AP: Malliotakis Could Be Victim of State’s Redistricting Proposal

February 1, 2022 Editorial Staff
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Would Put Several Democratic Areas Within Her District

By Marina Villenueve
Associated Press

Proposed political maps released by the leaders of New York’s Democrat-dominated legislature would give the party an advantage in 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts and mean re-election trouble for several Republican members of the U.S. House.

The new maps, released late Sunday, could lead to Democrats picking up as many as three House seats and Republicans losing as many as four in the 2022 election.

Initial votes on new congressional and legislative maps, which are being redrawn as part of the nation’s once-per-decade redistricting process, are expected Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. 

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a Staten Island-Southwest Brooklyn Republican, would have to run in a district stretched to include some of Brooklyn’s most liberal neighborhoods, including the home of the city’s former Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“They know Congressmember Malliotakis is popular and they can’t beat her on the merits or public policy, so they are changing the boundaries to tilt the scale,” Malliotakis campaign spokesperson Rob Ryan said.

New York is set to lose one seat in the House in 2023, due to slow population growth. Republicans had braced for Democrats — who represent about half of registered voters to Republicans 22% — to use their dominating legislative supermajorities to redraw district boundaries to carve up GOP strongholds.

On Long Island, the realignment would lump two Republicans, U.S. Rep. Andrew Garbarino and U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, into the same district. Much of the territory now represented by Zeldin, who is now running for governor, would become part of a more Democrat-friendly district stretching from the Hamptons to suburbs closer to New York City

Also on Long Island, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi’s district would grow more Democrat-friendly by spanning five counties from Suffolk to Westchester. The district is open as the Democrat runs for governor.

The congressional map in upstate New York would be realigned to create three GOP super districts — one of them now home to U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican — but make it tough for Republicans to win anywhere else upstate. 

The central district that U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney won narrowly in 2020 would be spread among several districts. Tenney herself would live in a Democrat-friendly district sweeping from the Hudson Valley, up to Albany and west to Binghamton and Utica — and would have to face off in the election against Democratic U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado.

In part, the maps reflect population shifts. New York City, where Democrats dominate, gained 629,000 people in the 2020 Census, while rural upstate areas home to many Republicans saw populations shrink and shift to cities.

Currently, Republicans hold 8 of New York’s 27 seats in Congress.

New York’s redistricting process is being closely watched nationally because it’s one of just a few states where Democrats hope to use map-drawing power to offset significant gains that Republicans expect to make elsewhere in the battle for control of the U.S. House.

New York’s new maps were, in theory, supposed to have been the product of a bipartisan commission voters launched in a 2014 referendum.

Republicans fared much better under Democratic and Republican commissioners’ proposals.

But the commission’s Republicans and Democrats — predictably — couldn’t come to consensus, leaving lawmakers free to come up with their own maps.

The maps will likely face legal challenges following legislative approval. In Ohio, aggrieved groups have persuaded courts to toss heavily gerrymandered political maps.

New York’s constitution was amended in 2014 to ban partisan gerrymandering, stating: “Districts shall not be drawn to discourage competition or for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring incumbents or other particular candidates or political parties.”

Some boundaries would become more convoluted: Democratic U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler’s meandering Upper West Side and Brooklyn district would grow more S-shaped by twisting through Prospect Heights.

But a political district’s “weird” shape alone doesn’t prove gerrymandering, Columbia Law School professor Richard Briffault said.

“It could be people of similar economic class, it could be people of similar ethnicity together,” he said.

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