The New York Congressional-Map Drama Just Won’t End

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The 2024 election cycle just got a little more complicated for New Yorkers.

On Monday, Albany lawmakers officially rejected the new congressional map that had been proposed by a bipartisan panel from the the state’s independent redistricting commission, setting the stage for the Legislature to draw its own district lines and potentially shake up some crucial races. The New York State Senate voted 40-17 and the State Assembly voted 99-47 to defeat the map in the latest twist of a yearslong political saga.

Several members of the Legislature had expressed concerns with the map, which was a slight modification from a 2022 version that had been drawn by a special master after New York’s highest court ruled that Democrats’ original proposal was a gerrymander. Though the redistricting commission’s proposal was not significantly different from the 2022 version, it would likely have shored shore up the districts held by two Hudson Valley incumbents: Congressman Pat Ryan, a Democrat, and Congressman Marc Molinaro, a Republican. It would also would have potentially weakened Congressman Brandon Williams’s electoral prospects by adding more Democratic-friendly territory to his district. State Senator James Skoufis criticized the commission’s decision to split Orange County and said the legislature should reject the new map, calling it “a disgrace.”

And while U.S. House Majority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who was vocal about his opposition to the the map drawn by the special master in 2022, stopped short of calling for the legislature to redraw the districts, his office said the new map “ignores or exacerbates” many of the problems previously raised.

By opting to produce its own map, the Democratic-led Legislature has the chance to influence several races ahead of an election cycle where the path to control of the House of Representatives is expected to run through New York — again. As things stand now, the Cook Political Report currently lists four seats held by freshman Republicans seeking reelection as toss-ups, a number that could potentially increase.

While while this is a prime opportunity to boost their party’s chances in November, Democrats’ efforts could also backfire. If lawmakers attempt a significant gerrymander, they risk the map getting challenged in court by Republicans and potentially even struck down, a repeat of 2022. There is speculation that because of those limitations, the Legislature will opt for only modest changes to the map, not drastic ones.

Early reports suggest that lawmakers are looking at a number of changes that would benefit Democratic candidates including adding Co-Op City in the Bronx to Congressman Jamaal Bowman’s district, per City & State. The New York Times reports that the more Republican-friendly area of Massapequa will likely be moved out of newly-elected Congressman Tom Suozzi’s district. Dave Wasserman, the senior editor of Cook Political Report, called the new proposal a “mild/moderate gerrymander.”

Regardless of their final decision, the Legislature will have to act with haste. Ballot petitioning in New York was set to begin on Tuesday, meaning that campaigns will start collecting signatures for their candidates to run in districts that could potentially change within days.

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