here otherwise. It would just be a waste of taxpayer money."

The Legislature districts Johnson vetoed were pitched by Democrats as status quo plans, meaning they kept the political makeup of the House and Senate about the same.

But Republicans, including Johnson, complained that the Democrats' plans were unfair because they would keep the balance of power tilted in their direction.

Republicans, who are outnumbered in both the House and Senate, said they deserved a chance at picking up seats.

Democrats have a 42-28 advantage over Republicans in the House and a 24-18 edge in the Senate.

Johnson also vetoed a plan Democrats devised that would have radically realigned the state's three congressional districts.

Republicans complain that Democrats are trying to create a heavily Hispanic district in southern New Mexico just to drum up more votes for a Democratic candidate. The plan would give Democrats the edge in two of the three districts.

Republicans currently hold two seats; a Democrat represents one.

The once-in-a-decade job of drawing new political boundaries is required because of updated head counts from the 2000 census.

Vetoed redistricting maps

Congress: New Mexico's three congressional districts would have been significantly revamped. Republicans say the proposed map could have given Democrats a second seat. The Albuquerque area would have been split among all three districts. The 2nd District, which has been represented by Republican Joe Skeen for two decades, would have become a Democratic-leaning seat. It would have extended south from part of Albuquerque to Las Cruces and then spanned the southern reach of the state from the Arizona border to the Texas border. Hispanics would have accounted for a majority of the population.

House: The plan would have preserved all eastern New Mexico districts. Republicans objected that it paired two GOP incumbents in Albuquerque, Rob Burpo and Larry Larranaga, rather than Democrats in slow-growing areas of the city. A GOP-leaning district would have been created on the city's fast-growing West Side. The governor vetoed an earlier House redistricting proposal that paired GOP lawmakers.

Senate: The measure would have eliminated a seat in eastern New Mexico, forcing Republican Sens. Rod Adair of Roswell and Shirley Bailey of Hobbs into the same district. It also would have paired two Albuquerque Republicans, Mark Boitano and Diane Snyder, but created a new GOP-leaning seat on the city's West Side. Republicans objected that the plan was too close to one previously vetoed by the governor.

Board of Education: The plan was similar to a map backed by the board. Six Democrats and four Republicans are in elective seats on the board. Johnson said there were seven safe Democratic seats under the plan he vetoed.

Albuquerque Tribune
Governor Did Like One Map: The One Sent in Error
By Gilbert Gallegos
October 4, 2001

A legislative mistake while drawing new political maps could end up hurting Democrats.

Legislators discovered this week that they mixed up two maps for the state Public Regulation Commission during the hectic final hours of last month's special session.

Legislators thought they passed a bill that gave Democrats an advantage to capture three of the five PRC seats.

But the bill that passed was a different version - one that creates two Democrat-leaning districts, two Republican-leaning districts and a fifth, swing district.

Johnson signed the PRC bill Wednesday, saying it passed his criteria for being "fair and competitive."

Sen. Michael Sanchez said the committee that deals with the bill sent the wrong version to the full House and Senate for approval.

"I don't know how or when it happened, but we signed the wrong report," said Sanchez, a Belen Democrat who was a member of the conference committee.

Sanchez sent a letter to Johnson this week to let the governor know about the mistake. Republicans had urged Johnson to veto the original version of the bill.

But House Minority Leader Ted Hobbs said he changed his tune after learning about the mistake.

Associated Press
New Mexico Governor Vetoes Redistricting Plan
By Barry Massey
October 4, 2001

Republican Gov. Gary Johnson vetoed a redistricting plan Wednesday that Democrats had passed in an effort to help their party win another House seat.

Although Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state, Republicans have held two of New Mexico's three House seats for nearly 20 years.

"Hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless man-hours were wasted in a process that forgot the voter and remembered only partisanship and egotistical bickering. The people of New Mexico deserve better," Johnson said.

The veto, widely expected by state lawmakers, set the stage for a court clash over how to draw new boundaries. Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero said he hoped judges would not decide the makeup of political districts.

"Compromise occurs when both sides recognize that neither can control the process. I still strongly believe that redistricting is a legislative and not a judicial process," Romero said in a statement.

The proposals also would have changed the state's 42 Senate districts and 70 House districts. Republicans said the changes would likely have cost them seats.

Currently, Democrats hold a 24-18 edge in the state Senate and a 42-28 advantage in the state House. There are 1.6 registered Democrats in New Mexico for every Republican, according to voter registration figures.

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
October 1, 2001

The Land of Retirement?

Eleven-term Rep. Joe Skeen (R-N.M.) is urging New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R) to veto a Democratic House map or else he will likely retire in 2002, state GOP sources said last week.

The House map approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature would turn Skeen's 2nd district into a Democrat-leaning, Hispanic-majority district, stretching from Albuquerque to Las Cruces and other southern areas.

Skeen spokeswoman Selma Sierra denied that the Congressman was urging a veto. She said he has "not made a determination whether he'll make another run or retire." Republicans would be packed into an eastern 1st district that would include GOP Rep. Heather Wilson' s North Valley residence in Albuquerque.

While a spokesman last month said Johnson would veto a House map that jeopardized Wilson or Skeen, the governor has since backed off that threat and urged state lawmakers to draw a fair map. It was unclear Friday whether Johnson would sign the Legislature's map into law.

Roll Call
Between the Lines
By Chris Cillizza
September 24, 2001

Bad News for Skeen

The Democratic-controlled New Mexico Legislature passed a plan Thursday that would endanger the re-election prospects of Rep. Joe Skeen (R) while shoring up Reps. Heather Wilson (R)and Tom Udall (D).

The plan could give Democrats a 2-to-1 edge in the delegation after the 2002 elections. Republicans currently hold two of the three seats. It puts Wilson in a seat that covers almost all of eastern New Mexico and is solidly Republican. It gives Skeen much of the area south of Albuquerque.

Both Skeen and Wilson have been monitoring the process from afar and Wilson's chief of staff has been at the session since it opened Sept. 4.

"We are just trying to work with them to preserve all the districts as they should be preserved," said Skeen spokeswoman Selma Sierra.

Wilson has maintained throughout the process that her goal is to have a district that is "fair to all New Mexicans."

Gov. Gary Johnson (R), who has veto power over any plan, has said only that he wants a fair proposal brought to his desk. Republicans in the Legislature expect he will veto the recently approved plan.

Albuquerque Tribune
Redistricting Followed a Map to Acrimony
By Gilbert Gallegos
September 21, 2001

From the beginning to the contentious end of the special legislative session, Democrats and Republicans played by different rules as they failed to agree to new political boundaries.

Tired and irritated, legislators adjourned late Thursday night, frustrated by the likelihood that plans they passed - part of the once-a-decade redistricting process to accommodate population shifts tracked by the census - are probably headed for vetoes.

House Speaker Ben Lujan, a Nambe Democrat, said Republican Gov. Gary Johnson set the tone for doomed redistricting negotiations when he created an unrealistic political goal for legislators.

The governor demanded "competitive" district boundaries for Congress, the state House and Senate, Public Regulation Commission and state Board of Education. Lujan said that in reality the governor wanted Democrats to give up power.

"The compromise we were being asked to agree to was simply, turn over the majority to the minority," said Lujan. "And I don't think that we could, in all good sense and responsibility, do that."

Republicans, including Johnson, complained that Democrats ignored political reality by shooting for "status quo" plans that aimed to keep the balance of power tilted in their direction.

Republicans, who are outnumbered in both the House and Senate, said they deserved a chance at picking up seats. House Minority Leader Ted Hobbs argued that Republicans were never truly invited to the negotiating table. Democrats, he said, ran the show in defiance of Johnson's veto power.

"There was no dialogue. And there was no compromising," said Hobbs, an Albuquerque Republican. "Compromising means both sides have a part in the discussion."

An aide to the governor said Johnson felt he spelled out exactly how Democrats could have avoided more vetoes.

But legislators didn't bite.

"I think we're really stunned," said Dave Miller, the governor's legislative liaison. "They (legislators) may not have sent us anything we can really sign."

Although legislative leaders tried to work out their differences during the 18-day session, it was apparent from the start that they were also laying the groundwork for a court battle.

Republicans insisted on recording committee meetings. And at every turn, GOP legislators repeated claims of Democratic dominance over the process.

Democrats charged that Republicans were exaggerating, simply trying to create a record they could later use in court.

Sure enough, four Republican legislators joined several New Mexico voters in filing lawsuits last week over redistricting.

Keying off rhetoric used during debates, the lawsuits charged Democrats with drawing illegal plans, ensuring an "unfair partisan advantage throughout the next decade."

But Democrats were also looking ahead to the possibility of court action each time they avoided direct talk about partisan advantages of different maps.

Most Democratic-sponsored plans were presented to legislative committees as being "defensible in court."

Two Democratic legislators also joined several voters in lawsuits meant to compel an agreement between lawmakers and the governor.

Sen. Michael Sanchez conceded during the Senate's final debate Thursday that legislators were probably motivated too much by party politics, as opposed to finding a middle ground.

Others disagreed, saying they set aside politics.

For example, legislators paid close attention to drawing boundaries intended to keep communities intact and protect the rights of minority voters.

But in the end, most of the disagreement in each of the major plans centered around the number of Democrats versus the number of Republicans.

"We are forced to vote in the name of our party as opposed to what we know is right in our hearts," said Sanchez, a Belen Democrat.

A few minutes later, Sanchez voted with his Democratic colleagues in passing the final plan of the night - a Democrat-sponsored set of boundaries for state Senate districts that Sanchez knew was headed for a veto.

"I hope that we don't go to court," he said. "But everybody's telling us we're going to go to court. We just got off on the wrong foot."

District maps divide city, pit Republicans against each other.

Here are the general layouts of redistricting measures the Legislature passed in the special session that ended Thursday:


The bill sent to the governor would radically realign the state's three congressional districts.

Albuquerque would share portions of all three districts. The Northeast Heights, for example, would anchor the 1st District, stretching into eastern New Mexico; the 2nd District would include the West Mesa, South Valley and most of the North Valley and meander down the Rio Grande into southern New Mexico; and the 3rd District would still pick up the Northwest Mesa, including Paradise Hills, while covering most of Northern New Mexico.

Republicans complain that Democrats are trying to create a heavily Hispanic district in southern New Mexico just to drum up more votes for a Democratic candidate. The plan would give Democrats the edge in two of the three districts.

Republicans currently hold two seats; Democrats represent one.

State House:

The most controversial part of the plan for new House districts is the decision to shift Rep. Rob Burpo's seat from the far Northeast Heights to the West Side to reflect the massive growth in population there.

Burpo, a Republican, is expected to run for governor, which is why Democrats targeted his seat for elimination.

But Republicans said Democrats should have axed one of a handful of Democratic seats in slow-growing central Albuquerque, near the University area.

The plan did not hurt any Republicans in eastern New Mexico, as previous proposals would have done, but it also meant that fast-growing Doža Ana County didn't get a new seat.

State Senate:

Unlike the House plan, the new map for the Senate pits Republicans in southeast New Mexico against one another to make room for a new seat in the north-central part of the state.

Sen. Rod Adair, a Roswell Republican, would face off with Sen. Shirley Bailey, a Hobbs Republican, under the plan.

In Albuquerque, Republican Sens. Diane Snyder and Mark Boitano would be paired in the same Northeast Heights District so a new Senate seat could be created in Rio Rancho.

Public Regulation Commission:

The biggest change is in Albuquerque, where lines were drawn so Republicans no longer have an edge. The makeup would now give Democrats and Republicans a near-even chance at winning.

Republicans, who now hold two of the five PRC seats, argued that Democrats gave themselves a good chance at winning four seats next year.

Emergency money:

Legislators met briefly in a second special session Thursday to approve money the governor requested for projects.

The money - about $4 million - goes to the state Board of Finance to pay for litigation with Texas over water, repairing the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad, prosecution efforts in San Juan County and other emergency projects.

Santa Fe New Mexican
House Passes Plan for Congressional Redistricting
By Steve Terrell and Jonathan McDonald
September 19, 2001

As time and money are beginning to run out for the special session of the state Legislature, the state House passed a plan drawing new districts for New Mexico's three U.S. Congress districts, while a Senate committee recommended a similar plan.

The House also passed a new redistricting bill for itself to replace the one vetoed over the weekend by Republican Gov. Gary Johnson.

However, as almost all votes during the special session, those on the Congressional and House plans were along mostly partisan lines, and most predicted vetoes in the near future.

Meanwhile, the specter of the courts ultimately deciding the fate of redistricting loomed as two groups of Republicans filed lawsuits against the state - one in federal court, one in state court - asking for judicial intervention in redistricting Congressional and state legislative boundaries.

However, some senators on both sides of the aisle continued working behind the scenes to come up with compromises on redistricting plans.

After speaking of heated discussions in the Democratic caucus, Senate President Pro-tem Richard Romero said, "A lot of senators in the caucus are not sure that going to court is a good idea."

"I don't see this as a realistic plan," said Rep. Joe Thompson, R-Albuquerque, said of the Congressional plan, noting it would likely turn District 1 into a Democratic-controlled seat. "It won't even be a toss-up."

However, Democratic Whip James Taylor of Albuquerque said the plan is "spreading the jewels of New Mexico" across the three congressional districts.

Republicans say the House plan would hurt U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson from Albuquerque, who holds the District 1 seat, while the Senate plan would hurt U.S. Rep. Joe Skeen from southern New Mexico's District 2. Both are Republicans.

The redistricting proposal passed by the House splits Albuquerque's urban area into the three Congressional districts.

District 1 would include southern New Mexico from Hidalgo County to Eddy County and then go up the Rio Grande corridor through Albuquerque's South Valley.

District 2 would encompass most of eastern New Mexico, from Lea County north to Union County and then twist westward to include Lincoln and Chaves counties along with eastern and central Albuquerque.

Northern New Mexico and chunks of western New Mexico including Catron, Cibola and McKinley counties plus largely unincorporated portions of Albuquerque's Paradise Hills area would make up the Democratic stronghold of District 3, which Democrat Tom Udall's currently represents.

Two Republican representatives - Jeanette Wallace of Los Alamos and Sandra Townsend of Aztec - joined Democrats to pass the new House redistricting plan, House Republicans who voted against the new plan said the new version was similar to the vetoed one.

Like that plan, two senior Albuquerque Republicans, Reps. George Buffet and Pauline Gubbels would be in the same district.

However, unlike the vetoed plan, the new plan preserved the seats of all east-side Republicans, Rep. Roger Madelena, D-Jemez Pueblo said.

Each of the lawsuits was filed Monday by a group of plaintiffs that included a Republican senator, a House member and Hispanic and Indian citizens. Both suits claim plans backed by the Democratic majority violate the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The suits also claim the vetoed legislative plans protected incumbent Democrats and did away with the districts of several Republican legislators.

Last week, a group of Democrats, including two legislators, filed lawsuits in state courts asking them to intervene.

But some Senators on both sides are working quietly to avoid court battles over redistricting.

Romero said many senators have a "sense of urgency" about acting on plans that might be signed by Johnson. However, he said, "I think, if we don't get it done by Thursday, we probably won't get it done.

Senate Republican leader Stuart Ingle of Portales said he remains optimistic that compromises could take shape.

"We're trying to avoid (going to court)," he said in a joint radio interview with Romero. "The cases I've seen where courts decide on redistricting, it creates problems for incumbents."

Sen. Joe Carraro, R-Albuquerque, on Tuesday charged Udall had lobbied Democratic senators to kill a Carraro Congressional plan that would have taken Rio Rancho and Paradise Hills out of Udall's district.

Carraro said two Democratic senators had told him Udall didn't want to lose those heavily Anglo areas northwest of Albuquerque because it might make it more attractive for a Hispanic candidate to oppose him in the primary.

The Senate Rules Committee voted down the Carraro plan over the weekend.

Amanda Cooper, a Udall staffer who attended a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, denied Carraro's allegations. "Tom's had Hispanic primary opponents," she said. "He's run against Republican, Greens, everyone. He leads the Democratic Party in votes."

Democratic senators denied Udall had ever asked them to spike any particular plan.

Romero said he had been contacted by both Udall and Wilson regarding redistricting near the beginning of the session.

"Udall didn't talk about anything like that," Romero said. "I'm sure he'd rather keep those areas though. He does well in them."

Associated Press
Democrats Begin Shaping New House Redistricting Plan
By Barry Massey and Deborah Baker
September 17, 2001

Democrats returned to the redistricting drawing board on Sunday to begin fashioning a plan for new House districts that they hope can win bipartisan support.

House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, said Democrats were trying to develop a plan acceptable to Republican Gov. Gary Johnson, who vetoed the first redistricting maps for the House and Senate.

A revised House proposal could be ready for consideration by lawmakers today, Lujan said.

On Sunday, the House and Senate essentially marched in place.

The House briefly debated two proposals for drawing new boundaries of the 70 House seats but they were returned to a committee rather than advancing them to final roll-call votes on the floor.

Emotions ran high at one point in the House session, prompting Republicans to leave the floor in protest.

Rep. Larry Larranaga, R-Albuquerque, was fielding questions during debate about a bill he sponsored. Republicans sought to procedurally end the debate and send the bill back to a committee. Democrats objected.

Larranaga then announced he could stay no longer for the debate because he had to leave to attend the rosary of his mother-in-law.

Democrats suggested that one of the bill's GOP co-sponsors take over and answer questions about the proposal. But House GOP Leader Ted Hobbs of Albuquerque refused, saying no Republican would do so because debate should have ended out of respect for Larranaga.

Later, after Republicans returned to the floor, GOP Whip Earlene Roberts of Lovington, told her colleagues: "If this body cannot show the respect they need to one of our members, Mr. Speaker, from now on you can bet from this side of aisle (Republican side) it will not be shown."

A Democratic-sponsored bill also was shipped back to committee. That had been the original plan of the Democratic leadership - debate both bills but not vote on them.

On Saturday, Johnson vetoed Democratic-backed bills for House and Senate redistricting, calling them an "obvious political gerrymander."

Lujan said the starting point for the new proposal was a map the House approved last week but later was abandoned in favor of the more Democratic-leaning measure that Johnson vetoed.

"We just feel what we initially proposed was a pretty fair proposal," said Lujan.

Currently, Republicans hold 28 of the 70 House seats. Democrats contended that at least 30 districts favored Republicans under their initial plan, which is being revised. That plan retained all seats in eastern New Mexico and created a new seat in western Albuquerque. The toughest task in revising the plan is deciding where to merge seats in the Albuquerque area, which is necessary to create the west side district.

"I think the debate is centering on Albuquerque," Hobbs said of efforts to develop a new House redistricting plan. "Somebody is going to get paired. So we're going to go back and forth until we get that resolved."

There was testiness in the Senate, as well, where Republicans on the Judiciary Committee objected that Democrats were trying to hurry through a new redistricting plan for the Public Regulation Commission.

Discussion of the proposal was delayed until Monday after the GOP members said they hadn't had time to study it and prepare amendments.

The proposed remap could give the Albuquerque district - and possibly four of five districts statewide - to Democrats.

Sen. William Payne, R-Albuquerque, objected that his northeast heights district would be sliced in two, with some of those residents put into the same district as Jal, in the far southeastern corner of the state.

Currently, two PRC districts are majority Republican - Albuquerque and the east side. Two are Democrat - in the north central and northwest - and a southwestern, swing district is also represented by a Democrat.

Under the plan proposed by Sen. Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque, only the east-side seat would remain strongly Republican, with the southwestern district still fairly evenly split.

"I think Bernalillo County ought to be a more competitive race," Feldman said. "Right now Bernalillo County is a very safe Republican district, and yet there's a huge number of registered Democrats in Bernalillo County."

Associated Press
House, Senate Redistricting Plans Vetoed by Johnson
By Deborah Baker
September 16, 2001

Republican Gov. Gary Johnson on Saturday vetoed House and Senate redistricting plans, saying they were designed to give Democrats an unfair advantage through the next decade.

He called each plan "an obvious partisan gerrymander."

"The party whose candidates receive a majority of our citizens' votes should have an opportunity to elect a majority of the Legislature.

This plan does not even come close to meeting that test," Johnson wrote in each of the veto messages.

Republicans had complained the plans backed by the majority would cost them seats.

"We'll just go back to the drawing board and try to fashion something that the Republicans in the Senate can buy into," said Senate President Pro-Tem Richard Romero, D-Albuquerque.

House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Namb╚, said the House would try to come up with "Plan B," and that he planned to meet today with the House GOP leader, Ted Hobbs of Albuquerque.

Lawmakers have been in session since Sept. 4 to redraw the district boundaries for members of the Legislature, Congress, the state Board of Education and the state Public Regulation Commission.

The legislative plans were the first to be sent to Johnson, who vetoed them within 24 hours.

"Raw party politics is not a proper basis for plan drafting even if the plan it created satisfied the mandates of federal law," the governor said.

Lujan said he hoped redistricting could be completed by Tuesday; Romero said he thought it could be done by the end of the week, if not sooner.

The vetoes had been expected, and Democrats already have gone to state district court to ask a judge to take over the process if Johnson and the Legislature cannot reach agreement.

Republicans contend that because of voting trends and recent population shifts, they should have more legislative seats. They now have 28 of the House's 70 seats and 18 of the Senate's 42. The vetoed plans would have reduced their numbers, they said.

Democrats say the party breakdown in the Legislature roughly reflects the state's Democrat-Republican voter registration breakdown.

Lujan said the House would try to send Johnson a bill that was "a little bit better balanced" - but not necessarily along party lines.

The governor complained that both plans diminished the voting strength of Indians and Lujan said the House would try to increase Indian districts.

Johnson also objected that the Senate plan did away with an east-side Republican seat "and unfairly pairs over 20 percent of the Republican caucus." He said Albuquerque Sens. Mark Boitano and Diane Snyder were forced into the same, new district "resembling a science-fiction movie ray gun stretching across the Heights area of the city."

The plan also put Sens. Rod Adair of Roswell and Shirley Bailey of Hobbs into the same district.

The House map, Johnson said, dealt with Albuquerque population shifts by sacrificing a Republican seat - rather than a Democratic seat in areas where incumbent Democrats' districts had slower population growth.

The governor singled out the seat of longtime Rep. Max Coll, D-Santa Fe, saying the Hispanic voting-age population was reduced, leaving "an artificial island of opportunity ... for an Anglo Democrat candidate that should not exist under traditional redistricting criteria."

"The vetoed plan breaks up the agricultural community of interest in the central Pecos Valley between Roswell and Artesia and gerrymanders itself through the center of the city of Roswell," Johnson also said.

Santa Fe New Mexican
Redistricting Plans Get Final Approval
By Steve Terrell
September 15, 2001

As Republicans in the state Legislature cried foul Friday, the Senate and the House of Representatives gave final approval to redistricting plans that most say are certain to be vetoed by Republican Gov. Gary Johnson.

On straight-party votes with all present Republicans voting no, the Senate passed a House redistricting bill while the House passed a Senate redistricting bill.

Sen. Carol Leavell, R-Jal, said that former Sen. Billy McKibbon, a Republican from Hobbs, had told him: "You will see politics in its rawest form. And I'm seeing it today with this House redistricting."

Johnson's legislative liaison, Dave Miller, said Friday that Johnson probably would have a decision on whether to sign or veto the bills by this afternoon. By law, he has until Tuesday.

House Republican Leader Ted Hobbs of Albuquerque complained that the redistricting process had turned out to be a "dog-eat-dog process."

Referring to the House plan, which the House passed Thursday, Hobbs said, "I guess my only option now is to find a boulder big enough to stop that steamroller."

It was no secret he was referring to Johnson. In recent days, Hobbs has referred to the governor as "my hammer on the fourth floor.

House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Namb╦, insisted the House plan was fair and reflected growth patterns in the state documented by the 2000 U.S. Census.

He told Hobbs that Democrats have had to live under threats of veto since before the session started.

In the Senate plan, two sets of incumbent GOP senators would be pitted against each other - Rod Adair of Roswell versus Shirley Bailey of Hobbs and Albuquerque's Diane Snyder versus Mark Boitano.

The Senate plan creates a new district containing most of Los Alamos and rural parts of Santa Fe County and a new west-side Albuquerque district.

The House also pits two Albuquerque Republican legislators (George Buffet and Pauline Gubbels) and two east-side lawmakers (Anna Crook of Clovis and Brian Moore of Clayton) against each other.

The House plan creates a new west-side Albuquerque district and a new district in the Las Cruces area.

Sen. Don Kidd, R-Carlsbad, speaking at the Senate Rules Committee, repeated most of the complaints House Republicans voiced about the plan the day before.

But Kidd had an accusation not heard before - that three of the jeopardized Republicans - Buffett, Gubbels and Crook - were all opponents of gambling.

"That's surely an absolute coincidence," Kidd said sarcastically.

Ben Lujan vehemently denied that charge. "I almost fell off my chair when he said that," he later told reporters.

Lujan said Buffett and Gubbells "live a couple of blocks from each other" in a section of Albuquerque that hasn't kept up with population growth.

Sen. Leonard Tsosie, D-Crownpoint, agreed the gambling issue had never come up during redistricting discussions. "These guys have too much time dreaming up coincidences," he said.

Republicans say Democrats just as easily could have paired two of their own members in that part of Albuquerque.

There were a few minutes of levity in the Senate after Senate Republican Whip Leonard Lee Rawson of Las Cruces introduced a memorial to four GOP senators he said are likely to lose their seats in the 2004 under the approved redistricting plan.

One of those senators, Allen Hurt of Waterflow, recited what he called "my own obituary," describing himself as "a kind and civil man with a good heart and a strong liver."

Another one of the senators Rawson said was likely to lose was Leavell, who said, "The report of my demise is premature." He noted that his district, drawn up as a "minority district" by a court in 1991, had demographics not ideal for a conservative white Republican. "I ran against the demographics before, and I'll do it again," he said.

Sen. Manny Aragon, D-Albuquerque, said the farewell memorial was unnecessary. Referring to the expected veto from Johnson, Aragon said, "They'll be back already by tomorrow morning."

The memorial was voted down. As with most other votes in the special session, it went along party lines.

The Legislature is expected to begin work on Congressional plans today.

Albuquerque Tribune
Dems Send Compromise to Johnson
By Gilbert Gallegos
September 13, 2001

Democrats understand Republicans aren't bluffing on their threats to oppose any redistricting plan that limits the GOP's chances to gain more seats in the Legislature.

But Democrats aren't cowed.

Instead, they are sending maps to Gov. Gary Johnson that they believe are the best shot at compromise - however much Republicans may disagree.

The House, voting mostly along party lines, passed a Democrat-sponsored plan Wednesday evening that aims to keep the political balance of power about the same. Two Republicans, Reps. Jeannette Wallace of Los Alamos and Sandra Townsend of Aztec, voted with Democrats to pass the plan.

Rep. Fred Luna, a Los Lunas Democrat, was excused from the vote; Rep. John Sanchez, a North Valley Republican, was absent.

Under the proposed boundaries, Democrats would conceivably keep a 42-28 majority, although a handful of swing districts could go to either party.

Rep. Gail Beam, an Albuquerque Democrat, said the majority party could have passed another plan that heavily favored Democrats, although she acknowledged Johnson, a Republican, probably would have vetoed such a plan.

Democrats argue their plan, sponsored by House Speaker Ben Lujan, is a fair compromise for two basic reasons:

It keeps all Republican seats on the East Side of the state intact. Many Democrats had wanted to scrap one of those seats and create a new Democrat-leaning district in fast-growing Dona Ana County.

The plan does shift a Republican-leaning district out of Albuquerque's far Northeast Heights. But Republicans would presumably have the advantage in the new District 23 because it would be carved out of a predominantly Republican area of the West Side, which includes part of Paradise Hills.

Rep. Rob Burpo, the Republican who currently represents District 23, blasted Democrats for moving his Northeast Heights neighborhoods into other districts in order to make the map work on the West Side.

Burpo said it would have made more sense to move a Democratic district from the University Area, where population has not kept pace with statewide growth.

He suggested Democrats sacrificed his district because he may not run again for a legislative seat. Burpo is exploring a run for the Republican nomination for governor next year.

"There's a reason why I have not announced formally as a candidate (for governor) because I strongly believe it is in my best interest to represent the best interests of my constituents," Burpo said. "By eliminating their district . . . I think that is a travesty, quite frankly, to the constituents of my district."

Nevertheless, Democrats said assuming Burpo runs for governor, their plan would guarantee all other Republican and Democratic incumbents a chance to keep their seats.

Perhaps more important, Democrats said, is their belief the plan will withstand legal challenges if Republicans follow through with threats to let the issue play out in court.

House Minority Leader Ted Hobbs reiterated Wednesday that he will urge the governor to veto the plan because he feels it's not fair to Republicans.

"I'll recommend veto," said Hobbs, an Albuquerque Republican. "Every now and then he (Johnson) pays attention to me."

If the governor vetoes the legislative plans, the Democrats' only choices would be to try again for another compromise or wait and take their chances in court.

The House plan will head to the Senate plan as soon as today, when the Senate will attempt to complete work on a plan for its districts.

The House plan is expected to be passed when it reaches the Senate, just as the Senate plan will probably be passed by the House because of a gentleman's agreement not to make changes to the respective chamber's map.

The Senate plan, prepared by Democratic leaders in that chamber, was passed earlier Wednesday by the Senate Rules Committee.

The full Senate could vote on the plan today after the Judiciary Committee considers legal questions in the bill.

New Mexican
Democrats say redistricting could wait
By Steve Terrell
September 07, 2001

Angered by threats by Republican Gov. Gary Johnson to veto certain redistricting plans, two state senators said Thursday that the Legislature could wait for a Democratic governor to be elected before the Senate redistricts itself.

Sen. Roman Maes, D-Santa Fe, told the Senate Rules Committee the Legislature does not have to act until early 2004 on new Senate districts, since senators are not up for election until that year. The state Legislature is meeting in special session to create new congressional, legislative and other state political districts.

"We don't have to come up with a plan for the Senate during this special session," Maes said.

However, Maes noted that the Legislature will have to approve state House and congressional plans because those positions will be on the ballot in 2002.

Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose, agreed with Maes: "We can come back later when we have a Democratic governor, a governor not predisposed to veto any plan that doesn't protect one certain congressional seat and two east-side (state) Senate seats."

The governor's election will be held next year. Johnson, who cannot seek re-election, will leave office at the end of 2002. Through an aide, Johnson said any failure to produce a Senate plan could end up in litigation. The governor "views that as throwing in the towel and handing the redistricting pen over to the courts," said Dave Miller, Johnson's legislative liaison.

However, the threat to delay might be more a symbolic threat than an actual possibility.  Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, said the Democratic Caucus had discussed the idea the night before Maes and Griego dropped their bomb at the Rules Committee. 

"But I think the consensus was to go forward and come up with a redistricting plan," Rodriguez said.

But a deputy state attorney general said Thursday that "at first blush" Maes and Griego might be correct about not having to redistrict the Senate this year.

"This just came to my attention today," Stuart Bluestone said. "We haven't done any research on it yet." % Although he made public the idea of waiting to redistrict the Senate, Maes said after the meeting, "I hope it doesn't come to that. The dilemma is that everyone is pulling their sword out and making threats."

Democrats have been angry with Johnson because of statements Miller made recently. Miller has said Johnson is likely to veto any congressional redistricting plan he thinks would threaten U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, a Republican who lives in Albuquerque.

Johnson and his aides have made it clear he is not afraid to veto any redistricting plan he does not find "fair and competitive."

"I question the attitude of the governor, and I question the intelligence of making such statements at this point," Maes said. "All it has done is to bring chaos and confusion. It's very confrontational and very unnecessary."

Commenting Thursday, Miller said, "We spend four months on committee meetings all around the state. We spend $400,000 on (consultant Brian) Sanderoff. They just passed a feed bill for $691,000 (to cover expenses of the special session). There are 35 or 40 bills in the hopper. And the Democrats want to take their marbles and go home."

Miller reiterated his previous statements that Democrats were not used to having a Republican governor in office during redistricting. Gov. Bruce King, a Democrat, was in power during the redistricting sessions from the 1970s through the 1990s.

"There's a new sheriff in town, and they don't like it," Miller said.

But on a conciliatory note, Miller said, "I think maybe we should just all go to Zozobra, watch Old Man Gloom burn and start afresh tomorrow morning."

Senators from both sides of the aisle reacted strongly to Maes' suggestion to wait for a Democratic governor to take office before redistricting the Senate.

Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, accused Maes and Griego of "threatening us with a 500-pound gorilla of a governor." State Republican Chairman John Dendahl recently referred to likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Richardson as a "1,000-pound gorilla."

Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, said, "In my district, I think voters would be very annoyed if we did that. Speaking for myself as a voter, I would be annoyed."

However, Smith agreed with Maes and Griego that Johnson's veto threats had made the redistricting process more contentious than it would have been otherwise.

"The governor should shift back to a position of open-mindedness," Smith said.

Sen. Dianna Duran, R-Tularosa, said that delaying a Senate plan "would be doing a disservice to the citizens of our state. It would get the people back home disappointed in us for wasting taxpayers' money."

Sen. Ramsey Gorham, R-Albuquerque, said Democrats would be "holding the voters hostage" if they delayed redistricting the Senate.

"Then talk to your governor," Griego said. "If we're not being held hostage by (veto threats), I don't know what holding a hostage is."

Gorham defended Johnson, saying he was elected because people wanted a governor unafraid of challenging the Legislature.

The New Mexican
State legislators get down to business
By Steve Terrell
September 06, 2001

Speaker of the House Ben Lujan denied Republican charges Wednesday that Democrats in the New Mexico Legislature were trying to hurt Republican Heather Wilson's chances of holding on to her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"There has never been any discussions about Heather Wilson," Lujan, D-Namb╚, said on the second day of the Legislature's special redistricting session. "We are disturbed to hear that we are trying to do away with Heather Wilson's seat."

However, while there had been no public discussions by Democrats about the matter, House Minority Leader Ted Hobbs, R-Albuquerque, said on Wednesday that he stood by his original contention that five of the nine congressional plans being considered by the Legislature would hurt Wilson, who is from Albuquerque.

"I looked at all the plans, and I said that five of the plans passed by the committee go after Heather Wilson," Hobbs said.

Meanwhile state Sen. Manny Aragon, D-Albuquerque, blasted Gov. Gary Johnson's administration for a statement by a Johnson aide indicating the governor might veto any plan that split Albuquerque and decreased Wilson's re-election chances.

Aragon said it was "maybe un-American and certainly un-New Mexican" that Johnson would be talking about vetoes on the first day of the special session.

"I, for one, am happy that this governor's term will end in about a year," Aragon said.

Johnson's legislative liaison, Dave Miller, told reporters Tuesday that Johnson thought several congressional plans would damage Wilson and might veto any such bill.

On Wednesday, Miller said Aragon was not used to the fact that Johnson, not Bruce King, was governor. "Gary is informed and engaged," Miller said. "My impression of Bruce was that his attitude was 'whatever you boys come up with is OK by me.' "

King, a Democrat, was governor during the last three redistrictings in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Lujan and Senate President Pro-tem Richard Romero called a news conference Wednesday and took the unusual step of inviting Republican Hobbs. Although cordial, Lujan sometimes seemed to take the role of reporter, asking questions of Hobbs.

Lujan and Romero, D-Albuquerque, also denied that there was any deal between Johnson and Democrats tying a tax-cut bill the governor wants with redistricting.

On Tuesday, Hobbs talked to Johnson about rumors the governor was talking to Democrats about a deal in which he would not veto a plan that would weaken Wilson in exchange for a tax decrease.

Miller denied Tuesday any such plan was in the works, but said he hoped to have an agreement with Democrats by the end of the special session to take up a tax decrease at a future session.

Aragon tore into Johnson both at a Senate Rules Committee meeting in the morning and later before the full Senate.

"I see the governor is continuing with his little agenda," Aragon said. "If this is how it really is, I'm not going to waste my time." He asked whether Johnson expected legislators to "just go up and ask him what he wants, and we just go along?"

"The die's been cast," Aragon said. "We'll have to stand up to these people. Whoever's left will have to stand up to these people and go to court or do what we have to do to stand up for one man/one vote in New Mexico."

Miller said Johnson is ready to go to court if necessary over any veto. Miller said Wednesday he purposely "planted a political stake" by making his statements on Tuesday. He said Johnson wanted to provide leadership and let everyone knew where he stood from the outset of the session.

"I was drawing lines, not throwing down gauntlets," Miller said. He said Johnson was aware of legal requirements involving protecting minority voters and "communities of interest."

But - using one of the governor's favorite recent buzz words - Miller said Johnson also wants to create districts that are "competitive."

By this, he said, Johnson wants fewer districts that have uncontested elections.

However, Lujan said, "competitiveness is like beauty. It's in the eye of the beholder."

Albuquerque Journal
Wilson Re-Election a Priority for Gov.
By Loie Fecteau
September 5, 2001

Republican Gov. Gary Johnson is likely to veto any congressional redistricting plan that splits Albuquerque voters and jeopardizes Rep. Heather Wilson's re-election chances, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Wilson is the Republican incumbent in the 1st Congressional District, which currently encompasses much of the Albuquerque area.

"He (Johnson) is going to step up to the plate and really demonstrate his loyalty to the party," said Dave Miller, Johnson's legislative liaison, as the Legislature began a special session to redraw state voting districts using the 2000 census.

"He's going to be open-minded, but at this point he doesn't see the logic in splitting up Albuquerque," Miller said.

Johnson was told by a Washington, D.C., redistricting consultant, that, "Control of the (U.S.) House may come down to a handful of votes, and this is one of those votes," Miller said.

"This is really important nationally," he said.

Miller's comments came after the governor conferred with Mark Braden, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and redistricting expert hired by the state Republican Party; state Republican Party chairman John Dendahl; Mickey Barnett, New Mexico's Republican national committeeman; and House Minority Leader Ted Hobbs, R-Albuquerque.

New Mexico's three U.S. House districts are among the political boundaries that legislators will revise in the once-a-decade redistricting process.

State lawmakers also will redraw the boundaries of all 112 legislative districts, 10 state Board of Education districts, five Public Regulation Commission districts, and a couple of magistrate districts in San Juan County.

House Majority Leader Danice Picraux, D-Albuquerque, said legislators first will tackle the voting district maps for the Legislature because "we know them best."

Senate Majority Leader Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, said lawmakers hoped to approve and send Johnson maps showing new boundaries for the 42 Senate and 70 House districts by the weekend.

"I think we can probably get to some agreements pretty quickly on those," Jennings said, referring to the 112 legislative districts. "I don't think it will be the real problem the congressional districts are going to be."

Hobbs said he asked Johnson on Tuesday to veto any congressional plan that splits Albuquerque and threatens Wilson.

Hobbs said five of nine congressional plans forwarded to the Legislature by the interim Redistricting Committee split Albuquerque voters among the three congressional districts, thus hurting Wilson. For example, in two of the plans Wilson would have to run in the 3rd District with Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., the 3rd District incumbent.

"The five plans that went through put her at major risk," Hobbs said.

House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, said Tuesday that no redistricting plan is "written in stone" at this point.

At Hobbs' urging, Johnson agreed Tuesday not to cut deals with lawmakers on redistricting and other issues, such as a personal income tax cut, Hobbs and Miller said.

"I don't want anybody to think there will be horse trading on these decisions," Hobbs said.

As promised, Johnson put only the issue of redistricting on the agenda for the special session, which is expected to last about two weeks.

But Johnson plans to continue negotiations with lawmakers to try to reach a compromise on a personal income tax cut, Miller said. If that occurs, Johnson would call lawmakers into a second special session after they finish work on redistricting.

Amarillo Globe-News
Legislature Given Legislative Redistricting Plans
August 31, 2001

A legislative study committee decided Thursday to postpone the inevitable partisan fights over redistricting until the Legislature meets next week in a special session.

The interim Redistricting Committee took a buffet-style approach to its job: suggesting several options to the full Legislature to consider in drawing new boundaries of the 70 House districts and 42 Senate districts.

Seven legislative redistricting proposals will be introduced as bills during the special session - three plans for the House and four options for the Senate. The proposals were reviewed by the committee at meetings held across the state during the summer.

The panel's proposals won't be the only legislative redistricting plans that surface during the special session, however. Individual lawmakers can introduce redistricting bills and other groups can ask lawmakers to put forward their plans.

The Legislature convenes next Tuesday in a special session that's expected to last 10 days to two weeks. Lawmakers must draw new boundaries of congressional, legislative, state Board of Education and Public Regulation Commission districts and several magistrate court districts. The goal is to equalize district populations using new population figures from the 2000 census.

The committee is offering these choices to the Legislature for the House and Senate: at least one "status quo" plan that makes as few boundary changes as possible to balance district populations; one plan that generally favors Republicans; and one plan that tends to benefit Democrats.

House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, said the committee wanted to offer options to the Legislature rather than endorse just one proposal each for the House and Senate. The proposed redistricting maps before the committee can be viewed on the Legislature's Web site.

Proposals the committee is forwarding to the Legislature:

Concept B is considered the status quo proposal because it doesn't alter the GOP-Democrat balance of power. It saves all seats on New Mexico's east side and reshuffles districts in the Albuquerque area so one GOP seat moves from the city's central area to the GOP-leaning Rio Rancho area. Concept C favors Democrats, eliminating one seat in eastern New Mexico and creating a new seat in Dona Ana County. Concept D tends to benefit the GOP because it saves all eastside New Mexico seats and in the Albuquerque area would eliminate a Democratic seat in the central part of the city and move it to the GOP-leaning west side.

Concept A favors Democrats, merging two GOP districts on the east side of the state and creating a Democratic-leaning north-central district in Torrance County and southern Santa Fe County. Concept B is a status quo approach that saves eastside seats and shifts a GOP district from central Albuquerque to the GOP-dominated Rio Rancho area. Concept C also is a status quo proposal that protects all incumbent seats. Concept D-1 tends to benefit the GOP, saving eastside seats and merging Democratic districts in central Albuquerque and creating a new GOP-leaning seat on the city's west side.

Roll Call
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio and Chris Cillizza
August 6, 2001 

Helping Heather

New Mexico Republicans released their own plan last week to redraw the state's three House seats in an attempt to protect Rep. Heather Wilson's (R) Albuquerque-based 1st, a potential swing district.

The plan, crafted by demographer Rod Adair for the state GOP, would keep the entire city of Albuquerque in the 1st and would add the tech center of Los Alamos.

This proposal runs counter to one of several plans submitted to the state's Democratic-controlled Legislature by a consultant to the committee charged with redistricting, which would place parts of Albuquerque into all three districts and make the new 1st a majority-Hispanic seat unifying the Rio Grande Valley.

The plan would also bundle the state's Native American population into the 3rd district of Rep. Tom Udall (D).

Wilson does not comment on redistricting directly. A Wilson staffer, however, said "Representative Wilson has a keen interest in redistricting because it affects the people she represents in Congress.

"She hopes the redistricting process is a fair and open process," added the staffer.

The 1st district is marginal. Then Vice President Al Gore scored a 1-point victory here over then Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential race.

State legislators will meet in September to draw new lines for the 2002 elections. Control of the process is split, with Democrats in charge in the legislature and Gov. Gary Johnson (R) having veto power over any plan. It's the first time in 40 years that a Republican governor will oversee the process in the state.

Amarillo Globe-News
N.M. redistricting options discussed
By Janet Bresenham
June 23, 2001

Eastern New Mexico residents in the Clovis/Portales area got their first glimpse Friday of the possible changes that will be made to their congressional and state House and Senate districts due to population shifts in the state.

In some scenarios, the east side of the state could lose a House seat and a Senate seat in the New Mexico Legislature because the region did not grow as much as some other parts of the Land of Enchantment, said Brian Sanderoff. His Albuquerque-based consulting firm Research and Polling Inc. is compiling the proposed plans.

Also, a strong likelihood appears that the Clovis and Portales areas could be forced to rejoin the 2nd Congressional District in southern New Mexico rather than stay in the 3rd Congressional District, Sanderoff said.

However, Sanderoff and leaders of New Mexico's Redistricting Committee stressed that the variety of plans drawn for each governing body's districts are merely proposals and can be changed as needed.

The state Redistricting Committee, which is made up of 16 New Mexico lawmakers who are voting members and another 20 who are advisory members, traveled to Clovis Community College on Friday to present proposed redistricting plans and gather input on the process.

The full New Mexico Legislature hopes to meet in Santa Fe sometime in September for a special session that is expected to last 10-14 days.

The final decisions about redrawing boundaries will be made and forwarded to the governor for approval.

Every 10 years when a new nationwide census is completed, lawmakers are required to re-examine district boundaries and adjust them based on population shifts and other factors.

New Mexico's total statewide population grew an average of 20 percent during the last decade, from 1,515,069 in the 1990 Census to the current population figure of 1,819,046 from the 2000 Census.

The 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses all of northern New Mexico and the east side of the state as far south as Portales, must be realigned because it now has 22,900 more people than an ideal district should, largely because of the rapid growth of the Rio Rancho area near Albuquerque, Sanderoff said.

At the same time, the east side of New Mexico has eight of the state's 42 Senate districts but now only has enough population for about seven seats, unless the district boundaries are extended to the west, Sanderoff said.

One plan proposes to eliminate state Senate District 42, now served by Sen. Shirley Bailey, R-Hobbs, by merging it with Senate District 27, now served by Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales.

Bailey said she hopes alternative plans that would keep the same number of seats on the east side can be worked out "because on rural issues, especially, we need all the voices we can get in the Legislature."

On the House side of the New Mexico Legislature, one plan would remove District 64, currently served by state Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, from the region and enlarge other area House districts.

The state Legislature and the governor have the responsibility of redistricting New Mexico's three federal congressional districts, 70 state House seats, 42 state Senate seats, five Public Regulation Commission seats and 10 state Board of Education seats.

Amarillo Globe-News
Committee to hear input on redistricting
By Janet Bresenham
June 21, 2001

Eastern New Mexico residents will have an opportunity to give their opinions about the fate of state legislative districts and federal congressional districts during a special meeting planned for Friday.

The state Redistricting Committee will conduct a public session Friday in Clovis beginning at 10 a.m. MDT in Room 512 of Clovis Community College at 417 Schepps Blvd.

Friday's meeting will be the only one addressing redistricting for legislative and congressional districts in the region that is scheduled prior to the anticipated special session of the New Mexico Legislature in September.

Various redistricting plans are expected to be presented, and testimony will be taken from interested residents.

The state redistricting committee met Wednesday in Carlsbad and will meet today in Roswell.

But there are no scheduled meetings in Roosevelt, Quay or Union counties.

Every 10 years after receiving final census results, elected officials must examine population shifts and often redraw district boundary lines.

With the recent release of 2000 Census figures, lawmakers everywhere - including New Mexico - now must go back to the drawing board and decide whether changes need to be made concerning what areas are included in which districts.

Longtime state Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said the way the population of New Mexico is distributed likely means that many state legislative districts on the east side will have to grow even larger and encompass more territory toward the west.

For example, Curry County's population only grew about 6.7 percent from 1990 through the year 2000, from 42,207 in the census 10 years ago to 45,044 in last year's census.

As far as New Mexico's three congressional districts, there has been talk that the 3rd Congressional District - which now includes all of northern New Mexico and eastern New Mexico down to Portales - could shift back to the days when areas such as Clovis and Portales were in the 2nd Congressional District instead, officials said.

Although cities and counties also are having to consider redistricting options, Friday's meeting will concentrate on the New Mexico Legislature's House and Senate districts and congressional districts.

Albuquerque Tribune
This Time Around, Redistricting Has a Wild Card: Gary Johnson
By Barry Massey
May 13, 2001

When the Legislature convenes in a few months to draw new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts, lawmakers will find an important difference from redistricting in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

A Republican governor

Gov. Gary Johnson must approve any redistricting plan passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature for it to become law.

Johnson, as the Legislature knows all too well, isn't shy about exercising his veto power.

"Governor No," as some have described Johnson, takes a far different approach to the Legislature than the governor who watched over redistricting during the past three decades.

Democrat Bruce King occupied the governorship when New Mexico established congressional and legislative districts after the 1990 census.

King served as governor for redistricting after the 1980 head count. Remarkably, King also was governor for redistricting in the 1970s. Democrats held majorities in the Legislature each time new districts were drawn.

King, a former speaker of the House, employed a different style of governing than Johnson. He was more willing to negotiate and compromise with the Legislature than Johnson. King referred to the Legislature as his "board of directors." Johnson once described the Legislature as being in "la-la land."

Brian Sanderoff, who is a consultant to the Legislature on redistricting and a former King aide, reminded lawmakers recently about the political history of redistricting and King.

"He was a laissez faire type of man," Sanderoff told the interim Redistricting Committee. "Now the game has changed a little."

Democrats and Republicans certainly realize that.

"We've had a hard time with Johnson politically," says Rep. Edward Sandoval, an Albuquerque Democrat and co-chairman of the joint committee that will recommend redistricting plans to the full Legislature. "I'm just concerned that whatever we do, I don't know if it's going to pass his muster."

Dave Miller, the governor's legislative liaison, says Johnson wants redistricting to be a "very public process" rather than having the decisions made behind closed doors by a few kingpins in the Legislature.

"He views this as a special matter," Miller says. "He is going to carefully examine any redistricting legislation."

Drawing new political boundaries is a once-a-decade task required to realign districts to new population counts. The Legislature is expected to have a special session in September to tackle the assignment.

State GOP Chairman John Dendahl views Johnson's role in redistricting as crucial in protecting Republicans against new districts that put them at a disadvantage in elections.

"We have had no hand on the pencil," Dendahl said of past legislative and congressional redistricting efforts. "Now we have a major hand on the pencil with the governor. I am very confident he is going to be part of our team and willing to pull out the veto pen if that's what is going is to be required."

In the Legislature, Democrats hold a 42-28 advantage and a 24-18 majority in the Senate. Republicans, if they stick together, have enough votes to prevent Democrats from overriding a Johnson veto.

And certainly personal political interests will play a role in redistricting.

King, in his autobiography, "Cowboy in the Roundhouse," offered a timeless description of that aspect.

"Asking a legislator to redesign his own district is like asking the chicken to vote for Colonel Sanders -- it goes against his own interest," King wrote.

Albuquerque Tribune
Political Boundaries: Lawmakers' Careers Could Hinge on Where They Draw the Line
By Glibert Gallegos
April 24, 2001

Many of the legislators who have the most to gain and lose in upcoming redistricting battles have been picked to serve on a committee that will help draw up new voting boundaries.

The boundary-redrawing exercise becomes necessary with the release of new census figures every 10 years. Changes in population require that the state's electoral districts be revised to keep the populations within them more or less equal. Redrawing districts is fraught with political change.

The panel's membership is heavily shaded by partisan and leadership politics.

First, Democrats dominate the committee with 10 members. The remaining six members are Republicans, many from rural parts of the state.

Secondly, Sen. Leonard Tsosie, the Crownpoint Democrat who helped vote Senate President Richard Romero, an Albuquerque Democrat, into power, has been named the committee's co-chairman.

The co-chair appointment is a political prize: The committee's work could shape state politics for the next decade.

The appointment to the powerful redistricting committee gives Tsosie considerable influence to protect the so-called coalition of three Democrats and 18 Republicans that is backing Romero in the Senate and engineered the defeat of former President Manny Aragon.

Some senators say Romero purposely left himself off the 16-member voting committee.

"I imagine Sen. Romero has a lot to do with it (shaping redistricting), and I don't think you can take that away from him," said Senate Majority Leader Tim Jennings, a Roswell Democrat who was also appointed to the committee. "But he (Romero) didn't put himself there, so it looks to me like there's some overtures there of somewhat trying to get along."

But the appointment of Tsosie as co-chairman speaks volumes about Romero's political intent, other senators said.

On the House side, a veteran North Valley Democrat has been named the other co-chairman.

Rep. Ed Sandoval of District 17 participated in redistricting debates a decade ago.

But this year's job could be more important to Sandoval's and other Democrats' seats in Albuquerque.

"You may see me going into (Republican Rep.) John Sanchez's area or into (Democratic Rep.) Rick Miera's area to make some adjustments," Sandoval said, referring to the chance that new boundaries might pit him against incumbents in the House districts immediately north and south of his North Valley district.

Joining Sandoval on the committee is House Majority Leader Danice Picraux, an Albuquerque Democrat whose own Northeast Heights district faces some major changes in order to pick up more voters. The question is whether the new faces who make up Picraux's constituency are Democrats or Republicans.

Then there's the West Side contingent: Sen. Joe Carraro, a Republican and Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, a Democrat. The booming West Side of Albuquerque stands to gain seats in the House and Senate, giving the region unprecedented power.

Carraro, a veteran, and Sanchez, a rookie, could have the most say about where the new districts are placed, and more importantly to their political careers, shape their own districts to keep them in power.

"We're going to gain seats in the House and Senate, and they're going to come at the expense of the Northeast Heights and the South Valley," said Carraro, whose district now stretches from Taylor Ranch through Paradise Hills and into Rio Rancho. "

What that means is the West Side will get more influence, more power and, of course, more money because we'll have more senators and representatives," Carraro said.

Southeast New Mexico, the hot spot for redistricting 10 years ago, will also be represented by powerful legislators this go-around.

Jennings will join Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales, Republican Sen. Dianna Duran of Tularosa and House Minority Whip Earlene Roberts, a Lovington Republican, on the committee.

Jennings said he doesn't foresee the same legal problems over drawing boundaries to include ethnic voters that plagued Southeast legislators in 1991.

"I think my hope would be to maintain those districts," Jennings said of his and neighboring communities that were forced 10 years ago to shuffle boundaries to give more voting power to minorities.


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