Dec. 8—SANTA FE — Two powerful committee leaders at the Capitol — Sen. Joseph Cervantes and Rep. Georgene Louis — proposed a map Tuesday that would give Democrats an edge in all three New Mexico's congressional districts.
It would largely split Albuquerque into two districts — with much of the West Side, neighborhoods by the Rio Grande Zoo and South Valley moved into the southern-based congressional district now held by Republican Yvette Herrell of Alamogordo.
Rio Rancho and the remainder of Albuquerque would be in the 1st Congressional District — now held by Democrat Melanie Stansbury of Albuquerque — but stretch down into rural Lincoln County and Ruidoso.
The northern-based congressional district of Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez of Santa Fe would swoop down along the eastern side of the state to pick up Roswell and part of Hobbs in the oil patch.
The net effect would be three districts that lean toward Democrats, according to political performance data released by legislative analysts:
—An 8 percentage point edge for Democrats in the 1st Congressional District, or 54% to 46% over Republicans.
—A 6 point edge for Democrats in the 2nd District.
—An 11 point edge for Democrats in the 3rd District.
Cervantes, a Las Cruces Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, said the proposal would amplify the voices of historically underrepresented Hispanic voters in southern New Mexico and give each member of the congressional delegation a mix of cities and rural areas.
"Having our entire congressional delegation represent both urban and rural constituencies and communities will assure advocacy on behalf of every New Mexican from our entire delegation," Cervantes said in a written statement. "This is a great opportunity for us to focus on creating unified priorities rather than exacerbating our divisions and differences."
Lea County Commission Chairwoman Rebecca Long said it makes no sense to split the city of Hobbs — where she lives — in a congressional map.
"This new proposed map is a total disservice to the citizens of Lea County, Roosevelt County and Curry County," Long, a Republican, said Tuesday.
She added: "Communities of interest must stay together like they have in the past."
The proposal, Senate Bill 1, is expected to be a focus of debate in a Senate Rules Committee hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
If passed there, it would have to clear one more committee before reaching the full Senate.