Republican lawmakers in Nevada this week took the first step toward solidifying their hold on a state that looks increasingly up for grabs — if those members are willing to detonate the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb in Carson City. Buried deep within the yearly package of rules that will govern how the state Assembly and Senate will operate, Republicans inserted a provision that would allow them to consider redrawing Nevada’s political boundaries. The new rules, which ordinarily govern mundane legislative procedures, such as parliamentary rules and disclosure reports, passed both chambers on party-line votes. But the threat of redrawn lines that could solidify Republican control may be less about actually implementing new maps and more about forcing Democrats to come to the negotiating table on other issues.
Redistricting, which happens every 10 years according to the U.S. Constitution, is always a highly contentious, poisonously partisan process. There’s no exception in Nevada, where the legislature draws district boundaries every 10 years, subject to the governor’s approval.
During the last redistricting process, in 2012, the Democratic-controlled legislature approved a map but couldn’t override a veto by Gov. Brian Sandoval (R). That chaos handed map-making duties to the courts, which drew the current lines.