Another important race for control of redistricting

Democrats would love to re-draw the lines of New Mexico’s Albuquerque-based first Congressional District to make it more reliable for their party. They hold commanding majorities in both houses of the state legislature, so they should be able to do that.

Unless, that is, Republicans seize the open governorship in this year’s election. If New Mexico has a Republican governor during redistricting — as they did in 2001 — the governor can veto a partisan plan. Here is the Barone-Cohen summary of what happened in 2001:

Control of the redistricting process in 2001 was split between the Democratic Legislature and Republican Gov. Gary Johnson. In June 2001, the Legislature passed a plan that would make the 1st District, held by Republican Heather Wilson, more Democratic; Johnson vetoed it. In September 2001, the Legislature passed a plan that would make the 2nd District, held by Republican Joe Skeen, more Democratic; Johnson vetoed it. Republicans took the issue to court. In January 2002, state District Judge Frank Allen, a Democrat, imposed his own plan. He said he was reluctant to make major changes, and his map shifted only 22,000 people into different districts. Democrats were disappointed; Republicans were pleased.

The GOP, which already has very bright prospects for the 2011 redistricting round nationwide, would love to deprive Democrats of control over drawing New Mexico’s three additional seats. At the moment, the Republican nominee, Susana Martinez, holds a slim lead over Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.

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