Proposed new map would expand First Congressional District

Maps of New York State’s Congressional and Senate districts have been redrawn by a neutral expert and could be finalized this week.

New York’s first congressional district would rise slightly, to the north and west, according to a proposed map drawn by a neutral expert tasked with redrawing the boundaries of the state’s congressional district and Senate.

The expansion, which would see the district’s western edge further into Smithtown, is a minor component of Monday’s otherwise explosive release of maps drawn by Jonathan Cervas of Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Politics and Strategy. He was nominated by the state Court of Appeals last month after the court ruled that the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature redrawn the districts in violation of the state Constitution. Consequently, the New York primary elections have been postponed from June to August 23.

If passed, Mr. Cervas’ map looks likely to spur Republican gains in Washington, D.C., in November’s midterm elections, which could result in a GOP majority in the House of Representatives as well as in the Senate. The redistricting could also force some longtime Democrats in the New York delegation to run against each other.

It would represent a significant blowback for Democrats in the state Legislature, who voted in February to redraw districts following an ultimately futile bipartisan attempt. According to their proposal, the Democrats could win three seats in Washington. That would have meant 20 safe seats for them in the New York congressional delegation, just four safe seats for the Republicans and two competitive seats.

Dave Wasserman, US editor of The Cook Political Report, wrote on Twitter on Monday that according to Mr. Cervas’ redrawn maps, there are likely to be 16 safe Democratic seats against five Republican seats and five highly competitive seats. However, he suggested in a separate tweet, “it’s not hard to consider a 16D-10R (or even 15D-11R) split” if Election Day goes particularly well for Republicans.

But Nate Cohn, chief political analyst for the New York Times, also writing on Twitter on Monday, noted that only five districts under the Congressional maps proposed by Mr. Cervas had been won by Donald Trump, and that these maps are “pretty close of a better result. for Democrats. . . . Many competitive biden [congressional districts]but all voted more for Biden than [the] nation as a whole. »

The first congressional district is up for grabs, with outgoing fourth-term Rep. Lee Zeldin seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for governor of New York. According to the map drawn by the Democrats, the district would not only have expanded west to encompass more Democratic-leaning territory, but would also have lost the heavily Republican western part of the city of Southampton to the Second District. Where the First District once spanned the five East End towns, Brookhaven and part of Smithtown, it would have expanded into Nassau County, encompassing parts of Islip, Babylon, Huntington and Oyster Bay, apparently concentrating more Democratic-leaning voters.

Instead, under Mr. Cervas’ redesigned boundaries, it would look a lot like it does today. A two-day public comment period on his proposed maps ended yesterday, and he is due to submit the final maps to court by tomorrow.

If Mr. Cervas’ cards pass, at least one First CD Democratic candidate, Jackie Gordon, will live outside of it. Ms. Gordon, a former member of the Babylon Town Board, lives in Copiague, an unincorporated hamlet within Babylon and within the Second District boundaries proposed by Mr. Cervas.

“As I have said throughout this campaign, I am running to represent my home community and I will be running in the district where I live,” she wrote on Twitter on Monday.

“I am encouraged by the new lines drawn by the independent court-appointed special master,” said Anthony Figliola, candidate for the Republican nomination. “This neighborhood is crucial for the Republican Party to take back Congress and control Biden’s failed economic and social policies, which left so many families struggling to survive. Unlike some leading contenders, I won’t have to drive 45 minutes from my home to campaign in this neighborhood, because I was born and raised here.”

The reshuffling of congressional and state legislative districts follows the decennial United States Census. New Yorkers voted in 2014 to create the Independent Redistricting Commission, to introduce greater independence into the redistricting process; conduct rational line drawing and protect minority voting rights. But the commission, made up of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, couldn’t agree on a redrawn map, and the case was relegated to Albany, where Democrats hold a majority in both the Assembly and the Senate.

Republicans have accused the Legislature of gerrymandering — the manipulation of electoral boundaries to favor one party over another — which is practiced in many states and by both major parties. On March 31, a Steuben County State Supreme Court judge declared all redrawn maps of legislative districts unconstitutional, blocking their use. In April, the Appeals Division issued a stay, temporarily keeping the maps in place for the upcoming primary and general elections.

But, in a split decision on April 27, the Court of Appeals sided with the Republican plaintiffs. Following the deadlock in the Independent Redistricting Commission, “the legislature responded by creating and enacting maps in a non-transparent manner controlled exclusively by the dominant political party,” Chief Justice Janet DiFiore wrote.

After determining that the legislature failed to follow constitutional procedure and instead drew district boundaries with “unconstitutional partisan intent”, the court declared the maps void. “As a result, judicial review is necessary to facilitate the speedy creation of constitutionally compliant maps for use in the 2022 election and to safeguard the constitutionally protected right of New Yorkers to a fair election.”

This decision led to the appointment of Mr. Cervas. He was a redistricting consultant for the Pennsylvania Redistribution Commission, according to its website, and an assistant to a federal court-appointed special master to draw corrective maps in three redistricting cases involving minority rights.

In an email on Tuesday, Mr Cervas said he could not comment on his card proposals, “since I am a court officer and this is a litigation matter”.

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