State GOP Opts Against Further Pursuit of Redistricting Case


A Republican-led challenge to New Mexico’s congressional district maps appears to have been dropped.

The state GOP’s spokeswoman, Ash Soular, wrote in an email Wednesday that the party has no plans to seek a rehearing of the state Supreme Court’s recent order upholding the districts “at this time.”

That means the case, which has been playing out in state courts since lawmakers authorized new maps in 2021, will finish in a win for Democrats, and the present boundaries will remain in place.

In late November, the state Supreme Court upheld a previous court finding in which a judge determined that, while Democratic lawmakers attempted to limit Republican voting power in the 2nd Congressional District, their actions did not violate state constitutional rights.

The state Republican Party had challenged the maps as an illegal gerrymander. However, in late November, the state Supreme Court concluded that 9th Judicial District Judge Fred Van Soelen’s order sustaining the maps was “supported by substantial evidence” and did not arise from any “legal error.”

The 2nd Congressional District was redrawn to incorporate parts of Albuquerque, which added approximately 40,000 Democratic voters. Some heavily Republican cities in southeastern New Mexico, such as Hobbs, were subsequently moved from the 2nd to the 3rd Congressional District in Northern New Mexico, which already had a comfortable Democratic majority.

After the lines were changed, U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, a Democrat from Las Cruces, defeated Republican Yvette Herrell by around 1,300 votes in the 2022 campaign for the 2nd Congressional District seat. New Mexico currently has a completely Democratic congressional delegation as a result of Herrell’s defeat. Herrell has stated that she intends to run again in 2024.

Every ten years after the U.S. census, states redraw their legislative and congressional district lines. The process of determining which political party will hold power at the state and federal levels sometimes ends up in court.

The state Republican Party had 15 days from the date the state Supreme Court published its verdict on Nov. 27 to request a rehearing, and that time is almost gone.

The plaintiffs are unlikely to be able to pursue alternative legal channels, such as a federal challenge, because the United States Supreme Court essentially decided in 2019 that federal courts have no authority over state legislatures’ redistricting processes.

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