A bipartisan redistricting commission in New York approved a new congressional map Thursday that could help Empire State Democrats make slight gains in this year’s US House elections but falls well short of an electoral windfall for the party.

New York is expected to be an epicenter in the battle for the House this fall, with Republicans’ narrow majority on the line. The GOP flipped four seats in the state in the 2022 midterms, gains that helped the party win control of the chamber.

The new map, approved 9-1 by the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission, now moves for final action to the Democratic-controlled state legislature, where its fate is unclear. Several Democrats on Thursday said they were still examining the commission’s work product and remained noncommittal.

“The Senate Majority is eager to review the proposed map,” Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the top Democrat in the state Senate, said in a statement. “We plan to discuss and decide our subsequent actions soon.”

Freshman Republican Brandon Williams – who represents parts of central New York – would see the biggest change to his district under the map approved Thursday. His new seat would include more territory favorable to Democrats – likely resulting in a Democratic pickup.

But, under the compromise crafted by the commission, two Hudson Valley seats – held by Republican Marc Molinaro and Democrat Pat Ryan – each appear to have grown safer for the incumbents.

And, notably, the commission’s map leaves largely undisturbed other House districts in the New York City suburbs, which have been viewed as potential battlegrounds in November.

Ken Jenkins, the commission’s chairman and a Democrat, described Thursday’s vote as “ultimately a victory for the commission process and for small-d democratic participation in the state of New York.”

The disputes over New York’s congressional districts have been closely followed in Washington, where the outcome of redistricting fights across the country could shape which party controls the House after November’s elections.

The GOP’s majority in the chamber narrowed further this week when Democrat Tom Suozzi won a special election to succeed expelled former GOP Rep. George Santos in New York’s 3rd Congressional District on Long Island.

If approved by the legislature, the New York map would represent a far more modest outcome than what occurred last fall in North Carolina – where the GOP-controlled legislature passed a heavily gerrymandered map that is poised to ensure Republican dominance in the state’s 14-member congressional delegation.

The New York commission’s action on Thursday came after the state’s highest court tasked the panel with drawing a new map – following a protracted legal battle.

A state court judge had overseen the process of drawing the map used in the 2022 elections after the redistricting commission had failed to agree on new lines after the 2020 census.

Democrats in the state legislature have final say over the map, holding the power to reject the commission’s plan and take over the line-drawing themselves. But that risks triggering another round of legal fights, with Republicans likely to challenge any map they view as an overly aggressive gerrymander.

In a statement, Adam Kincaid, the president and executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, which supports the GOP’s redistricting efforts, said the commission’s redistricting process “should have never been reopened” and called the panel’s map “a step back.”

As part of the compromise approved Thursday, the 16th Congressional District, which includes a slice of New York City and parts of Westchester County, remained virtually unchanged.

Two-term Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman is facing a primary challenge from George Latimer, the Westchester County executive who previously served in the New York State Assembly.

Latimer said Thursday he was moving forward with his bid and is confident that the state legislature would complete the process of approving the map. “Regardless of the timing or the ultimate disposition of the lines, we look forward to continuing to bring our message of progressive results that benefit the people of our area, in whatever neighborhood they live and whatever jurisdictions are ultimately assigned to CD-16,” Latimer said in a statement.

New York faces a court-ordered deadline of February 28 to complete its redistricting process, but it was unclear Thursday when the state legislature would next meet to consider the map.

Time is running short.

State lawmakers in New York are scheduled to be on recess next week, and House candidates are slated to begin collecting signatures for petitions to run for office on February 27. That leaves little time for lawmakers to approve – and for Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign into law – new district lines.

Approving the map would require the support of a two-thirds majority in each chamber, noted Jeffrey Wice, an expert on redistricting and an adjunct professor at New York Law School. And some legislators “don’t know what to make” of the map at the moment.

“It’s still not over yet,” Wice said.

This story has been updated with additional information.

Share.

Leave A Reply

© 2024 Time Bulletin. All Rights Reserved.