New York Redistricting Advances

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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) – The New York State Independent Redistricting Commission members, on a 9 to 1 vote, adopted a new congressional redistricting map late last week, but the process is far from over.

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Reps. Suozzi and D’Esposito

The Commission members basically codified the court-drawn 2022 plan, passing what is commonly termed a “least change” map. The plan left intact the footprint of the court design, and only effectively altered three districts. Even in those domains, the changes were minimal.

The Commission left all of Long Island virtually unchanged, meaning Rep.-Elect Tom Suozzi, D-Glen Cove, would next seek reelection in the same district where he was just elected last week.

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, R-Island Park, who represents the most Democratic district of any Republican in the nation, would also see his seat remain constant, thus yielding a difficult reelection fight. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D’Esposito’s district as leaning Democratic by 10 percentage points.

The plan may not see the light of day.

The New York City map was also left as is, which is particularly good news for the municipality’s lone Republican House member, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-Staten Island.

Upstate Changes

The changes came  upstate. Rep. Pat Ryan, D-Gardiner, who had won his 18th District seat by just over one percentage point in 2022, would now have a district that is slightly more Democratic. Under the current lines, Joe Biden carried the seat with a 53-45% margin. Under the new plan, Biden would have scored a 55-44% victory, according to the Daily Kos Elections statisticians.

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Republican Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-Red Hook, would also marginally benefit from the new draw. In 2022, Biden won the 19th District with a 51-47% margin. The new 19th would have yielded a 50-48% win for Biden.

The GOP incumbent who fares the worst is freshman Rep. Brandon Williams, R-Syracuse. Again, according to the Daily Kos Elections unit, Biden won the current 22nd District with a 53-45% margin. The new plan would have increased the Democratic margin by a net four points: 55-43%.

Legislature Must Approve

While this map would generally be favorable to Republicans because it would allow them to remain competitive in seats outside of New York City, the plan may not see the light of day in the legislature. Under New York redistricting procedure, the legislature must approve the Independent Commission map. With huge majorities in both houses and a partisan governor, the legislature could reject the Commission map and draw its own.

This was even too far for the Democratic courts.

Such a move would undoubtedly make the plan more favorable for Democrats, but so is the current one, as well as the latest Commission map. The latter two are designed for seven Republican seats from the state’s 26-member delegation. In the 2022 election, Republicans overperformed in that they won four more seats than originally projected. Therefore, as they did with the Suozzi win in the District 3 special election, the Democrats could easily gain at least three more seats as the map is presently drawn.

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The question remains:  Will the New York Legislature go for more? In 2022, it overreached to the point of drawing a map favoring Democrats over Republicans by a margin of 22 to 4. This was even too far for the Democratic courts, which rejected the plan.

Though they may redraw the Commission map, state legislators could find themselves in a difficult position to sustain a stronger gerrymander. With the Commission and the previous court basically seeing eye to eye, a partisan gerrymandering lawsuit against a different and more egregious map may receive a favorable court decision.

In any event, the New York redistricting process still has a long way to go. The Commission, the members of which could not forge majority agreement on a map in the previous cycle, is now almost unanimous in approving the court footprint with only minor population changes. Therefore, the legislators’ next redistricting move will require sound strategic thought.

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