Las Vegas Sun

July 22, 2014

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Democrats don’t object to redistricting plan

CARSON CITY – Democrats launched no major objections to the Congressional and Legislative reapportionment plan drawn by a panel of masters.

But the Republicans who didn't like the plan failed to make the 5 p.m. deadline Monday to have their comments and objections filed. The Carson City Clerk’s Office said it had not received any documents from the GOP by closing time.

There were two objections from rural Nevada about being lumped with Las Vegas.

District Judge Todd Russell named a three-member panel to draw up the districts since the Legislature failed to do it in its regular session. The judge gave the parties until the close of business Monday to file their objections.

Attorney Matthew Griffin, representing the Democrats, said his party would have preferred its redistricting plan pushed through the Legislature but vetoed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

But Griffin said the facts found by the special masters “are unassailable and the masters carefully applied traditional redistricting criteria.”

An analysis of the panel’s reapportionment plan by the Sun’s David McGrath Schwartz shows the Democrats would have an edge in two of the four Congressional Districts with one favoring Republicans and one a toss-up.

Democrats now have an 11-10 edge in the state Senate. An analysis of the new Senate Districts shows nine safe Democratic seats, three leaning Democrat, four safe Republican, one leaning Republican and four tossup seats.

The makeup of the Assembly, according to the examination, shows 22 safe Democrat, four leaning Democrat, nine safe Republican, two leaning Republican and five tossups. The makeup now is 26 Democrats and 16 Republicans.

Judge Russell has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to hear what the parties want changed in the panel’s recommendation.

The Democrats found one error in the maps. Using an outdated address for Assemblyman William Horne, the panel drew him into a Las Vegas district with Assemblyman Marcus Conklin. This could be changed by moving a very small group of people, said the Democrats. Both Horne and Conklin are Democrats.

Secretary of State Ross Miller raised the question of what standards were used by the panel in drawing up a Congressional District in Southern Nevada that has nearly 43 percent Hispanic. He said the panel should make it clear whether the figure was based on total population, voting age population or citizen voting age population or some combination.

He said it was not clear what data the panel relied upon.

Objections to the proposed redistricting were filed by the Eureka County Board of Commissioners and former Elko Assemblyman John Carpenter.

Eureka County complained that the proposed state Senate district would encompass Eureka County and included part of the urbanized area near Las Vegas. The commissioners said this “dilutes rural representation. If rural areas of this great state no longer receive dedicated representation, a vital aspect and viewpoint to the issues facing Nevada will be lost.”

Former Elko Assemblyman John Carpenter, who served 24 years in the Legislature, also lodged the same complaint, saying Elko County would also include parts of Clark County including west of North Las Vegas and Mount Charleston.

Carpenter said, “My greatest fear is that some day the northern rural counties, the cow counties, would be represented by a senator from Southern Nevada.”

An objection was also filed by Alex Garza of Las Vegas that the Hispanics would not have a majority in one congressional district. And he said the new lines would jeopardize those few districts now represented by Hispanic legislators.

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