Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday signed a contentious state Senate redistricting bill, ending speculation about whether she would approve the measure.
“I am grateful to the community leaders from across the state that held their ground for a representative map respectful of New Mexico communities large and small alike, ensuring that New Mexicans are fairly represented in the state Senate,” Lujan Grisham said in a news release Thursday morning after she signed Senate Bill 2, which lawmakers approved during a special two-week session in December.
The governor previously signed legislation updating election district maps for New Mexico’s congressional seats, the state House of Representatives and the Public Education Commission. But she held off on the Senate map until the last day to take action.
The Senate redistricting map was perhaps the most hotly contested in the session, with accusations of betrayal and gerrymandering during a Senate floor debate. Republicans in the chamber accused Democrats, who maintain a 26-15 advantage, of marginalizing Hispanic voters and favoring Democratic incumbents.
Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, said the effort was aimed at silencing conservative Hispanics: “If you’re not the right kind of Hispanic, we’re gonna smite you,” he said.
States must draw new election district boundaries every 10 years, based on updated U.S. census data to accommodate population shifts.
New Mexico lawmakers voted last year to create a Citizens Redistricting Committee to collect, review and vet dozens of redistricting map proposals before creating and submitting several options to the Legislature for consideration.
But lawmakers were able to reject or amend the committee’s proposals and could create and approve entirely new maps.
The Senate map signed by Lujan Grisham places Republican Sens. Greg Baca of Belen and Joshua Sanchez of Bosque in the same district, which means they will have run against each other in the 2024 election — or one of them will have to step down or move out of the district and run in a different one.
Baca accused Senate Democrats of “purposefully” pitting the two Hispanic Republicans against each other to edge one of them out of the Senate.
Baca, an attorney, said on the last day of the special session he was considering a lawsuit to prevent the map from becoming law. Baca did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.
Mike Curtis, a spokesman for the Republican Party of New Mexico, said after the bill signing Thursday, “The party has state and national legal experts looking into options and is seeking the possibility of launching a lawsuit against the maps.”