A state court formally approved New York’s new congressional map late Friday, ratifying a list of House districts drawn up by a neutral expert that could pave the way for Democratic losses this fall and some of the most prominent incumbents. forcing the party’s sides to face primary matches.
The map, approved just before a midnight deadline set by Judge Patrick F. McAllister of the State Supreme Court in Steuben County, effectively unfolds a Democratic gerrymander attempt, creates a series of new rocking chairs across the state and scrambles some carefully crafted lines. those are long determined power centers in New York City.
Court-appointed mapmaker Jonathan R. Cervas made relatively minor changes to a draft proposal released earlier this week whose sweeping changes briefly united both Republicans and Democrats in annoyance and pitted Democrats against each other.
In Manhattan, the final map would still merge the seats of Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, putting the two Democratic committee leaders, who have served side by side for 30 years, on an increasingly inevitable collision course.
Another uneasy Democratic primary loomed in the Hudson in Westchester County, where two members of the Black Democratic House were drawn into one district.
But the worst outcome for Democrats appeared to be averted early Saturday morning when one of the incumbent parties, Representative Mondaire Jones, said he would waive re-election to his Westchester seat. He said he would run in a newly reconfigured 10th congressional district instead in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, a race that has already drawn the candidacy of Bill de Blasio, the former mayor of New York City, but in which no other sitting House member will participate.
Republicans were already looking at pick-up options in suburban Long Island and in the Hudson Valley’s 18th and 19th districts that could help them regain control of the House.
And in New York’s only Republican-administered district, Representative Nicole Malliotakis heaved a sigh of relief that Mr. Cervas had reversed one of the Democratic leaders’ boldest moves in the state legislature, when she defeated liberal Park Slope, Brooklyn. put in her. Staten Island based neighborhood.
Some of the most notable changes between the initial and final district lines came in Brooklyn’s historically black communities, where Mr. Cervas reunited Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights into separate districts. He had faced uproar from black lawmakers and civil rights groups after his initial proposal split them into separate seats.
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In response to feedback from community groups, Mr. Cervas has also revised the map to reunite Manhattan’s Chinatown with Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, another heavily Asian-American community, in the 10th congressional district. In both cases, he said the communities had “accidentally split” in his first proposal.
Judge McAllister’s order to approve the state’s congressional and additional Senate maps on Friday will make New York one of the last states in the nation to complete its 10-year realignment process.
But both sides were already giddy Friday over the potential for civil rights or political groups to file new, lengthy lawsuits against the cards in state or federal court.
Judge McAllister used the unusual five-page order to refute criticisms leveled at Cervas and the court in recent days, as the cards had been hastily arranged out of public view. He admitted the rushed time frame was “less than ideal” but defended the final cards as “nearly perfectly neutral” with 15 safe Democratic seats, three safe Republican seats and eight rocking chairs.
“Unfortunately, some people have encouraged the public to believe that the court is now allowed to create its own gerrymandered cards that favor Republicans,” wrote Justice McAllister, a Republican. “Something like this couldn’t be further from the truth. The court is not politically biased.”
The final card was a major disappointment to Democrats who hold all of the power in New York and had entered this year’s 10-year realignment cycle with all hopes of securing seats that could help maintain their majority in the House. They appeared to be successful in February, when the legislature passed a congressional card that would have favored their candidates in 22 of the 26 districts, an improvement over the 19 Democrats currently holding.
But Republicans filed a lawsuit in state court, and Judge McAllister, a judge in the rural southern part of the state, ruled the cards violated a 2014 state constitutional amendment that banned partisan gerrymandering and the trial of the Map making in New York reformed. In late April, the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, upheld the decision and ordered a court-appointed special master to redraw the lines.
Justice McAllister appointed Mr. Cervas, a postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon with little ties to New York and little experience drawing state lines, and postponed congressional and state senate elections until August 23.
On Friday, Mr. Cervas produced a 26-page report explaining the rationale of his map, trying to strike a balance between the need to protect communities of shared interest, existing districts and other constitutional requirements.
Mr. Cervas eliminated a total of one district and took it out of downtown New York to reduce the state’s congressional delegation to 26. The change was necessary after New York City failed to keep pace with national population growth in the 2020 census.
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He made a slew of other changes to the state and responded to a ton of feedback on the original proposal. For example, Mr. Cervas significantly refocused his maps for Long Island, creating districts that divided the island from north to south rather than east and west, but they remained highly competitive.
Yet, in his latest congressional card, Mr. Cervas rejected pleas from Democrats and various advocacy groups to return to a traditional east-west split of Manhattan. Had we done that, Mr. Nadler and Ms. Maloney could have run in their own districts and avoided a messy primary conflict, but the special master wrote that he “didn’t see any compelling argument from the community to change the configuration. “
Mr. Nadler and Ms. Maloney have both stated that they plan to run in the newly created 12th congressional district, which includes downtown Manhattan.
“The new district does not belong to an individual candidate, but to the voters who call it home,” Nadler said early Saturday morning.
Just to the south, a growing number of candidates have expressed their interest in running for a newly reconfigured 10th district, encompassing all of lower Manhattan and much of Brooklyn, including Park Slope and Borough Park.
Mr de Blasio announced his candidacy Friday before the lines were finalized. Hours later, Mr. Jones surprised Democrats by announcing that he would follow suit, despite having minimal ties to the district.
“This is the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement,” said Mr Jones, who is gay. “Ever since long before the Stonewall Rebellion, people of color have sought refuge within its borders.”
Representative Nydia Velazquez lives within the new district lines, but she has previously said she plans to run in the nearby Seventh District this year.
Mr Jones’s decision will help prevent another tense showdown within the party in the Lower Hudson Valley.
The potential conflict arose earlier this week when Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, the DCCC chairman charged with protecting the House majority, announced that he would seek to represent the area that currently sits in Mr Jones’s seat. The decision would have forced Mr. Jones to compete in a primary with either Mr. Maloney or fellow Progressive Congressman, Jamaal Bowman, in the neighboring 16th district.
With the cards ready, other candidates across the state were expected to announce campaigns over the weekend and start collecting petitions to get on the ballots.
Two upstate Republican incumbents also appeared to have avoided a potential primary conflict on Saturday morning. Representative Claudia Tenney said she would run for the new 24th district stretching from the suburbs of Buffalo to the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, and Representative Chris Jacobs said he would run for the 23rd district that spans the southern stratum.