Judge rules against Republican challenge to New Mexico redistricting map

A district judge on Friday ruled against a Republican challenge to New Mexico’s Congressional District map.

Republicans’ challenge focused on changes to the boundaries of District 2, stating it gave Democrats an unfair advantage.

The district once encompassed almost all of southern New Mexico, while the redistricted map split the region up.

Judge Fred Van Soelen reiterated “some degree of a partisan gerrymander is permissible” and that it only becomes unconstitutional when one party has entrenched itself into the district.

The judge ruled Republicans and Democrats gave “conflicting testimony” on whether the map objectively made future races uncompetitive.

The only actual election evidence, the judge stated, is the Democrats’ 0.7% victory in 2022.

“Given the variables that go into predicting future election outcomes, coupled with the competitive outcome of the only actual election held so far under the SB 1 map, the Court finds that the Plaintiffs have not provided sufficient evidence that the Defendants were successful in their attempt to entrench their party in Congressional District 2,” the judge wrote in his ruling.

The judge ultimately ruled the map is constitutional, stating evidence shows the Democrats did not entrench themselves into the district.

Republicans plan to appeal the ruling to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

The Republican Party of New Mexico issued the following statement after the ruling Friday:

“Today’s decision was bigger than Republican or Democrat. It struck at the heart of our Republic, the form of government that allows all beliefs to have a voice.

We disagree with his ruling that it was not an egregious gerrymander. Our legal team presented a clear case that the legislature intended to and, in fact, did egregiously gerrymander the congressional maps to shift the second district by 18 points in favor of Democrats.

The gerrymandered districts disenfranchise the votes of all conservative voters: Hispanic, Native American, Black and all other pro-family, pro-parent, pro-gun, pro-life voters, farmers, and oil and gas workers. Democrat, Republican, and Independents alike have lost their voice. New Mexico’s primary industry is undermined, and jobs are at stake.

The Republican Party of New Mexico believes the fight is too important to accept this setback without contest.”

The Democratic Party of New Mexico issued this statement after the ruling Friday:

“It is no surprise that the NM GOP lost its bogus lawsuit attempting to throw out competitive, fairly-drawn maps. Steve Pearce’s defunct Republican Party of New Mexico is merely looking to place blame somewhere for their recent election losses.

Crafting of the current maps followed a non-partisan, deliberative process that was informed by & invited expert & public input from communities across the state & subsequently went through the complete legislative process in committees and both chambers.

Unfortunately for New Mexicans, the NM GOP became so beholden to the conspiratorial far-right that they continue to try to discredit the electoral process when they lose instead of running candidates who work to improve the lives of everyday New Mexicans.”