A draft of new Congressional district lines drawn by Steuben County court appointed special master Jonathan Cervas were released Monday and it looks to give House Republicans much more of a fighting chance than they had under lines drawn by state legislature Democrats.
Cervas – a neutral expert and a fellow at Carnegie Mellon University – was tasked with drawing new Congressional and state Senate lines after the New York State Court of Appeals threw out maps drafted by the Democratic majority state legislature earlier this year on grounds that they were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Democrats.
Overall the new maps don’t look good for Democrats, who are fighting to keep control of their House majority this November. According to the court, out of the state’s 26 House seats, the new maps would create three Republican-leaning, 15 Democratic-leaning and 8 competitive seats within 45 and 55 percent performance between the two parties.
Expert on redistricting and New York Law School Professor Jeff Wice said Cervas’ proposed maps will make this year’s elections far more competitive and give Republicans a chance to pick up more House seats.
“It creates a much more competitive map with compact districts that are all equally populated,” Wice said. “It provides Republicans more opportunities to run than they had in the previous plan.”
The biggest change for New York City in these maps, Wice said, was the decision to make veteran House members Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney’s districts overlap, while cutting out the parts of Maloney’s district that included Brooklyn and Queens. Wice said this means Nadler will now have to decide whether to run in the Manhattan district that includes Maloney or in another district that includes parts of Brooklyn.
“So, Nadler is going to have to decide whether to run in the new district that has parts of his Brooklyn base or challenge Maloney in the Democratic primary,” Wice said. “And it’s not good for the Democratic Party to have a primary between two of its main leading members in the delegation.”
Nicole Malliotakis’ District 11, which the Democrats drew to include the liberal bastion of Park Slope, was only changed slightly in the new plan. It no longer includes Park Slope but now covers Sunset Park, which Wice said still gives Democrats a good chance of taking the seat.
“For instance, in the 11th District, represented by Nicole Malliotakis, that district leans 48.9 percent Democratic and 51 percent Republican,” Wice said. “But in the Democratic communities, you’ve got very active progressive parts like Sunset Park, which elected a democratic socialist to the Assembly two years ago, knocking out a 25 year incumbent. So, she’ll have a fight on her hands.”
New draft state Senate maps are also expected to be released later today.