GOP could dent Dems Senate supermajority with new Cervas drawn maps

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New draft state Senate maps drawn by special master Jonathan Cervas. Monday, May 15, 2022.
Screenshot by Ethan Stark-Miller

Shortly after releasing new Congressional district lines Monday, Steuben County appointed special master Jonathan Cervas also unveiled new state Senate maps that could give them a slight chance at chipping away at Democrats’ supermajority in the upper chamber.

According to redistricting expert and New York Law School Professor Jeffrey Wice, Cervas drew the new lines to create 10 districts that lean Republican, 38 districts that lean Democratic and 15 that are competitive within 45 and 55 percent based on performance in the 2016 and 2020 election cycles.

Wice said the new breakdown would still make it very difficult for Republicans to win back a majority in the 63 member chamber.

“The Senate map provides a very large Democratic majority but it provides the Republicans with 10 districts and 15 becoming competitive that could go either way,” Wice said. “It still will make it very hard for the Republicans to win back a majority.”

However, Wice said, the Republicans could potentially end the Democrats’ Senate supermajority if they win 25 seats. But the chances of that happening are pretty slim.

“The Republicans at best could win 25 districts, that’s in a perfect situation,” Wice said. “But it’s highly unlikely the Republicans can pick up all 15 competitive districts. That’s not realistic.”

The release of the new Congressional and state Senate maps Monday follows a New York State Court of Appeals decision last month that struck down the maps drawn by the Democratic-controlled legislature as unconstitutional. Cervas – Carnegie Mellon University fellow – was appointed by Steuben County Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAlister to redraw the maps in a non-partisan fashion.

Two districts that were created in the Democratic legislature’s original plan were drastically changed. First, the old district 17, which included parts of Brooklyn and Queens, was completely moved – leaving a race with several candidates including Democratic socialist Kristen Gonzalez and Democratic-party backed Elizabeth Crowley in limbo.

Then while the plurality Asian district in southern Brooklyn – formerly District 27 and now District 17 – still exists, it was significantly altered. A spokesperson for Iwen Chu, one of the candidates vying to represent the district, said the district no longer includes parts of Kensington and Windsor Terrace and it was divided right through the middle of Sunset Park, the heart of Brooklyn Chinatown

While the new Senate lines almost certainly won’t put Democrats out of power in Albany, the new Congressional maps released earlier today could spell trouble for Democrats in their attempt to hold onto their House majority this election cycle.

In addition to increasing the number of competitive districts from three to eight, the new maps would also pit longtime incumbents in the New York House delegation against each other. This includes U.S. Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney in the redrawn Manhattan District 10 as well as Yvette Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries in Brooklyn’s District 8.