(Yesterday, Senator Barbara Cegavske (R-Las Vegas) addressed the June meeting of the Republican Women of Las Vegas. Below are her remarks regarding redistricting. – Ed.)
Today, I wanted to fill you in on some of what was happening with the redistricting issue. You know that it will be decided in the courts.
The Republicans worked really, really hard with the governor and his head of staff. They had a team of attorneys; they had a team of consultants; and they brought in an expert demographer. He did an excellent job.
What we emphasized was that we wanted fair maps. Absolutely fair maps for everybody. That’s what we owed to the State of Nevada, to its citizens.
With that in mind, we based everything we did on the Voting Rights Act. And by doing that, we believe we have the best maps.
I still believe that we do, and I believe that when the judge looks at them, he or she will agree with us and say, “These maps are fair.”
We also looked at what the Voting Rights Act said regarding minority populations. We now have a population of which 26 to 28% are Hispanic. When we looked at our maps, that was where we started, and we drew out from there.
We didn’t ask anybody what they wanted, and there were some unhappy Republicans at the way we drew the maps.
The Democrats also had their maps, which were very unfair. It was evident from the get-go. They refused, and told us so, to use the Voting Rights Act. They didn’t think they had to. We believed that [using the Voting Rights Act] was the proper and right thing to do, and that’s what we did.
Every time I could, I’d talk to the chairs in the Assembly and the Senate for Redistricting and asked them if we couldn’t meet, if we couldn’t get together. They’d say they’d have to talk to Leadership, and the cycle of not communicating with us went on and on.
As the very last straw, the governor asked the leadership of the two houses to get together one night. They did, they sat down, and we told Mike McGuinness what we had told everybody—that we wanted one Congressional district, four Senate districts, and eight Assembly Districts, that are called “opportunity” districts. And that is where we started.
The Democrats said the meeting was over, that they would not look at that. We asked what was wrong with the Voting Rights Act. They replied that they didn’t feel they needed to follow it, and that’s what ended the meeting.
It wasn’t the Republicans who were refusing to get along or to negotiate. The Democrats clearly knew what they wanted and they did not want fair maps.
In hindsight, we pretty much knew that going in, but we did try. We made every effort. I really believe that our maps are good. They are fair maps.
Ten years ago, there was some gerrymandering. Certain people wanted a little alcove in the map because their house was in that district. We didn’t allow any of that. We went in and said [the maps] have to be fair.
Another thing that’s really exciting is another Republican group, a Hispanic group, got together and drew their maps. They, too, used the Voting Rights Act and [their maps] turned out very good.
So, I’m hoping that when the judge looks at the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, they’ll understand. And that will give us a fair shot at getting more Republicans in the Assembly and more in the Senate.