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September 30, 2014

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Damon Political Report

Assembly Republicans split with Senate Republicans over redistricting plans

Pete Goicoechea

Pete Goicoechea

Walking off the Assembly floor after a redistricting hearing this evening, Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, had a difficult time containing his irritation.

In the hearing, both Republicans and Democrats presented plans they had separately crafted to redraw the state’s Assembly and Senate districts.

Democrats in both houses worked together to draw up new maps.

Republicans, however, did not. And Assembly Republicans didn’t like what they saw come out of the Senate.

“We got pretty well bent,” Goicoechea said.

Assembly Republicans had actually drawn up their own redistricting maps, but they were advised too late that their proposed districts didn’t comply with the Voting Rights Act, which governs how minority groups are to be treated in redistricting.

“We didn’t look at Republicans or Democrats or ethnic groups, we just drew lines that made sense (along geographic boundaries),” Goicoechea said.

Legislative lawyers advised Goicoechea not to release the maps.

That meant Assembly Republicans had to rely on the maps produced by Senate Republicans under the auspices of GOP consultant Mike Slanker.

“Technically, they were an outside group, and we didn’t have near the input that we should have,” Goicoechea said. “That’s our fault, too. We should’ve been more involved.”

Goicoechea said the Senate maps carve up rural Nevada along arbitrary Census block lines, resulting in single counties being divided into multiple districts. For example, in the Senate Republicans’ map, half of Churchill County would be represented by one senator and the other half by a different senator.

“They followed no geographic landmarks, no roads,” Goicoechea said.

One of Goicoechea’s main complaints was the decision by Senate Republicans to draw a single rural Senate district that stretches from the Oregon border into North Las Vegas.

“I call that gerrymandering,” Goicoechea said.

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