Republican Party challenges New Mexico political maps

SANTA FE, NM (AP) — The Republican Party on Friday filed a legal challenge to New Mexico’s recently approved political map that reshapes the state’s three congressional districts.

The lawsuit was filed in state district court based in Roswell. The state’s Republican Party and affiliated person argue that the newly established congressional districts are diluting Republicans’ electoral strength in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the New Mexico State Constitution.

“The state legislature flouted traditional principles of redistricting and used illegitimate reasons to draw lines that unacceptably dilute the electoral strength of an area and a political party,” the lawsuit says.

The political maps were approved in December by Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Democratic-led legislature.

The traditionally conservative 2nd District moved to incorporate heavily Hispanic neighborhoods of Albuquerque and cede parts of an oil-producing region in southeastern New Mexico.

U.S. GOP Rep. Yvette Herrell, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, won the district in 2020 by ousting a one-term Democrat.

The changes also have political implications for first-term Democratic U.S. Representatives Melanie Stansbury of Albuquerque and Teresa Leger Fernandez of Santa Fe.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in December that the new political boundaries provide a “reasonable baseline for competitive federal elections, in which no party or candidate can claim an unfair advantage.”

Legislature consultants say the new congressional map gives Democrats an advantage in all three districts to varying degrees, based on past voting behavior.

Republicans need a net gain of five seats in 2022 to take control of the US House of Representatives and effectively freeze President Joe Biden’s agenda on everything from climate change to the economy.

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