Republicans keep redistricting on table as session begins

GOP leaders inserted redistricting language into the rules governing the 78th legislative session, a maneuver designed to keep an important bargaining chip in play while limiting mischief from within the Ass. GOP Caucus.

The language, which is here in Rule 13, enables redistricting only if the chairmen of key committees introduce it or if leadership desires to do so. But why start the session off on such a presumably partisan note, although Assembly Democrats supported the language while Senate Democrats did not?

Two reasons, reliable sources inform me:

1. To prevent fringe members of the Ass. GOP caucus from embarking on redistricting, limiting those who could begin the process. (That explains the Assembly Democrats' assent to the move.)

2. To keep the possibility of redistricting, which could level a playing field now slanted in the Democrats' favor, on the table. Why would the GOP take that arrow out of its quiver so early?

I had speculated right after the election that this might happen. So it should come as no surprise.

The Democratic Party folks get it, so they put out their first screaming release of the session: "NV Dems Call on Sandoval & Roberson to Disavow Any Attempts to Redraw Redistricting Maps"

And this from hit man Zach Hudson:

“With legislative Republicans changing the joint standing rules to include language on redistricting, today Nevada Democrats are calling on Governor Sandoval and Michael Roberson to reject any attempts to redraw Nevada’s district maps before the end of the decade.  Just two months ago, Roberson’s Assistant Majority Leader, Ben Kieckhefer, praised the existing maps for being drawn by a 'nonpartisan panel.'  I urge Nevada Republicans to not take a page from Michael Roberson’s old boss Tom DeLay's book by trying to gerrymander district maps to make them more favorable for Republicans.  Governor Brian Sandoval and Michael Roberson should immediately disavow any attempts to rig the election system by redrawing the maps before the next census.”

And Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford was quite outraged, too: 

“It’s unfortunate that our Republican colleagues felt the need to exclude the public from participating in the redistricting process,” said Democratic Leader Sen. Aaron D. Ford. “Any redistricting effort in Nevada should be an open, public process, and not a product of backroom deals by Carson City insiders.”

Oh, the humanity! As if the Democrats would not do the same thing if the majorities were reversed. (Oh, wait: They did. In 2011.)

I doubt Sandoval would support such a smashmouth move -- at least not yet. But will Roberson disavow redistricting?

"I will do no such thing," the majority leader told me. Why would he?

And it's only Day One.