NEW YORK – New York Democrats propose new congressional district lines this will give them quite a significant advantage in this year’s midterm elections.
Although New York lost a seat due to a decline in the state’s population, Democratic candidates could win up to 22 seats in the state’s 26 districts. That means Republicans could lose up to four seats this election cycle.
But how did we get here?
Redistricting is a political process in New York that has remained political.
When Republicans controlled the Senate and Democrats controlled the Assembly in 2012, the responsibility for drawing new congressional constituency lines fell to a judge after the two parties could not agree.
In an effort to change the process, a constitutional amendment was passed by voters in 2014 that gave the power to draw these new maps to a bipartisan commission. Yet this commission was divided along party lines and also failed to reach an agreement. This means Democrats, who control both houses of the Legislative Assembly, now have full control over how these new maps are drawn.
“The maps that came out last night were manipulated, there’s no doubt about it,” said New York public interest research group executive director Blair Horner. “Although the courts have never ruled that gerrymandering is unconstitutional. The question is, how far can you go?”
The newly proposed maps heavily favor the Democrats and even give the incumbents some advantage, as seen in the 10th congressional district currently represented by Rep. Jerry Nadler.
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Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, RN.Y., is seen outside the United States Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. (Photo by Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who represents the 11th congressional district, would see her district expand to include not only Staten Island and Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge, but also two other left-leaning areas in Brooklyn: Park Slope and Sunset Park.
“They know they can’t beat me on merit and so they’re trying to reconfigure the neighborhood to tip the scales to give them an advantage and also to take away the voice of the people who currently reside in that neighborhood,” said Malliotakis.
Max Rose previously held that congressional seat and is running again as a Democratic candidate. Obviously, he cares less about the development of the new neighborhood.
“Whatever the lines are, it doesn’t matter to me,” Rose said in a statement. “I’m in this race because House Republicans like Nicole Malliotakis would rather tear America apart than help control inflation, beat the pandemic, and protect our democracy. Staten Island and Brooklyn deserve so much more and that’s why I’m running.”
State Sen. Mike Gianaris, the Deputy Majority Leader who played a significant role in developing these new maps, defended the way this new district was drawn.
“Not too long ago there was a neighborhood that was Staten Island, Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and surrounding neighborhoods, and that’s exactly what we did,” Gianaris said. “So we’re honoring a historic interpretation of what this neighborhood should look like.”
Democrats have also sought to reconfigure several swing districts, including the 3rd District, which will now stretch from Suffolk County to Nassau County, Queens, the Bronx and more liberal areas of Westchester.
The district is currently held by Democratic Representative Tom Suozzi, a gubernatorial candidate. This opened the door for many Democratic candidates jumping into the race for the district. After reviewing the new card, State Senator Alessandra Biaggi is seriously considering running for Congress, a spokesperson said.
Proposed Congressional Districts in Upstate New York. (Courtesy of the NYS Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Redistribution)
What does this mean for you as a voter?
Once the cards are approved, you could very well have someone new to represent you in Congress next year. Not necessarily because you moved or voted for someone else, but because the legislature changed the district in which you live.
But all of this is also taking place in the context of a much larger fight that is taking place nationwide. Red states like Florida, Texas and Georgia are expected to win Republican seats even if New York loses them.
But those maps, proposed by the Legislative Assembly, will also be legally challenged, New York Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy confirmed.
“It’s blatant gerrymandering, it’s hyper partisan and the people of this state need to reject it,” Langworthy said. “We’re going to go to court by any means necessary to try and bring this to justice.”
These new maps will affect this year’s primary, which means lawmakers are moving quickly.
The Legislative Assembly is expected to vote on the Congressional cards on Wednesday.
New maps of the Senate and State Assembly districts, which sources said could be released on Monday, are expected to be voted on by Thursday.