On Monday, the New Mexico Supreme Court struck down a lawsuit from Republicans hoping to redraw the state’s congressional map, keeping the current map in place until at least the end of this redistricting cycle.
In the 2021 congressional map, the southernmost congressional district was allegedly gerrymandered by Democratic lawmakers, according to Republican voices in the state who claimed that the redistricting maneuver was a deliberate attempt to fracture influence over the oil and gas industry, which frequently aligns with the conservative southwest region.
In October, 9th Judicial District Judge Fred Van Soelen ruled that there was some evidence that Democrats had attempted to dilute Republican voters in the 2nd Congressional District, but later ruled that there was not an excessive amount of gerrymandering.
The court found that the purpose of redrawing the map “was to entrench the Democratic Party in power by diluting the votes of citizens,” noting “sufficient evidence was provided” to break down the 2nd Congressional District “show[n] by the significant swings in voters who were moved out and other voters moved into the district, and the partisan difference in these voters.”
Van Soelen said that Democrats successfully cut up voting blocs in Lea, Eddy and Chaves counties and brought in parts of southern Bernalillo County. However, he did not “find that the disparate treatment of vote dilution rises to the level of an egregious gerrymander.”
That decision was appealed by Republicans, who argued that the Democratic-led legislature had weakened a traditional GOP stronghold, turning it into a highly competitive seat, pointing out that former Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell had narrowly lost the seat to Rep. Gabe Vasquez (D-NM) in 2022.
However, the ruling by the state Supreme Court strikes down Republican chances of redrawing the map ahead of the 2024 election, where Vasquez and Herrell are expected to face off in a rematch.
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