Posts Tagged ‘redistricting’

Final Redistricting Data, From Population To Party Registration Information, Available On Legislative Website

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 1:27 pm April 2nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Legislature’s website has the final redistricting plans for the state’s four congressional, 21 Senate and 42 Assembly seats with breakdowns of total populations, population by race and ethnicity, political party registration and other useful data.

Detailed maps of the new districts are also available on the website.

The information shows, for example, that that 21 state Senate seats all have total populations of about 128,000, with voting age populations ranging from a high of 103,154 in Senate District 11 in Southern Nevada to a low of 86,812 in Senate District 2 in Southern Nevada.

Senate District 17 in northern Nevada has the highest percentage of registered voters compared to the eligible voting population at 82.2 percent, while Senate District 2 in Southern Nevada has the lowest percentage at 46.7 percent.

The information includes party registration based on the 2010 census data that was used to draw the districts, but those numbers are different now with more recent voter registration data provided by the Secretary of State’s office.

The districts were drawn by three court-appointed special masters after Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature could not agree on how to draw the lines to reflect the population growth in the state since the 2000 census.

Gov. Sandoval Says He Is Pleased With New Political Maps, Does Not Anticipate An Appeal

By Sean Whaley | 3:12 pm November 8th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he is pleased with the political boundaries created by a court-appointed panel of special masters, and does not anticipate a legal challenge to the new lines drawn for the 63 legislative and four congressional districts for the 2012 general election.

“I want to compliment the masters and Judge (James Todd) Russell, I think they did a great job,” he said. “My understanding is none of the parties are going to appeal the decision. And I know there is a certain amount of time that will have to pass before that appellate deadline comes, but no, me personally, I am very happy and satisfied with the result.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau.

Russell, a Carson City District judge who handled the redistricting process when Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature could not reach agreement, signed off on the new boundaries on Oct. 27 after making a few minor adjustments to the maps submitted by the special masters he appointed to draw the new political lines.

Attorneys for both the Democrat and Republican parties have thus far indicated they do not plan to challenge the maps, which had to be redrawn to reflect population shifts identified in the 2010 census.

There is a 30-day window for an appeal to be filed with the Nevada Supreme Court to challenge the maps.

The Supreme Court, in an order issued late Friday, also cancelled an oral argument to consider concerns raised by Secretary of State Ross Miller about Russell’s decisions regarding the redistricting process, saying any issues can be raised in an appeal.

The congressional maps, which include a new fourth seat due to Nevada’s population growth over the past decade compared to other states, has a central urban Las Vegas District 1 that is 42.8 percent Hispanic.

Previously announced candidates for the new congressional districts wasted no time in declaring their intentions to run, and in which districts as approved by Russell.

Sandoval vetoed two Democrat-sponsored redistricting plans passed in the 2011 legislative session. He had previously rejected any call for a special legislative session to handle the redistricting dispute, saying he had confidence in the courts to resolve the impasse.

-

Audio clip:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he is happy with the new redistricting maps:

110811Sandoval :20 with the result.”

Carson District Judge Signs Off On New Political Boundaries, Making Only Minor Changes To Special Master Maps

By Sean Whaley | 2:58 pm October 27th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell approved a set of maps outlining Nevada’s new political boundaries today, making only modest changes to the lines drawn by a panel of three court-appointed special masters.

Russell, who ended up in charge of the redistricting process after legislative Democrats and Republicans could not come to an agreement in the 2011 session, signed off on the four congressional districts as proposed and made minor changes to several state Senate seats to correct what he said was an irregularly shaped state Senate 8 seat now held by Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas.

The changes to Senate 8 also resulted in modest changes in the percentage of Democrats and Republicans in Senate District 9 held by Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, R-Las Vegas, Senate District 6 held by Sen. Allison Copening, D-Las Vegas, and a new Senate 18 district created in Clark County with the population shift from northern and rural Nevada to the south.

Democrat attorney Marc Elias, left, and Republican attorney Mark Hutchison look over the new maps in Carson City District Court today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau

Russell also changed the proposed boundaries of Assembly Districts 34 and 37 in Clark County to return Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, to his District 34. Horne had moved and was unintentionally drawn out of his district.

Russell made the changes after consulting this week with the special masters in advance of today’s hearing.

Attorneys for Democrats and Republicans reserved judgment on whether they will appeal the new political boundaries, required as a result of the 2010 Census, after reviewing the changes. The new political boundaries could potentially be challenged both to the Nevada Supreme Court and the federal courts.

Republican Party attorney Mark Hutchison had argued for changes to Senate seats 6, 8 and 9 to make them more competitive for Republicans, but Russell made only minor changes to the districts.

Democrat Party Attorney Marc Elias had asked for no changes to the maps drawn by Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover, Las Vegas attorney Thomas Sheets and former legislative Research Director Bob Erickson.

Elias said he could propose a laundry list of changes to the maps to improve Democrat political changes in the 2012 election, but that absent any serious errors that needed fixing, the political demands of the two parties should not be accommodated by Russell.

Russell said he tried to address the concerns of rural Nevada, which saw a Senate district drawn all the way into Clark County to reflect the population shift, but could find no way to do so. He noted that both the redistricting plans proposed by Republicans and Democrats moved the district into Clark County as well. The map as drawn by the special masters encompasses less of Clark County than the plans proposed by the parties, Russell said.

“We tried to accommodate these people . . . but there’s no way to work it out,” he said.

The rural district could have been kept whole only if the Legislature had voted to expand its size from the current 21 Senate and 42 Assembly seats, but it did not do so. The state constitution allows the Legislature to be expanded to as many as 75 seats in total.

The congressional maps, which include a new fourth seat due to Nevada’s population growth over the past decade compared to other states, has a central urban Las Vegas District 1 that is 42.8 percent Hispanic.

“I think overall we can live with the congressional maps, particularly based on the court’s decision to accept the special masters’ finding that there was no white block voting that precluded minorities from being elected or choosing candidates of their choice,” Hutchison said.

Elias said he does not believe the new congressional districts violate the federal Voting Rights Act and so no federal court challenge looks likely.

“It doesn’t seem to me that there is any basis at this point for a federal court action,” he said. “We’ve said, literally from the first day here, that the Voting Rights Act does not compel the creation of a majority-minority congressional district.”

Russell said he also considered the idea of returning the redistricting process to the Legislature in a special session, but rejected the idea. A two-week special session would have cost about $550,000, he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval is the only one with the authority to call a special session of the Legislature, and he had previously rejected the idea, saying he had confidence in the court process to resolve the impasse.

Russell also found that the districts as drawn do not violate the federal Voting Rights Act.

The Nevada Supreme Court still has a hearing scheduled for next month on the issue of whether the Legislature has the responsibility to draw the state’s new political boundaries, not the courts.

-

Audio clips:

GOP attorney Mark Hutchison says Republicans can lives with the new congressional districts:

102711Hutchison :15 of their choice.”

Democrat attorney Marc Elias says he does not believe there are federal issues with the new districts:

102711Elias :16 majority-minority congressional district.”

Nevada Republican Party Opposes Emergency High Court Intervention In Court-Run Redistricting Process

By Sean Whaley | 7:26 pm October 24th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Attorneys for the Nevada Republican Party today filed a brief with the Nevada Supreme Court opposing Secretary of State Ross Miller’s emergency petition seeking to intervene on the question of the authority of the courts to decide the state’s political boundaries instead of the Legislature.

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 14 on questions raised by Miller on whether it is the responsibility of the Legislature to draw the political boundaries, not the courts.

In a brief in opposition to Miller, Republican Party attorney Mark Hutchison called the petition moot since the special masters appointed by Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell worked quickly to submit proposed maps redrawing the state’s congressional and legislative districts.

Special redistricting masters, from left, Bob Erickson, Thomas Sheets and Alan Glover. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

“In short, the District Court action is proceeding apace, and the court will be in a position to issue final plans during, and perhaps even before, the beginning of November 2011,” the filing says. “This timeline provides ample time for any appeal to be heard and decided by this court well in advance of upcoming election deadlines. As such, petitioner’s original grounds for seeking this writ effectively are moot in light of subsequent events and, for this and other reasons set forth more fully below, the emergency petition should be denied.”

Russell will hold a hearing Thursday to consider the maps submitted Oct. 14 by the three special masters.

Hutchison, in a late filing by the deadline today to the proposed political districts submitted by the special masters, identified a few concerns in the proposed maps.

“Despite the special masters’ largely successful performance of their duties, the court has charged the parties to identify any legal errors with the proposed maps. Legal errors do exist in the current maps, but they are few,” the filing said.

One concern cited by Hutchison is the Senate District 8 seat now held by Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas. He argues in the filing the district is irregularly shaped and not compact.

There is also a concern cited about Senate District 6, now held by Sen. Allison Copening, D-Las Vegas, as drawn favoring Democrats where it has historically been a Republican seat.

Following two public hearings on Oct. 10 and 11, the court-appointed special masters filed their proposed maps three days later. Before the maps were filed Oct. 14, Hutchison issued a statement that said the party had faith in the panel to submit fair maps.

“Creating fair districts for both elected legislators and the public has been the goal of the Republicans since the beginning of the 2011 legislative session,” the statement said.

As to Miller’s underlying argument that it is the Legislature’s duty to perform the redistricting process, Hutchison said in his filing with the Supreme Court that he agrees the Nevada constitution entrusts the task of redistricting to the Legislature, but that, “if the Legislature fails to fulfill its duty, it may be incumbent upon other branches of government to remedy the situation.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval thus far has rejected any suggestion that he call a special session of the Legislature to resolve the redistricting issue. The Democrat-controlled Legislature passed two redistricting plans during the 2011 legislative session, but both were vetoed by the Republican governor who cited concerns that they violated the federal Voting Rights Act.

Special Masters File Report, Maps, With Carson Judge – Propose Urban Las Vegas Congressional District

By Sean Whaley | 5:35 pm October 14th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The three special masters appointed by Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell to redraw Nevada’s political boundaries wasted no time on the charge, filing their report and proposed maps with the court today.

The proposed maps show that the masters opted to draw a congressional district for urban Las Vegas, an area with a high Hispanic population.

Attorneys for the Republican Party wanted such a district. Attorneys for Democrats had proposed districts that divided this area up among three congressional districts. The district as drawn is 42.8 percent Hispanic.

The proposed boundaries for urban Congressional District 1 are sure to provoke strong reaction from Democrats.

In their report, the special masters – Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover, Las Vegas attorney Thomas Sheets and former legislative Research Director Bob Erickson – said: “The special masters in creating a map with four United States Congressional districts carefully considered the issues associated with treatment of minority groups. The Special Masters considered the facts presented, testimony, argument and the law as they understood it.

Special redistricting masters, from left, Bob Erickson, Thomas Sheets and Alan Glover. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

“The Special Masters to the extent practicable have drawn the districts to avoid dividing groups of common social, economic, cultural, or language characteristics where it was not otherwise necessary to do so,” they said.

The special masters also released proposed maps for Nevada’s 63 legislative districts. The map for the state Senate reflects the shift of population south since the 2000 census. The maps include detail of the Las Vegas area.

The maps for the 42 Assembly districts shows a similar shift. The masters also provided detail of the proposed Las Vegas area Assembly districts.

In filing their report, the special masters noted that: “The state’s Supreme Court will likely ultimately determine legal, jurisdictional and procedural requirements and whether the work that has been done by the special masters is of assistance in seeking that redistricting issues were expediently considered.”

The panel wasted no time. Public hearings on the redistricting issue just concluded on Tuesday. The proposed maps were not due to Russell until Oct. 21. Russell indicated in a previous order he would decide by mid-November on whether to accept the maps as proposed or send them back for refinement. But a new order issued today says he will hear the matter on Oct. 27.

The Nevada Supreme Court is already involved in the redistricting controversy. It has scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 14 on questions raised by Secretary of State Ross Miller on whether it is the responsibility of the Legislature to draw the political boundaries, not the courts.

In Case You Missed It: The Week in Nevada Politics

By Elizabeth Crum | 1:36 pm October 8th, 2011

And what a week it was! You’re sure to have missed at least one or two of the following items. And if I forgot something, feel free to post it below in Comments, along with your…comments.

Redistricting

I’m working on a blog post including links to the latest that I’ll get up by Monday, Dear Readers. Documents are flying and quite a bit has happened since Sept. 21 when a Carson City judge ordered public hearings on the matter.

If you want to attend the public hearing still scheduled for Las Vegas, it’s Monday, Oct. 10, at 9:30 a.m. in the Grant Sawyer building, 555 E. Washington Ave., Room 4401.

In Carson City, the public hearing will be Tuesday, Oct. 11, in room 4100 of the Legislative Building, 401 S. Carson Street.

Or you can find links to live broadcasts here.

Caucuses/Primaries

After Florida jumped ahead to Jan. 31, South Carolina scheduled on Saturday, Jan. 21, and Nevada settled on Saturday, Jan. 14. Then, Iowa yesterday set their caucus date for Tuesday, Jan. 3. This creates a problem for New Hampshire which has a statute saying their primary has to be at least seven days before the next primary/caucus. If New Hampshire schedules on Tuesday, Jan. 10, Nevada’s caucus will fall just four days later.

Presidential Race and Related Matters

George and Jeb were in town. The former gave a speech and then went to see his old pal Sheldon Adelson at the Venetian; the latter mostly hung out with Gov. Sandoval including headlining a big ($600,000) fundraiser, also at the Venetian. (Ralston wrote up some of Jeb’s remarks after his tour of Agassi Prep.)

Team Ron Paul is up with their first TV ad. No word (yet) on the size of the buy in Nevada.

Herman Cain is on the rise.

Immigration matters. Romney v. Perry.

Stuart Rothenberg says he thinks the electoral vote advantage goes to Romney in a match-up against Obama.

A Tea Party Express spin-off group (numerous TPX staffers migrated) called Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama put out a YouTube ad called “Liberal Mitt’s Greatest Hits.” Safe to say, they aren’t Romney fans.

SuperPACs galore.

U.S. Senate

“Senate in chaos” says Politico. Procedurally speaking, that is. By a 51-48 vote, the Senate voted (along party lines) to change the precedent and limit how amendments can be considered once a filibuster is defeated. This after the GOP tried to tie up the Chinese currency bill by tacking on unrelated amendments. (Both parties have done plenty of this kind of thing at various times over the years.)

CSM wrote about it, too.

Is prayer the Senate’s only hope?

China’s currency meddling and related legislation was a topic in the Berkley-Heller Senate race this week.

Berkley out-raised Heller by nearly double in Q3. She now has $3.2 million cash on hand. Heller has $2.8 million. And let’s not forget all the money that will be spent here by the NRSC, DCSC, and various IEs and SuperPACs.

House

Amodei: Got Committees?

The Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, on which Rep. Joe Heck sits, this week held a hearing to explore ways to modernize the nation’s job-training system. Here’s video of Heck questioning witnesses.

Miscellaneous

Clark County is moving forward, making NBC and ABC (no, not the TV networks) happy in their PLA/union fight. Interesting stuff.

Our thanks to the LVRJ for running Sean Whaley’s story on Medicare fraud.

 

Nevada Supreme Court Wants More Information In SOS Redistricting Request

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 5:49 pm October 5th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Supreme Court today issued an order instructing Secretary of State Ross Miller to supplement the petition filed by his office earlier this week asking the court to intervene in the redistricting issue now in Carson City District Court.

Secretary of State Ross Miller. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The court today issued an order telling Miller to address: (1) whether the Legislature discharged its mandatory duty under Article 4, Section 5 of the Nevada constitution; 1 (2) if not, can or should the Nevada state courts engage in the act of redistricting as contrasted with reviewing a legislatively established plan; and (3) if the matter is one over which the judiciary can or should exercise authority, in addition to any other issues the Secretary wishes to address…”

“It is the intention of the Secretary of State’s office to fully comply with the order of the Nevada Supreme Court,” Miller said in response to the order. “As has already been established, the Secretary of State’s office will have no further comment on the matter until it is heard by the courts.”

On Monday, Miller filed the petition asking the court to intervene, arguing that Carson District Judge James Todd Russell failed to address key issues before asking a panel of three special masters to draw new political lines for four congressional seats and the 63 seats of the Nevada Legislature.

A key issue is whether the special masters should attempt to create a new congressional seat in Las Vegas that is composed of a large percentage of Hispanic residents.

The special masters are scheduled to take public testimony on Monday and Tuesday before drawing new lines based on the 2010 census and submitting the maps to Russell for his review by Oct. 21.

The redistricting issue ended up in the courts after Republicans and Democrats in the 2011 legislative session failed to reach agreement on the new political lines for the 2012 elections.

 

Judge Russell’s Redistricting Order

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:19 am September 22nd, 2011

Here’s the just-issued order from a Carson City court room:

 

 

Redistricting Order 9 21 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carson Judge Russell Expected To Rule Quickly On Redistricting Guidelines, Sets Public Hearings For Oct. 10-11

By Sean Whaley | 3:14 pm September 21st, 2011

CARSON CITY – Racial gerrymandering, fracturing, packing, nesting – a three-hour hearing today in Carson City District Court over how to draw Nevada’s new political boundaries was full of arcane concepts and obscure terminology.

The much anticipated ruling from Judge James Todd Russell on guidelines for drawing those new districts will have major ramifications, however, for the state’s voters and its two major political parties.

The purpose of the hearing was to decide what factors a panel of three citizens must consider when drawing the state’s political lines for four congressional and 63 legislative seats based on the new population figures from the 2010 U.S. Census.

Attorneys for Democrats and Republicans used the terminology to make their cases for how the new political lines should be drawn. Most of the hearing focused on the four congressional seats that must be drawn for the 2012 general election. Nevada earned a 4th seat due to population gains over the past decade.

Time is of the essence in the dispute, with the election season set to get under way early next year.

Attorney Mark Hutchison, representing the Republican Party, argued that the Hispanic community in central Las Vegas should form the basis for one of the four congressional districts in any new redistricting plan.

Attorney Marc Elias, representing Democrats, argued that while communities of interest should be considered, there is no requirement in the federal Voting Rights Act that a predominantly Hispanic district be created.

Special Master Thomas Sheets, from left, GOP attorney Mark Hutchison and Democrat attorneys Mark Braden and Marc Elias confer after the redistricting hearing today. / Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau.

After the hearing, Hutchison said: “The court is going to take care to make sure this process is fair and from the beginning that’s all the Republicans have wanted, for the process to be fair. We want to start with a level playing field and let the chips fall where they might. We’re just opposed to any sort of a partisan Democratic slant to this process and I think we got that today.”

Hutchison said he will not appeal Russell’s ruling on how the redistricting process should be carried out by the special masters.

Elias declined to say whether he would appeal Russell’s ruling on the guidelines for the special masters on how to draw the maps.

“I always take these things one step at a time,” he said. “I’m here today and I’m going to wait for the ruling.

“Look, you heard the same thing I did – I think he said he was going to take this under advisement, he obviously listened attentively, he said he was going to do some research and then I expect we will hear from him.”

Russell has appointed the three special masters – Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover, Las Vegas attorney Thomas Sheets and former legislative Research Director Bob Erickson – to draw new political districts.

The issue ended up in the courts when a bipartisan plan could not be hammered out between Democrats and Republicans in the 2011 legislative session.

The Democrat-controlled Legislature passed two redistricting plans, both of which were vetoed by GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval.

While not immediately ruling on the Hispanic congressional district question, Russell did announce some developments in his plan to resolve the dispute.

He announced that the special masters will hold two public hearings, one in Las Vegas on Oct. 10 in the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, and the other Oct. 11 in the Carson City legislative building, to take comment from interested parties on what Nevada’s new districts should look like.

Following those hearings, the special masters will have until Oct. 21 to submit new political maps to the court. Russell said he will then release their report and proposed maps to the public.

Russell said that by Nov. 15 or 16 he will decide whether to accept the maps as drawn by the special masters or send the issue back for any specific revisions he deems necessary.

Regardless of how he rules, the redistricting issue is expected to end up in front of the Nevada Supreme Court, and could be appealed into the federal court system as well.

Elias asked Russell to use Senate Bill 497, the second redistricting measure passed by Democrats but vetoed by Sandoval, as the starting point for the special masters to draw new districts.

Hutchison and other attorneys representing Republicans rejected the idea, saying the maps approved for the 2001 redistricting, along with the many sets of maps proposed this year by lawmakers and citizens, could all be considered by the special masters as a starting point.

Attorney Daniel Stewart, representing Clark County resident Daniel Garza, who opposed SB497, said the congressional districts in the bill inappropriately “fractured” the Las Vegas Hispanic community into three different districts to create three safe Democrat congressional seats.

“This is a perfect example of what I think the masters shouldn’t do,” he said.

But Elias warned that any effort to focus exclusively on creating one Hispanic congressional district could lead to “racial gerrymandering” which would put any plan approved by Russell at risk for a federal court challenge. It is not possible to draw a congressional district in Las Vegas that would have a majority of eligible Hispanic voters, he said.

There is also no evidence of block voting by white residents that has thwarted the efforts of Hispanics to elect candidates of their choice, Elias said, noting the election of Sandoval, who is Hispanic.

One of the experts cited by Republican as evidence of block voting by whites was the election of former state Sen. Bob Coffin to the Las Vegas City Council in Ward 3, defeating Hispanic candidate Adriana Martinez in the process, he said. But the expert failed to note that Coffin is of Hispanic heritage himself, Elias said.

“Nevada is not Mississippi,” he said. “There is no white block voting in Clark County.”

Attorneys also argued their positions on other issues, including whether two state Assembly districts should be drawn to fit exactly within each state Senate seat, a process called “nesting.”

They also argued whether “representational fairness”, or consideration of how many “safe” seats each political party should have, is appropriately before the special masters.

A number of prominent Democrats have either announced or are said to be interested in running for the Southern Nevada congressional seats even though the district lines have yet to be drawn. Already announced candidates include Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, former Rep. Dina Titus who lost to Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., in the 2010 election, state Sen. John Lee of North Las Vegas and state Sen. Ruben Kihuen of Las Vegas. Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford of Las Vegas is also said to be interested in running for Congress.

-

Audio clips:

GOP attorney Mark Hutchison says Republicans want a level playing field:

092111Hutchison :25 got that today.”

Democrat attorney Marc Elias says Judge Russell listened attentively and will issue his ruling after conducting some research:

092111Elias :15 hear from him.”

Democrat Congressional Candidate Oceguera Says He Will Face Off Against GOP Incumbent Heck In 2012 If Necessary

By Sean Whaley | 3:40 pm August 17th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Assembly Speaker and announced candidate for Congress John Oceguera acknowledged today that a number of Democrats are seeking seats in the House of Representatives in the 2012 election, and that hopefully any costly primary battles can be avoided.

Oceguera, who announced in July he will run as a Democrat for Congress despite the fact that lines for what will ultimately be four districts remain theoretical only, said a primary battle between two Democrats for one or more of the seats would not be beneficial.

While unlikely, a primary battle is a possibility and Oceguera said he is prepared for such a scenario. But a primary would not help any of the candidates, and hopefully could be avoided “in the spirit of cooperation,” he said.

Former Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., has announced she intends to run again for a seat in Congress. State Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, is also an announced candidate. State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford and state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, both D-Las Vegas, are also potential candidates for one of the seats.

Democrat Assembly Speaker John Oceguera.

Oceguera made his comments during an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

The district lines remain undecided because the Legislature failed to approve a redistricting plan based on the 2010 census that met with approval of both Democrats and Republicans. Two Democrat plans were vetoed by GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval. The issue is now in front of Carson District Judge James Todd Russell with no clear timetable on when it will be resolved. It will likely end up before the Nevada Supreme Court.

Oceguera said he does not know what district he will end up in, but that he may have to face Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., who represents the 3rd Congressional District. Heck is a freshman who defeated Titus in the 2010 election.

Oceguera, who lives near Heck in Clark County, said he is not concerned with the possibility of facing an incumbent in his congressional run. Oceguera, who is termed out of the state Assembly, is a North Las Vegas firefighter, attorney and fourth generation Nevadan, born in Fallon.

Heck’s district has elected both Republicans and Democrats, he said.

“Where ever I end up, as far as where the maps are drawn, is where I will run,” Oceguera said.

Ryan Erwin, a political consultant to Heck, said in response to Oceguera’s comments: “Commenting on every Democrat candidate looking for the title of Congressman would be a full time job.

“Dr. Heck has been spending his time helping constituents and trying to get the federal government out of the way of small businesses trying to create jobs,” he said. “The truth is, creating an environment that allows Nevada businesses to grow, invest and hire new employees is far more important to Joe Heck than who might run against him next year.”

Oceguera announced his intention to run in July, saying it would be too late to mount a competitive campaign if he waited until the redistricting issue is decided. While fundraising is difficult in such an uncertain situation, waiting until the 2012 filing period next spring is unworkable, he said.

Oceguera said it will take between $2 million and $3 million to run a competitive race, and that he expects to have about $250,000 by the first reporting period.

Oceguera said he is running on his legislative record, including job creation efforts in the 2011 session, and on his history of hard work and desire to seek compromise on issues facing the state.

“It is something we’re sorely missing in Washington, DC, right now,” he said.

Oceguera said he and his fellow lawmakers fulfilled their promises in the 2011 legislative session.

“We said we were going to cut – we did, we cut,” he said. “We said that we were going to reform – we did, we reformed. We said that we were going to balance our budget – we did, we balanced our budget. And we said we were going to end on time and we did that as well. So I think that is a pretty strong record in the last legislative session.

“I’ve been strong on education, I think I’ve been strong for business,” Oceguera said. “I don’t know that that’s all I will run on, but I think my legislative record is solid.”

Audio clips:

Congressional candidate John Oceguera says the Legislature fulfilled its promises in the 2011 session to balance the budget, cut spending and make reforms:

081711Oceguera1 :25 last legislative session.”

Oceguera says he is strong on education and for business:

081711Oceguera2 :09 record is solid.”

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera Announces Bid For Congress In As-Yet Undetermined District

By Sean Whaley | 5:17 pm July 18th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Term limited Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, today announced he will run for Congress in one of four districts that have yet to be finalized in Nevada’s contested redistricting process.

Oceguera, a native fourth-generation Nevadan, said he wants to bring his skills in finding compromise on difficult issues honed in the Nevada Legislature over the past nearly dozen years to the House of Representatives.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera announced today he will run for Congress.

“I think what I bring to the table is kind of a common sense approach,” he said. “I think I’ve been successful in finding solutions in the Legislature and I think I will be successful in Congress.

“I think Nevadans are kind of fed up with the way it’s going in DC and I’m looking to help the middle class, the folks that rely on social security and Medicare,” Oceguera said. “I believe that they deserve someone that will fight for them and that’s what I intend to do.”

Oceguera, an assistant fire chief in North Las Vegas, said he decided to announce his candidacy even though the Nevada redistricting process is in the courts, where it could remain for some time before finally being decided.

“I’m of the belief that redistricting is going to be wrapped up in the court system for a number of months, and that might put us all the way as far as next year,” he said. “And you really can’t start a congressional campaign in the same year that the election is going to be held. You have to get started.”

Oceguera currently resides in the 3rd Congressional District represented by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., but he said that could change by the 2012 election. Oceguera said he will challenge Heck if that is where he ends up.

“But I think it is really too soon to know one way or the other where we’re going to be because we have no idea how those lines are going to be drawn at this point,” he said.

The Democrat-controlled Nevada Legislature sent two redistricting bills to GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, but they were vetoed out of a concern the proposals violated the federal Voting Rights Act. The issue is now in Carson City District Court and will likely be decided by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Oceguera’s announcement prompted Amy Tarkanian, chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party, to describe him as a career politician “looking for a new gig.”

“Oceguera’s bid for Congress, made before even understanding or caring about the constituency he claims to want to represent, is an action of a termed-out assemblyman who is panicking at the thought of losing one of his government paychecks,” she said.

Tarkanian criticized Oceguera for attempting to push through a $1.3 billion tax hike in the 2011 session.

“Oceguera’s colleagues rejected his proposal then and Nevadans will reject him in 2012,” she said.

In response, Oceguera said public service is “not a bad thing.”

“I’m proud of what I’ve done as a fire fighter and the people I’ve helped,” he said. “I’m proud of what I’ve done in the Legislature and the Nevadans I’ve helped there and I want to continue that service. Certainly if I wanted to go into the private sector and make money that’s what I would be doing, but I choose to go and serve the public and I think that record speaks for itself.”

Audio clips:

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera says he can’t wait for redistricting to be resolved before starting a campaign:

071811Oceguera1 :24 to get started.”

Oceguera says he brought a common sense approach to compromise in the Legislature and will do so in Congress:

071811Oceguera2 30 successful in Congress.”

Oceguera says he is proud of his public service:

071811Oceguera3 :29 speaks for itself.”

Oceguera says Nevadans are fed up with what is happening in Washington, DC:

071811Oceguera4 :20 intend to do.”

 

Nevada Redistricting Efforts Remain In Flux After Court Hearing This Week

By Sean Whaley | 1:34 pm July 15th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Efforts to resolve Nevada’s redistricting impasse remain a work in progress after a proposal floated Tuesday by a Carson City judge to use county election officials to draw new legislative and congressional lines ran into some opposition.

The job of redrawing Nevada’s political lines has fallen to District Judge James Todd Russell after two Democrat-approved redistricting plans were vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Sandoval vetoed the measures after concluding the proposals did not follow the federal Voting Rights Act.

A close-up of one of the many redistricting maps proposed at the Nevada Legislature / Photo by Elizabeth Crum via iPhone

Russell took the attorneys representing the two major political parties by surprise when, rather than opting to hear the evidence and make a decision, he proposed using the Washoe, Clark and Carson City voter registrars as “special masters” to draw the new political boundaries for his consideration.

The Las Vegas Sun reported that Clark County Registrar Larry Lomax rejected the idea after consulting with County Manager Don Burnette.

Redistricting must be accomplished in time for the 2012 election season, which begins early next year. Redistricting happens every 10 years following the census.

Russell gave the parties until July 20 to come up with their suggestions for special masters to help with the process.

Appearing on the Nevada NewsMakers television program on Wednesday, Republican Party attorney Mark Hutchison said the suggestion caught a lot of people attending the court hearing by surprise.

“We were, I think, a little surprised by the suggestion but I think once you understood why the judge did it, it made all the sense in the world,” he said. “He’s looking for, and he said this, a nonpartisan approach. He wants to do the right thing, follow the law, and he doesn’t want a bunch of politically motivated people there involved in the process.

“Judge Russell has presented a very unique process,” Hutchison said. “He wants to have the parties involved in the process, but he wants to have people who are going to be nonpartisan and have the information so that he can do his job. It’s a very unique process that I don’t know exists anywhere else in the country.”

Hutchison said he does not believe the redistricting process will be resolved in a special session of the Legislature. More likely Russell will present a plan that will ultimately be acted on by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Marc Elias, representing the Democratic Party in the case, was quoted in the Nevada Appeal as suggesting that before special masters propose a new set of political boundaries, that there should first be a decision on whether the Democrat plans violate the Voting Rights Act.

“Maybe if we resolve the voting rights issue, there would at least be a basis for the masters to start,” he said.

Because of Nevada’s population growth, the state is getting a fourth congressional district, requiring a major redrawing of the existing three districts. The 21 state Senate and 42 Assembly districts must also be redrawn to make populations approximately equal.

There is also a mandate to ensure equitable representation of minorities in the process, with Republicans supporting the creation of a majority Hispanic congressional district in Southern Nevada.

Audio clips:

Republican Party attorney Mark Hutchison says the attorneys were surprised by Russell’s plan to resolve the redistricting impasse:

071511Hutchison1 :15 in the process.”

Hutchison says Russell’s plan is unique:

071511Hutchison2 :12 the country, Sam.”

 

 

Republicans Release Redistricting Data, Lay Out Terms For Two-Party Negotiations

By Andrew Doughman | 12:45 pm May 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Republicans today announced they have released to the public a set of complicated data about their redistricting proposal.

Democrats had said earlier the release of the data is a requirement before the two parties can begin to work toward a compromise.

The release of the data brightens an otherwise gloomy portrait of partisanship. Republicans and Democrats have so far elected not to negotiate terms in the redistricting battle.

When Democrats learned of the release, they issued a statement saying they will freeze their bill, now before the Senate, so that Republicans and Democrats can compare their plans and look for “common ground.”

“We welcome this opportunity to finally compare these two proposals and look forward to quickly investigating the potential for compromise with our friends on the other side of the aisle,” Democrats said in a statement.

Republicans seemed to have answered the call of Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, who asked Republicans to release their data.

“We had constituents calling us, so we thought we’d be open and transparent,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon. “The product wasn’t really ours. It was produced by folks who are working on redistricting for us and they wanted to make sure everything was correct [before releasing data].”

The data question had stalled any talk of compromise between Republicans and Democrats, who every 10 years must create revised boundaries for seats for Congress and the state Assembly and Senate according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

Republicans responded to the Democratic call for compromise, saying they are “willing to negotiate.” They did, however, lay out terms for negotiation.

Senate Republicans released a statement this afternoon in which they said they “insist” on pre-conditions for negotiation.

They want a fixed number of majority-minority Hispanics: one in  Congress, four in the state Senate and eight in the state Assembly. That quota is identical to what Republicans originally called for in their proposal.

They also called for eight competitive state Senate and eight competitive state Assembly districts.

“We believe the Voting Rights Act requires fair representation of Hispanics in the U.S. Congress, Nevada State Senate and Nevada Assembly,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas. “We also believe that no political party should have a monopoly on power.”

Democrats later rejected the premise for establishing terms of negotiation prior to meeting with Republicans.

“We stand ready, without preconditions, to meet and discuss a way forward,” legislative Democrats said in a statement released this afternoon.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has already vetoed the previous Democratic redistricting plan, saying it treated Nevada’s Hispanic population unfairly and did not comply with the federal Voting Rights Act.

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 by a judge.

The gridlock continued yesterday as Democrats elected to hear their second redistricting proposal but declined to hear the Republican proposal since the Republican data had yet to be released. Instead, Democrats voted on their own proposal.

Republicans had said they objected to the way Democrats were moving Democratic bills without hearing a Republican proposal.

But Democrats had said they wanted an “open and transparent” process from Republicans.

The data would allow Democrats and members of the public to examine the exact boundaries of districts proposed in the Republican bill.

Although Republicans provided a bill, the 194-page document contains arcane references to Census block tracts, which are nearly impossible for people to visualize.

The Legislature’s information-technology staff has had the complex data, but Republicans had not authorized them to release it until today.

 

Democrats Refuse To Hear Republican Redistricting Proposal After Tiff

By Andrew Doughman | 8:50 pm May 19th, 2011

CARSON CITY – After Republican legislators declined to reveal exact data for their redistricting proposal, Democrats refused to give the bill a hearing today.

Then, Democratic legislators voted over Republican objections to pass their own redistricting proposal to a vote on the Senate floor.

Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed the previous Democratic redistricting plan, which proposed revised boundaries for Congressional districts, as well as state Assembly and Senate districts, as required by the 2010 Census.

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 by a judge.

Republicans  contended that Democrats were trying to blitz through hearings and pass their bill without making an effort to compromise.

“If we knew that there was going to be some meaningful working together on these maps and this other one wasn’t going to be pushed out like the last one was, we would be more than happy to,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas.

The statement, however, contradicted what Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, told the Las Vegas Sun.

“I’m going to call our guy now and see if we can’t get it released,” he said of the data in a Las Vegas Sun story published last week. “The public needs to be able to compare the maps.”

Yesterday, Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that he would discuss releasing the data with GOP attorneys, but he first wanted a hearing on the Republican bill.

Democrats, who control the Legislature’s committees because they are the majority party, first scheduled a hearing for the Republican proposal, but decided not to hear it after Republicans did not release their data.

“We can’t have an open and honest conversation about these maps while the data is being withheld from the public,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “I would move that we move on and not hear the bill as scheduled. There can be no discussion or deliberation without the information provided to the public.”

Although Republicans provided a bill, the 194-page document contains arcane references to Census block tracts, which are nearly impossible for people to visualize.

Cegavske said Republicans have provided maps for people to examine, but Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, contended that the exact data used to construct the maps have not been made public, therefore making the maps impossible to analyze or evaluate.

The Legislature’s information-technology staff has the complex data, but has not been authorized to release it.

“I am happy to come to the table to compromise, but that’s impossible when the other side is not releasing all the data to the public so this can be a fair open and transparent process,” Horsford said.

Cegavske countered that Republicans want an open process.

“It is supposed to be fair and open and that’s all we have ever asked for,” she said.

She said that Democrats had “fast-tracked” Democratic proposals through the Senate and Assembly, which gave no time for true compromise.

After the hearing, Cegavske said nobody but the Democratic Party has requested the data. Holding the 194-page Republican bill, she said the data Democrats want is in her hand.

“All you have to do is work this backwards,” she said. “It’s all here … they can do it in a heartbeat.”

She said it was a “mistake” for Democrats to have released the Democratic data in the first place.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, who was standing nearby, said Democrats “want us to do their homework.”

During the evening hearing in the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee, legislators spent little time debating the actual merits or faults of any redistricting proposal.

Legislators briefly discussed the federal Voting Rights Act, with Cegavske asking if the Democratic proposal complies with the federal law and Democrats asserting that it does.

Legislators were chided during opportunity for public comment.

“The ACLU is certainly disappointed in political posturing on both sides of the aisle,” said Rebecca Gasca of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. “We think that the Legislature is doing a disservice to constituents in this state.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Governor Sandoval Vetoes Democratic Redistricting Plan

By Andrew Doughman | 2:20 pm May 14th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval has vetoed the Democratic redistricting plan for new Congressional, state Senate and Assembly districts.

Sandoval, in a veto statement issued today, said that the Democratic plan violated the federal Voting Rights Act, which governs how ethnic minorities should be treated when the boundaries of political districts are drawn, and was created for the partisan gain of Democrats.

The veto represents the first rejection of proposed maps, drawn according to 2010 Census data, in what could be a long path toward compromise.

If the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor cannot reach common ground, the drawing of political districts may become a matter for the courts to decide. Anticipating the veto, Democrats have another redistricting bill that they can amend and send back to the governor.

At stake is the political representation of Nevada’s Hispanic community. Sandoval charged that the Democratic plan would dilute the Latino vote.

“Of the four Congressional seats it establishes, not one contains a Hispanic majority—though such a district can clearly and simply be drawn, consistent with traditional redistricting principles,” Sandoval’s statement read.

A Republican plan that did not receive a vote created a congressional district with a  50.7 percent total Hispanic population.

The governor also said the Democratic plan would not “afford Hispanics an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choosing.”

In an earlier speech on the Assembly floor, Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, asked whether this logic implied that only a Hispanic majority could elect a Hispanic candidate.

“Nevada has proven that Hispanic and other minority candidates can and have been elected in minority influence districts,” she said.

Sandoval, Nevada’s first Hispanic governor, was himself elected with a majority of the white vote while losing the Hispanic vote.

In a Republican redistricting plan, Republicans created eight Hispanic-majority seats in the Assembly, four in the Senate and one in Congress.

Democrats spread Hispanic voters throughout more districts, creating two Senate, three Assembly and no congressional districts with a majority Hispanic population

Democrats responded to the veto and called the assertions that their party violated the Voting Rights Act “legally absurd.”

“It is nothing but a smokescreen in an attempt to obscure the partisan ambitions of a party that has a pathetic record on issues of minority rights,” the Democrats said in a statement released following the veto.

Some have said that partisan politics are behind the rhetoric.

During the 2010 election, Hispanics overwhelming voted for Democratic candidate Rory Reid in the gubernatorial race and incumbent Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Senate race.

A Hispanic population diffused over many districts should then create more Democratic-leaning districts while a Hispanic population concentrated in one district should create more Republican-leaning districts.

Hispanics now comprise 26 percent of Nevada’s population and are a voter bloc that both parties cannot ignore.

One in seven eligible voters in Nevada are Latinos, the sixth-largest Hispanic eligible voter population share nationally, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Sandoval also said the Democratic plan seemed to benefit Democratic candidates politically.

“At its core, this bill creates districts that were drawn exclusively for political gain,” he said.

In earlier statements, Republicans had contended that Democrats had not drawn enough competitive districts and had created too many Democratic-leaning districts.

Democrats would have a voter registration advantage in three of Nevada’s four congressional districts in their proposal.Republicans would create a 2-2 split.

Republican incumbent Rep. Joe Heck would also lose a Republican majority in his congressional district under the Democratic proposal.

The Democratic proposal promises a 30 – 12 Democratic split in the Assembly and a 14 – 7 advantage in the Senate, according to voters registered Democratic and Republican in each proposed district.

The Republican proposal reflects a 26 – 16 Democratic advantage in the Assembly, which is the current ratio in the Assembly. The Republican plan for the state Senate would create 14 seats with more voters registered as Democrats and seven seats with a Republican voter advantage.

The Legislature is required to redraw the boundaries of political districts every 10 years based on changes in population released through the U.S. Census.