Republican gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez supports the creation of an independent redistricting commission to take the politics out of redrawing the state’s political boundaries, while Democrat Diane Denish is open to considering the creation of an independent committee that would advise lawmakers and the governor.
The next governor will play a critical role in redistricting – the process of redrawing the state’s congressional and state legislative district boundaries to account for population shifts following the release of the new census numbers. The national Democratic and Republican parties have characterized the process in New Mexico and other states as a partisan battle over which party will control state governments and seats in Congress.
With that in mind, I asked these questions of the gubernatorial candidates:
- Do you agree or disagree with the sentiment of the national parties who characterize redistricting as a partisan battle?
- As governor, how would you approach redistricting?
- Do you view it as an opportunity to redraw the lines to benefit your political party, as Republicans did in Texas in 2003, or would you approach the process in a more bipartisan manner?
- Do you support implementing a nonpartisan redistricting process in New Mexico, perhaps similar to the system in place in Iowa?
“I support the implementation of an independent redistricting commission. We have seen in New Mexico, as in other states, that the redistricting process can be very contentious and almost completely driven by politics. Too often, politicians gerrymander districts to protect incumbents and the interests of their political party. It has been accurately said that this has the effect of politicians choosing their voters, rather than voters choosing their representatives.
“I would support a structure similar to the one proposed last legislative session, with equal representation on the commission by citizen members of the majority and minority parties. Such an independent citizens commission would help restore confidence in the process with the public, reduce the likelihood of costly court battles, and ensure the boundary lines of districts for the legislature and Congress are fairly drawn.”
“Recent history has shown that Republicans are the ones who have used redistricting as a political tool to benefit their party. This was especially evident in Texas earlier in the decade. I assume the same would be true if Susana Martinez is elected governor, considering her deep financial ties to large Texas Republican donors.
“That’s not how I operate. As governor, I would be open to considering an independent redistricting committee that would serve in an advisory capacity to the policymakers who are statutorily charged with redistricting.
“Redistricting is an opportunity to ensure fair representation for all New Mexicans. More important than raw partisanship, that means having a redistricting plan that makes sense geographically. It means ensuring that diverse, economically disadvantaged and rural communities have fair representation and a voice in their government.”