2022 Election: Proposed congressional district map could hurt GOP in House battle
NEW YORK - New York Democrats are proposing new congressional district lines that will give them a pretty large advantage in this year's midterm elections.
Although New York lost a seat due to a drop in the state's population, Democratic candidates could pick up as many as 22 seats in the state's 26 House districts. That means that Republicans could lose as many as four seats this election cycle.
But how did we get here?
Redistricting is a political process in New York that has stayed political.
When Republicans controlled the Senate and Democrats controlled the Assembly in 2012, the responsibility of drawing new congressional district lines fell on a judge after the two parties couldn't agree.
In an effort to change the process, a constitutional amendment was passed by voters in 2014 which gave the power to draw these new maps to a bipartisan commission. Yet this commission was split along party lines and also failed to come to an agreement. This means that Democrats, who control both houses of the Legislature, now have full control over how these new maps are drawn.
"The maps that came out last night were gerrymandered, there's no doubt about it," New York Public Interest Research Group Executive Director Blair Horner said. "Though the courts have never ruled that gerrymandering was unconstitutional. The question is, how far can you go?"
The newly proposed maps favor Democrats heavily and even give incumbents some advantage as seen in the 10th Congressional District represented currently by Rep. Jerry Nadler.
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Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., is seen outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, January 13, 2022. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who represents the 11th Congressional District, would see her district expand to include not only Staten Island and Brooklyn's Bay Ridge but also two more left-leaning areas in Brooklyn: Park Slope and Sunset Park.
"They know they cannot beat me on merit and so they are trying to reconfigure the district to tilt the scale to give them an advantage and to also take away the voice of the people that currently reside in this district," Malliotakis said.
Max Rose previously held this congressional seat and is running again as the Democratic candidate. Obviously, he is less concerned with how the new district is shaping out.
"Whatever the lines end up being doesn't matter to me," Rose said in a statement. "I'm in this race because House Republicans like Nicole Malliotakis would rather tear America apart than help tame inflation, defeat the pandemic, and protect our democracy. Staten Island and Brooklyn deserve so much more and that's why I'm running."
State Sen. Mike Gianaris, the deputy majority leader who played a large role in crafting these new maps, defended how this new district was drawn.
"There was a time not that long ago when there was a district that was Staten Island, Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, and surrounding neighborhoods, and that's exactly what we did," Gianaris said. "So we're honoring a historical interpretation of what this district should look like."
Democrats also looked to reconfigure several swing districts, including the 3rd District, which will now span from Suffolk County through Nassau County, Queens, the Bronx and into more liberal areas of Westchester.
The district is held right now by Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi who is running for governor. This has opened the door to numerous Democratic candidates jumping in the race for the district. After looking at the new map, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi is seriously considering a run for Congress, a spokesperson said.
Proposed congressional districts in upstate New York. (Courtesy of NYS Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment)
What does this mean for you as the voter?
Once maps are approved, you could very well have someone new representing you in Congress next year. Not necessarily because you moved or voted for someone different but because the Legislature changed the district you live in.
But this is also all taking place against the backdrop of a much larger fight happening nationally. Red states like Florida, Texas, and Georgia are expected to gain Republican seats even if New York is losing them.
But these maps, proposed by the Legislature, will also be challenged legally, New York Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy confirmed.
"It's blatant gerrymandering, it's hyper-partisan and the people of this state need to reject it," Langworthy said. "We're going to go to court by any means necessary to try to bring that to justice."
These new maps will affect this year's primary, which means lawmakers are acting fast.
The Legislature is expected to vote on the congressional maps on Wednesday.
The new state Senate and Assembly district maps, which sources say could be released on Monday, are expected to be voted on by Thursday.