Democrats Introduce Revised Congressional Maps

CARSON CITY — Since the governor did not like their last redistricting plan, Democrats are trying again with revisions to their redistricting maps.

Gov. Brian Sandoval earlier vetoed the Democratic plan for the boundaries of political districts, which must be redrawn every 10 years according to U.S. Census demographic data.

The new plan is a second attempt for Nevada’s Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican governor to reach a compromise over appropriate political boundaries. If they cannot agree, the political tug-o-war could be resolved before a judge.

In a short afternoon hearing today, Democrats introduced and voted their second proposal, Assembly Bill 566, out of committee with Republicans again voting against it. Lawmakers could vote on the bill in the Assembly as early as tomorrow.

“One of the reasons we’re trying to move this stuff is because we want as much time as possible to consider them,” said Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who noted that the legislative session is scheduled to end soon.

Segerblom said that they did make changes based on what the governor had asked for.

The plan, however, provoked backlash from Republicans, who said their plan has never received a hearing, much less a vote.

Republicans also contended that the Democratic plans still are not fair.

“It doesn’t create enough competitive districts,” said Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson. “We want more competitive districts.”

Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, noted that Republicans have not even put their data into the Legislature’s computer system.

“I’m not trying to start a fight here, but the Republican maps are not on the public GIS system,” he said. “I’m just perplexed whey we can’t get this information. I’d love to have this discussion.”

Democrats voted to have the Republican plan hosted on the Legislature’s information system.

The new Democratic proposal includes two solid Democratic-leaning districts, one solid Republican district and one district with a 7 percent Democratic edge.

In a statement released this past Saturday, Sandoval said he did not believe Democrats complied with the federal Voting Rights Act, which guides how states should treat ethnic minorities when drawing political boundaries.

So Democrats created a congressional district three with a 36.72 percent Hispanic population.

This district is represented by Republican Representative Joe Heck, who won by a slim margin over Democratic incumbent Dina Titus during 2010.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, who saw the new proposals this morning, said that Heck’s winning margin was “inch deep” in the 2010 election, therefore making it difficult to keep his district Republican.

Compared to their vetoed plan, the Democratic proposal also moves Heck’s district solidly into Clark County, whereas before it had spread north into rural Nevada.

Heck is the only incumbent that Democrats and Republicans are considering as they draw new districts. Former Rep. Dean Heller became Sen. Heller after Sandoval appointed him to replace Sen. John Ensign, who resigned last month. Rep. Shelley Berkley has said she will face Heller in an 2012 election for that Senate seat.

Nevada’s explosive population growth between 2001 and 2010 earned also Nevada one more Congressional District, giving Nevada four Congressional Districts.

In a Republican plan released earlier, Republicans had drawn one congressional district with a majority Hispanic population. They had also created two districts favoring Democratic candidates and two favoring Republican candidates.

New Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD01 675,138 0 31.12 47.33 22.29 13.03 26.28
CD02 675138 0 42.81 35.27 16.6 2.19 20.43
CD03 675137 -1 30.28 47.33 31.33 9.91 36.72
CD04 675138 0 35.27 42.28 19.3 8.99 22.7

Vetoed Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 31.9% 47.9% na na 33.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 36.0% na na 20.5%
CD 03 675,138 0 34.4% 44.1% na na 29.2%
CD 04 675,137 -1 35.0% 43.1% na na 22.9%
*former CD04 in last proposal **CD03 in last proposal

Democrats also offered minor amendments to their vetoed proposals for state Assembly and Senate districts. The governor had said in his veto statement that he thought the Democratic proposals were too skewed toward Democrats.

“At its core, this bill creates districts that were drawn exclusively for political gain,” Sandoval said in his statement.

Segerblom said he still believes there is time to compromise.

“It’s still early … lots of time to talk and negotiate,” he said.

If Sandoval vetoes this plan, Democrats may still have time to introduce a third proposal. So far, that plan is not yet in the works.

“There is no plan C,” Segerblom said.