After numerous delays, behind-the-scenes political maneuvering and a fiery floor debate, the New Mexico Senate approved a redistricting bill late Thursday that had ground the special legislative session to a halt.

The 25-13 party-line vote on a redistricting map for New Mexico’s 42 Senate districts came after a three-hour-plus discussion in which a flurry of allegations were unleashed of backroom dealing, elitism and racism toward Hispanics, as well as political drama punctuated by a Republican lawmaker throwing a copy of the bill on the floor.

“We’ve got to reform this system because this is an ugly system,” said Sen. Mark Moores, an Albuquerque Republican who has advocated for a constitutional amendment to create an independent redistricting commission to handle the once-a-decade task of redrawing political boundaries.

“This is about political retribution, political might, and if you’re not the right kind of Hispanic, we’re gonna smite you,” he said, referring to conservative Hispanics.

While the redistricting bill is headed to the House for consideration Friday, the map appears far from settled.

Sen. Jacob Candelaria, who recently changed his voter registration from Democrat to decline to state, or independent, said he and others are considering a legal challenge amid concerns “about the dilution of Hispanic voices.”

Candelaria, an attorney, told The New Mexican his law firm has signed on to lead a possible legal challenge, and a decision on it would be made in coming days.

“Everyone here should expect litigation over these maps and others, because at the end of the day, while these maps may pass and these maps may have been a product of a lot of backroom dealing, it doesn’t mean they’re right,” Candelaria said during the floor debate. “It doesn’t mean they’re legal. It doesn’t mean they’re fair.”

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Minority Floor Leader Gregory Baca and Minority Whip Craig Brandt wait to debate a Senate redistricting bill Thursday at the Legislature. After hours of debate, the bill passed 25-13.

Republicans accused Democrats of carving political boundaries that would dilute the state’s Hispanic vote.

“New Mexicans, you are seeing something here that is irrational in this state,” Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca of Belen said. “We are a 48 percent Hispanic state, and you are being cheated of your seats.”

Under the bill approved by the Senate, Baca and Sen. Joshua Sanchez, R-Bosque, would be in the same district and would have to run against each other in a primary election.

While Baca was speaking against the bill, the lights in the chamber went off, prompting him to call for a delay in the debate.



“Turn those lights on! Where did they go?” he yelled. “I’m being shut down. I’m being browned out.”

Republicans also denied they had requested the unpairing of the two GOP senators as part of a deal on a substitute bill introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque.

“That’s a bunch of BS,” Baca said. “It was offered as a commitment from the other side to give representation to a majority-Hispanic district. So what do they do in the end? Let me tell you the result in the end. They unpaired white political elites in Albuquerque.”

Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, implored his colleagues “to rise above partisanship.”

“What I’ve seen go on in the last couple of weeks here makes me sick, and every single person in here should be embarrassed of what has happened,” he said.

As the debate wound down, Sen. Harold Pope, D-Albuquerque, urged his colleagues to tone down the rhetoric.

“Being the only African American [Democrat] to ever be in this chamber, I’m happy to have a voice and be here,” he said. “A lot of times the discussion is people having a seat at the table. Well, it’s all of our table. It’s all of our space. But we must stop this crabs-in-a-barrel mentality.”

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Regis Pecos, former governor of the Cochiti Pueblo, talks with media during a break Friday as legislators wait to debate a Senate redistricting bill.

The Senate map has been an ongoing source of discord in the Legislature; on Sunday, tribal leaders voiced strong opposition to Stewart’s substitute. They said they were not consulted and that it failed to take into account a consensus plan developed by all of the state’s tribes over eight months. Stewart’s proposal was eventually pulled.

With a few exceptions, the bill the Senate passed mirrors Lopez’s initial proposal and had the buy-in of Indigenous leaders.

Regis Pecos, a former governor of Cochiti Pueblo, said Republican Sen. Bill Sharer of Farmington had approached Native leaders with a compromise deal earlier in the day in exchange for their support. He likened the offer to treaties Native Americans had agreed to in the past, with disastrous results for tribes. The offer was “that we could all leave here today if we agreed to what was proposed,” which was “fundamentally unacceptable,” Pecos said.

“Our history is full of idealism,” he said. “It is full about trusting people, but that history also reflects people not fulfilling their promise.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

(40) comments

Lynn k Allen

In most ways, we are like a pile of different puppies, no 2 alike but not different either. What is good should be good for all, IF we truly respect other other.

Hard to imagine we are all born of women and raised TO BE NICE & TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WISH TO BE TREATED.

remember the spirit of the season & let it spill over us.

Edwina Gardner

Two thoughts…if Republicans can make New Mexico great, what happened with Susanna? Secondly, Democrats earned how to redistrict from the GOP…y’all know that. Power, for them, is better than policy.

Emily Koyama

Well, to answer your question, Susanna was hamstrung by a Democrat majority in the Legislature, so neither side could do much.

This will be Biden's problem after the midterms....he knows this, which is why they are desperate to ram through whatever they can for the next year.

joe martinez

chuckle....So many racists out there except for us commenters. And I'm not too sure about the rest of you. What we should keep in mind is that every one of those legislators was elected by voters....It's the voters the voters the voters. There should be voter suppression. Indians have it bad. Friend who is a fraction short of 50% and registered with a pueblo just got notice that there is "another" 3k ready for pickup. I'm 33% but no pueblo will have me. World's about to end and the poor and minorities will be the hardest hit. I get it from both directions.

John Martinez

Redistricting is top of the agenda for these corrupt politicians, yet NM is last in everything good and first in almost everything bad. The Governor is horrible and so are all the cronies of hers that fail to do their jobs and make NM great.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup][thumbup]Exactamundo!

Emily Hartigan

Mike, I salute your sense of humor.

Emily Hartigan

So flat, so uncomplicated, your world seems to be.

NM has been poor for centuries. So you blame Gov. Martinez' successor?

Emily Koyama

NO, blame the Dems who have controlled 80% of government, 80% of the time, for 80 years.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup][thumbup]Some people have no perspective or history in NM......

Emily Hartigan

OOOPS.

Wikipedia says that since 1900, NM governors have been 16 GOP and 20 Democratic.

So your easiest-to-check figure is just plain incorrect.

Peter Romero

[thumbup]

John Cook

Up until 2 years ago the Senate had been controlled by conserva-Dems for many, many years. You silly 'facts' are very Republican in nature, ie. 'alternative' to the truth. cf. Emily Hartigan, above.

Mike Johnson

Ms. Hartigan, you should look again. Since 1992, 14 years of Democratic Party trifectas, zero of GOP:

https://ballotpedia.org/Party_control_of_New_Mexico_state_government

And, since statehood, in 1912, 2 years of a GOP trifecta, 61 years of Democratic Party trifectas....https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_party_strength_in_New_Mexico

The Ds own everything that has happened in NM since statehood, period and the end.

Mike Johnson

Oops, make that 9 years of GOP trifectas since statehood, but still overwhelmingly controlled by Ds since statehood.

Peter Romero

[thumbup]

Emily Koyama

MS Hartigan evidently think Governors "rule" the State. Well, that might be true of Queen MLG....although even she is running into problems with the PRC and State Supremes....OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!!!!

Mike Johnson

[thumbup]

Mike Johnson

Many noticed the complete secrecy and backroom dealings going on in this process, and some spoke up, it did no good, but thank you NMFOG: https://www.nmnn.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/NMFOG121521.pdf

Peter Romero

After this fight is done, sadly New Mexico will still be last in everything good and first in everything bad.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup]It is guaranteed, look who is in charge......

Peter Romero

[thumbup]

Emily Hartigan

Watched hours of the debate (newbie begins to learn the players?) and was impressed by the rhetorical skills in the Senate, but unimpressed with the losers. The most disconcerting was Candeleria. Brilliant, passionate, and lost the credibility the New Mexican had gained for him. His rhetoric helped me understand why he isn't beloved, and while I believe he has championed the vulnerable, Hispanics in New Mexico are hardly vulnerable. They're the largest group. So the cries of racism by R's were hollow and ugly. Candelaria's literal ranting about out-of-state dark money for a cause HE voted for and some of us in-state out-front progressives supported, was gratuitous. One ugly accusation would have sufficed. I'm sorry if some Twitter group called him racist, but that was a self-indulgent rant in the midst of an already fraught debate. Left me sad that he ends up obsessed about "his" district - and still impressed that he voted with the Indigenous.

Emily Koyama

Ms Hartigan,

It is apparent that you are a newbie when it comes to New Mexico politics.... But it is good that you are trying to learn.

May I suggest you wear your clear glasses instead of the blue tinted ones, and you will fare much better.

Emily Hartigan

Well, Ms. Koyama, I did praise the senators across the board for being impressive rhetoricians ... but Socrates has something to say about that.

John Cook

The Senate Republicans complaining about 'gerrymandering' wanted the map to be actually gerrymandered to hurt native Americans. Remember what Regis Pecos said in yesterday's paper: As a result, Pecos said, Senate District 30 along the state’s western border would be stretched into rural Catron County, a heavily Republican area. “It puts us to the wolves,” Pecos said before the Senate floor session. “What do we have in common with Catron County? There’s no community of interest.”

Mike Johnson

Yes, of course the left wing and people of the Regis' kind, abhor racism, unless it is directed at their political enemies, then they call what they do, "inclusion"....but we know exactly what it is.

Stefanie Beninato

"and the people of Regis' kind"?? Do you even listen to your apparently racist remarks. But then again you think native peoples did not have civilizations either.

Mike Johnson

Oh, did I offend you sensibilities?[lol] The Native Americans had evolved long term civilizations over the centuries, I just prefer the one the Europeans installed in America starting 1492, and especially in NM after August 18, 1846.

Mike Johnson

And BTW Mr. Cook, my state rep district, 46, is a good example of moderate/conservative people diluted and disenfranchised by the left wing, who threw in the trust babies and elite left wing of Santa Fe to our rural district to dominate us. No one spoke up for us.

John Cook

You misunderstand District 46. Very few Santa Feans are in that district. The vast bulk of the population is rural and native New Mexicans. You know...people who are smart enough to know how the Republican politics of serving the rich and the corporations is not in their interest. If you want majority right-wingers, best hie yourself down to Lea County.

Mike Johnson

Yes, it is obvious the demands and tantrums of Native Americans carried more weight than Hispanics, particularly moderate/conservative ones. Typical left wing corruption.

John Cook

It's pretty funny to hear the Rs trying to play the race card. The only conservative Hispanics who are hurt by this map are Senators Baca and Sanchez who are now in the same district.

Emily Hartigan

And you should have heard those two squeal.... one actually invoked his family, as if losing a volunteer seat would throw them into poverty. Unless the corruption I hear alleged so often about NM, means loss of the seat would throw the loser into poverty?

John Cook

Now that is funny, Emily. And so true.

Stefanie Beninato

That's because he can no longer get brown bags that contain "lunch" money.

Michael Kiley

Yeah? So the Native AMERICANS should just take their marbles and go home? No, wait, this IS their home. What I picked up from the redistricting is the LEGISLATURES of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona need to force county commissioners to conform precinct lines with Dine chapter lines. Having to drive across the desert to TWO DIFFERENT POLLING PLACES each election is de facto voter suppression. This is an outrageous scandal. Fix it.

Mike Johnson

Maybe they should succeed from the union, they are "sovereign" right" Good luck with that, whose going to pay the welfare?

Michael Kiley

It seems to me that the problem nationally and here is Democratic saboteurs, not the problem of the right kind of Hispanic. It is the lewd spectacle of Biblical hypocrisy by Republicans nationally and here, who have been for a half century a racketeering influenced and corrupt organization using every new and old means of Democratic, black and Hispanic voter suppression to "win", now WHINING 'this isn't fair'. That dog don't hunt. New Mexico elected Democratic leaders for a reason and we want it ensured: democracy.

Richard Reinders

They have been electing Democrat leaders for 50 years, all the states that surround NM are vibrant, thriving , growing in population and financially with many new businesses. New Mexico is last and has been for 50 years. Not hard to figure this one out.

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