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Republican Party challenges New Mexico political maps

Protesters rally outside the state Capitol in support of a federal congressional redistricting proposal on Dec. 13 in Santa Fe. Democrats who control both chambers of the state Legislature have endorsed much of the map, but the Senate drew fire from progressives for tweaks that would dilute the voting power of Native Americans some local districts district. (Cedar Attanasio/Associated Press)

SANTA FE – 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 a Roswell-based state district court. The state Republican Party and affiliated individual argue the newly drawn congressional districts dilute Republican voting strength in violation of the equal protection clause of the New Mexico state Constitution.

“The State Legislature ran roughshod over traditional redistricting principles and used illegitimate reasons to draw lines impermissibly diluting the voting strength of one region and one political party,” the lawsuit says.

The political maps were approved in December by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Democrat-led Legislature.

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

GOP U.S. 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 hold political implications for first-term Democratic U.S. Reps. Melanie Stansbury of Albuquerque and Teresa Leger Fernandez of Santa Fe.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in December that the new political boundaries provide a “reasonable baseline for competitive federal elections, in which no one party or candidate may claim any undue advantage.”

Consultants to the Legislature 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 U.S. House and effectively freeze President Joe Biden’s agenda on everything from climate change to the economy.