Sandoval 'pleased' with revised maps

Gov. Brian Sandoval said Tuesday that he's "pleased" with the legislative and congressional district maps drawn by the special masters and Carson District Judge Todd Russell.

He made the comments after a state Board of Examiners meeting.

"And I understand none of the parties are going to appeal," he added.

But he also pointed out that the 30-day window for filing a notice of appeal hasn't yet run. The clock started Friday, when the order was entered, so if no notice of appeal is filed by Dec. 5, the maps will become final.

Russell approved the maps after making changes to two Assembly and three Senate districts. Those changes resolved several complaints filed by the Democratic and Republican party lawyers handling the case.

Russell approved the lines setting the court congressional districts after both parties indicated they had no real issues with them. One of those districts has 42.7 percent Hispanic voters, resolving part of Sandoval's original objection to the lines drawn by the Democratic majority in the Legislature. He vetoed both bills sent to him by the Democrats at the end of the 2011 Legislature as partisan and unfair to Hispanic voters in Nevada.

In addition, the Nevada Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of mandamus filed by the secretary of state's office, canceling the high court's scheduled hearing on legal issues in the case. Russell made rulings in approving the maps that effectively disposed of the issues raised in that petition.

The lawsuit was filed even before the Legislature failed to produce maps during session. Russell's first question to all parties in the case was to ask whether any of them believed that his court lacked jurisdiction or objected to his using a team of special masters to actually draw the district boundaries. None raised any objections.

Russell then named as special masters Las Vegas lawyer Tom Sheets, who has extensive arbitration experience; Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover, a former lawmaker with experience in the redistricting process; and Bob Erickson, former head of the Legislative Counsel Bureau's Research Division, who managed the redistricting process twice in before his retirement.

At the October hearing, Russell tweaked the lines for state Senate seats held by Barbara Cegavske and Elizabeth Halseth, both Republicans, and Allison Copening, a Democrat. The changes reduced the Democrat advantage from 8.9 percent in the case of Halseth and Copening to 7.26 and 6.95 percent, respectively. Cegavske's district went from 1.3 percent Republican in registration to 1.3 percent Democrat - about what it has been for the past decade.

He also moved the line between Assembly districts held by Democrats William Horne and Marcus Conklin to prevent them from having to run against each other. The masters tried to avoid pitting incumbents against each other, but when they first drew the lines, they didn't know that Horne had moved.

In the only other places where incumbents would be in conflict with each other, one is either "termed out" or planning to run for a different office next year.

The masters also accomplished a goal that has eluded lawmakers for 40 years: nesting two Assembly seats within each Senate seat.


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