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New York: Court Releases Draft Congressional Map

A federal magistrate judge released a draft Congressional map late Monday that drew some Members together and riled Empire State politics, putting immense pressure on the long-deadlocked state Legislature to find a redistricting solution of its own.

On first take, analysts of both parties saw freshman Reps. Chris Gibson (R), Kathy Hochul (D) and Bob Turner (R) in the biggest trouble under the new map. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D), who was drawn into the same district as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D), appears to have a district to run in, though it won’t be the one he lives in. He is not expected to run against Israel.

Hochul’s home appears to have been drawn into four-term Rep. Brian Higgins’ (D) district, setting up the potential of a Member-vs.-Member primary. The district that is most similar to the one she currently represents remains difficult turf for any Democrat.

“She hasn’t looked at the map yet,” a Hochul spokesman told Roll Call.

Gibson, who won his vast, upstate and slightly Republican-leaning district by 10 points in 2010, would, under the new lines, likely run in a district with lots of new territory that appears to lean Democratic.

“Certainly, we don’t want to lose any part of our current district but recognize there may have to be some measure of change,” Gibson spokeswoman Stephanie Valle said. “However, the redistricting process is one that is beyond our control. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the Congressman will continue to work to serve the interests of upstate New Yorkers.”

Turner, who won his seat in an upset special election victory in September, saw his current district reconfigured in a way unlikely to lead to another term. His home was drawn into the same district as Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks.

The map eliminated the district of retiring Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D). The draft redraw shored up the districts of freshman Rep. Richard Hanna (R) and gave Higgins (D) an exceedingly Democratic district. Vulnerable Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle (R) and Bill Owens (D) remain in difficult political territory under the court-drawn draft lines.

The judge gave the state Assembly and state Senate until Wednesday morning to register any objections to the plan. A final map could be approved by a federal three-judge panel in the coming weeks. But the Legislature might act before then in an attempt to avoid losing control of the redistricting process.

“The court will provide a great deal of latitude to encourage the Legislature to be the final arbiter of these lines,” said a longtime Congressional aide to a New York Democratic Member.

“Anybody who says this is the end of the game,” the aide added, “that would be premature.”

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