By Katabella Roberts
New York courts on Monday released a draft map of redrawn congressional districts in the state that would make it harder for Democrats to compete in November’s midterm elections and pits some of them against each other.
The map (pdf) was drawn by a scholar on apportionment, Jonathan Cervas, who was appointed by Judge Patrick McAllister. It is not expected to be approved until Friday, if indeed it is.
An initial map adopted by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and approved in late January would have given Democrats an advantage in 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts. That map was invalidated by the New York Court of Appeals, which ruled it as “unconstitutionally gerrymandered” last month.
The latest map, if approved, would split 15 counties compared to the Legislature’s plan of 34, and would create 15 districts that favor Democratic candidates, three that favor Republicans, and eight that fall into the 45–55 percent competitive range, meaning they could go either way, according to data posted on the nonpartisan Dave’s Redistricting app.
It would also make it harder for Democrats to keep the 19 seats they currently control, according to political analysts cited by Reuters, because the national political climate favors Republicans.
Republicans only need to flip five seats nationally in the midterms later this year to claim a majority in the House.
The proposed map could also make things more complicated in the House of Representatives by placing House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) in the same district.
Democratic Reps. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) would also be redrawn into the same district.
Districts held by Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), who is running for governor, and Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.), who are both in Long Island, would become drastically more competitive too.
Responding to the newly-drawn maps on Monday, Maloney, the chair of House Democrats’ campaign arm, vowed to run for New York’s 17th district this year.
Maloney currently represents the 18th District, while first-term Rep. Mondaire Jones represents the 17th.
“While the process to draw these maps without the legislature is against the will of voters, if the newly-announced maps are finalized, I will run in New York’s 17th Congressional District,” Maloney wrote on Twitter. “NY-17 includes my home and many of the Hudson Valley communities I currently represent.”
Jones said on Monday that Maloney had failed to give him a “heads up” before making the announcement. “And I think that tells you everything you need to know about Sean Patrick Maloney,” he said.
Elsewhere, Carolyn Maloney, who is set to face Nadler, said she was “absolutely stunned.”
“I’ve never lost an election; I don’t intend to start now,” Maloney said.
House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries went as far as to release a digital advert criticizing the map and said in a statement on Monday that the draft map “dilutes the Black population in the 8th and 9th congressional districts in a manner wildly inconsistent with the constitutional mandate that communities of color should be put into position to elect the candidate of their choice.”
“The draft map released by a Judicial Overseer in Steuben County and unelected, out-of-town Special Master, both of whom happen to be white men, is part of a vicious national pattern targeting districts represented by members of the Congressional Black Caucus,” he said.
Democratic consultant and former chief of staff for the New York attorney general Neal Kwatra called it “absolutely brutal in what’s likely their most unfavorable environment since ‘94.”
However, Jeff Wice, a senior fellow at the N.Y. Census and Redistricting Institute at New York Law School said there is only a one-person deviation in this map, which he called “very precise.”
“We don’t have contorted or oddly shaped maps or districts. Nearly all of them are more compact now. They seem to reflect more communities and counties kept in tact,” Wice told Spectrum News.
New York Democrats had requested an emergency injunction to stop the Democratic-drawn lines for House seats being invalidated, but Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York denied that request last week.
“This is a Hail Mary pass, the object of which is to take a long shot to have the primary conducted on state lines that the court says is unconstitutional,” Kaplan said.
New Yorkers now have until Wednesday to offer comments on the newly-drafted map. New York’s congressional primaries are scheduled for Aug. 23.