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GOP to pick up seats in Albuquerque after redistricting process

In the legislative redistricting process, the Republican-leaning west side of Albuquerque will likely gain seats while eastern and north-central New Mexico will lose them, according to Brian Sanderoff of Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc., a longtime consultant to the legislature. He tells Barry Massey of the Associated Press:

“It would be impossible mathematically for new representation to not occur on the west side. The trick is this: If new seats are going to emerge on the west side other seats must be consolidated,” Sanderoff told senators on Wednesday as he outlined the population trends that will drive redistricting decisions.

The goal of redistricting is to equalize the populations of districts as much as possible. That was required under the legal doctrine of one person, one vote, to ensure that each resident’s vote is worth the same.

To deal with slow-growing areas, lawmakers have limited options. Existing seats can be retained by expanding their boundaries to add precincts and population. Eastern New Mexico districts, for example, could be expanded to the west. That approach was taken a decade ago in Senate redistricting to ensure no loss of representation.

Lawmakers also can consolidate two districts into one, and shift one of those seats to a fast-growing part of the state, such as Albuquerque’s west side. Doing that, however, usually means forcing two incumbents to run against each other in the next election — a prospect that no legislator relishes.

“What happens in eastern New Mexico will impact what happens on the west side of Albuquerque,” said Sanderoff.

Some districts in Eastern New Mexico lean Republican too, but with Democrats only holding a 36-33 majority in the House and a 25-17 majority in the Senate, the process will be contentious.

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