State Senator Cervantes wants legislature to create competitive congressional district


By Mike Cook

During his next special session on redistribution, State Senator Joseph Cervantes de Las Cruces has said he hopes the New Mexico legislature will redesign the 2nd Congressional District of the United States, which includes Las Cruces. and all of southern New Mexico, in a way that creates “a competitive and fair district that both parties can win.”

Cervantes, a Democrat, is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and hopes to pass the bill that redraws the state’s three congressional districts, based on the results of the 2020 census.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is expected to convene the special session this month, with lawmakers meeting in Santa Fe to redesign congressional districts as well as the 112-member state legislature and education commission districts public of New Mexico, composed of 10 members.

The seats of the State Public Regulatory Commission (PRC) will not be redesigned as voters approved a state constitutional amendment in 2020 that increases the PRC from five members elected by voters to three members appointed by the governor with the consent of the State Senate. This change is effective January 1, 2023.

A lawyer for Las Cruces, Cervantes served 12 years in the New Mexico House of Representatives before being elected to the state Senate in 2012. He has more combined services in the House and Senate than any other member of the House of Representatives. the legislative delegation of the county of Doña Ana and will participate in its third extraordinary redistribution session.

During his 20 years in the legislature, Cervantes has said he has opposed the idea that the 2nd Congressional District of New Mexico “should be a Republican seat,” he said.

“I always wanted this seat to be competitive (and) more representative of its biggest city (Las Cruces) and its biggest county (Doña Ana),” said Cervantes.

The strongly Democratic county of Doña Ana has a population nearly three times the population of the next largest county in the district, but Republicans have occupied the congressional seat of the 2nd District (NM02) for nearly three-quarters of its 53 years in the country. ‘story. Since its inception in 1969, the NM02 has been held by Republicans for 39 years (it will be 40 years when current U.S. Representative Yvette Herrell completes the second year of her first term in 2022) and by Democrats for 14 years. And Democrats have only occupied the seat for four of the past 31 years.

There have only been two American representatives of Las Cruces in the history of the district, totaling four years of service. Republican Ed Foreman of Las Cruces won the seat in 1968 and lost it two years later to Harold Runnels of Lovington. Las Cruces attorney Xochitl Torres Small won the seat in 2018 but lost it in a 2020 rematch with Herrell, a former Otero County State Representative who lives in Alamogordo .

A congressional district that is designed to keep a party in power “is not healthy for democracy,” Cervantes said, and that makes the winner “accountable to the party, not the public.”

Cervantes said he was concerned that the New Mexico redistribution committee did not have any members from southern New Mexico. The seven-member committee was appointed by leaders of both parties in both houses of the Legislature and by the state’s Ethics Commission last summer. His. The November 2 final report, including the proposed redistricting maps, can be viewed at www.nmredistricting.org. The legislature is not bound to follow the committee’s redistribution proposals.

The redistribution plan proposed by a Democratic-controlled legislature following the 2000 census was vetoed by then-governor Gary Johnson, and the redistribution was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court of State. No votes were taken on an NM02 redistribution plan during the 2011 special redistribution session following the 2010 census, Cervantes said, as he and other southern New Mexico lawmakers refused to vote. support a plan that maintained NM02 as a solidly Republican seat. As before, the state’s redistribution plans were ultimately worked out by the state’s high court, which made as few changes as possible to the district boundaries as they existed at the time, Cervantes said.

District populations

For the purposes of the redistribution, New Mexico’s current population is 2,117,522. Ideally, that means 705,841 people should be in each of its three congressional districts – and the legislature is mandated to approximate that. no more possible. The 2020 population of each district is: 694,577 (11,264 sub ideal) in district one; 714,022 (8,181 above ideal) in the second district; and 708,923 (3,082 above ideal) in the third district.

The ideal population for each State Senate district is 50,417, and for each State House district it is 30,250.

Visit https://nmlegis.gov/Redistricting2021/.


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