Published Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 | 4:24 p.m.
Updated Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 | 6:29 p.m.
Incumbent Rep. Joe Heck’s congressional seat would have more Democrats than Republicans and one central Las Vegas congressional district would be almost 43 percent Hispanic, according to maps released by the Nevada District Court today.
The masters decided against drawing a district with a majority of Hispanic voters, as Republicans wanted.
“The Special Masters concluded that bloc voting by the white majority was not shown to usually defeat a minority’s preferred candidate,” they wrote.
The three “special masters” appointed by Judge Todd Russell drew the maps after holding hearings and taking public testimony this week.
• The 1st Congressional District would cover urban Las Vegas. It would include 52 percent Democrats and 25 percent Republicans. It would have the highest percentage of Hispanics of any Nevada district, at 42.8 percent.
• The 2nd Congressional District would cover Washoe County and Northern Nevada. That seat, held by Republican Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, would be 35 percent Democratic and 42 percent Republican.
• The 3rd Congressional District, which is held by Heck, a Republican, would cover most of Southern Clark County and would be 40 percent Democratic and 37 percent Republican.
• The 4th Congressional District would include the northern parts of Clark County, most of North Las Vegas and White Pine, Minderal, Esmerelda, Nye, Lincoln and part of Lyon County. It would have 46 percent Democrats and 33 percent Republicans.
The masters -- Robert Erickson, Alan Glover and Thomas Sheets -- wrote that they “endeavored to not irregularly shape by arbitrary distortion or non-arbitrary distortion any district.”
Indeed, the 1st District is a nice neat square in the center of Las Vegas, and only Lyon County is divided among the rural counties.
The state’s constitution mandates that the Legislature pass redistricting maps after every U.S. Census. The Democratically controlled Legislature passed two sets of maps, both vetoed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Talks between the parties fizzled, though they could resume.
Democrats have five major candidates announced for the three Southern Nevada seats, setting up potentially nasty primary battles. Those candidates are Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford; Speaker John Oceguera; Sen. John Lee and Sen. Ruben Kihuen; former Rep. Dina Titus.
Oceguera lives in the 3rd District. Horsford and Lee live in the 4th District. Titus and Kihuen live in the 1st District, according to a Democratic source. That, however, does not lock them into running for those seats. Congressional candidates do not have to live in the district for which they are running.
The masters allowed that the Nevada Supreme Court “will likely determine legal, jurisdictional and procedural requirements” of the final maps.
The special masters also drew proposed maps for the state Senate and Assembly. Currently, Democrats hold the upper house of the Legislature 11 to 10.
According to a Sun analysis of state Senate districts, the new boundaries will have:
• 9 safe Democratic seats (double-digit voter registration advantage),
• three lean-Democratic seats,
• four safe-Republican seats,
• one lean-Republican seat,
• four tossup seats (essentially equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans).
Most immediately, Republicans had eyed the seats held by Democratic state Sens. Shirley Breeden and Allison Copening to switch control of the upper house. Both those candidates would have their fortunes improve, with six and seven point voter registration advantages, respectively. (Both candidates have yet to announce whether they will seek reelection.)
Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, R-Las Vegas, who won her first term in 2010, would see her seat flipped so that Democrats have 42 to 33 percentage advantages.
Under the maps proposed, one seat would move from Northern Nevada to Clark County, as expected, giving the south 15 seats and the north 6 seats.
In the Nevada Assembly, the news is not much better for Republicans.
According to a Sun analysis, the Assembly has:
• 22 safe Democratic seats,
• four lean-Democratic seats,
• nine safe Republicans seats,
• two lean-Republican seats,
• five tossup seats.
Sun reporter Anjeanette Damon contributed to this report.