The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Democrats would face upheaval under redrawn New York congressional map

(Ted Shaffrey/AP)
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New York courts on Monday released a proposed map of redrawn congressional districts in the state that, if approved, would pit key sitting Democrats against each other and make it more likely for Republicans to gain House seats in November’s midterm elections.

The map was drawn by Jonathan Cervas, a court-appointed expert, and is all but final. State Judge Patrick F. McAllister is expected to approve Cervas’s redrawn districts Friday.

The new map would trigger certain upheaval for many Democrats. Under it, Democratic congressmen Mondaire Jones and Sean Patrick Maloney would be redrawn into the same district, setting up a potential faceoff between Jones, a left-leaning freshman lawmaker, and Maloney, who as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is trying to preserve the party’s slim House majority.

Shortly after the map’s release, Maloney stated he intended to run in the newly redrawn 17th District, even though “the process to draw these maps without the legislature is against the will of the voters.”

Maloney was also quick to note that his home would be the only one among sitting members to remain in the redrawn 17th District, though Jones already represents much of what would be the new district.

The new map would also pit Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn B. Maloney, both Democrats, against each other for a redrawn district that would cover much of Manhattan. Nadler, 74, and Maloney, 76, were both elected to Congress in 1992 and head powerful committees — Nadler the House Judiciary Committee and Maloney the Joint Economic Committee.

On Monday afternoon, Nadler stated his objection to the redrawn maps, saying he believed they violated state constitutional requirements “of keeping communities of interest together and keeping the cores of existing districts largely intact.” But he but vowed he would run in the newly created 12th District.

Carolyn Maloney also said she was running. “A majority of the communities in the newly redrawn NY-12 are ones I have represented for years and to which I have deep ties,” she said in a tweet.

Monday’s release of the redrawn map is the latest development in a long saga as Democrats and Republicans each fight to work redistricting in their favor after the 2020 U.S. Census.

The Democrats, with control over the entire New York state government, originally drew a map that would have given their party an edge in 22 districts, compared with four where Republicans would have had an advantage. The current New York congressional delegation is composed of 19 Democratic seats and eight seats for Republicans. The state lost a seat after the census reapportionment of congressional seats.

Under that map, Democrats could have gained their party as many as three new seats, a notable advantage as Democrats fight to keep their thin House majority during what many in the party fear will be a difficult election cycle.

Once every decade, states redraw their congressional district lines. The Post’s Colby Itkowitz explains why the stakes could not be higher. (Video: Zach Purser Brown/The Washington Post)

Last month, New York’s highest court struck down the Democrats’ new congressional map as unconstitutional, siding with Republicans who had sued over complaints that the new lines were drawn to help Democrats win more seats. The state’s Court of Appeals called the Democrats’ map “substantively unconstitutional as drawn with impermissible partisan purpose.”

The map released Monday would create more-competitive seats as the New York delegation shrinks to 26, with Democrats potentially holding 15 seats in November’s midterm elections.

That final ruling took the mapmaking role away from the state legislature and gave it instead to Cervas, a court-appointed “special master” who could serve as a neutral expert. A New York judge later ordered the primary elections for the state’s congressional delegation be pushed back to Aug. 23 to give candidates and voters more time. The gubernatorial election and other statewide elections would remain in June.

In a statement Monday, the National Republican Redistricting Trust called the map “a step in the right direction” but charged that it still unduly favored Democrats.

“According to [opinion poll analysis site FiveThirtyEight] this proposed remedial plan favors Democrats more than every map proposed to the court with 2 exceptions: Democrats’ unconstitutional gerrymander and Legislative Democrats’ proposed remedial map,” wrote Adam Kincaid, president of the Republican redistricting group. “Even the map proposed by Common Cause had a smaller pro-Democrat partisan bias.”