New York Democrats combined several Republican-held seats in the state in a draft congressional map released over the weekend, even as Democrats in other states argue Republicans used mapmaking to gain an unfair advantage.
The new map could effectively merge two GOP-dominated seats on Long Island into one, make Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island vulnerable in a rematch she faces against former Democratic Rep. Max Rose, and create three Republican-leaning districts from the four the party currently holds upstate.
If the draft map released on Sunday were in place in 2020, President Joe Biden would have won 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts, up from 20 of 27 under the old lines. The draft map would represent some of Democrats’ biggest gains in redistricting so far, including possible gains in Oregon, California and Illinois. With Republicans needing a net gain of only five seats to take the House majority this year, experts have said redistricting alone could determine control of the chamber.
State House Speaker Carl Heastie and state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, both Democrats, said in a statement last week they intend to vote in the next few days to send the map to Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.
“Given the expedited nature of the political calendar, we fully expect the Senate and Assembly to consider new fair maps in a timely manner,” the statement said.
The state has a June 28 primary, and candidates have to file to run by April 7. Earlier this month, New York’s advisory commission failed to draw a new congressional map, defaulting that power to the Legislature. Because of relative population loss, the state lost a congressional seat by 87 people in apportionment after the 2020 census, the narrowest margin in modern history.
On Long Island, the new map would combine many of the Republican-leaning areas in Reps. Lee Zeldin’s and Andrew Garbarino’s seats into one district that voted for former President Donald Trump by a margin of 14 percentage points.
The Staten Island seat currently held by Malliotakis would gain areas of Brooklyn that would swing the seat as a whole from one that voted for Trump by a 10-point margin to one that voted for Biden by 9 points.
In upstate New York, the map shuffles many Republican-leaning areas to create three GOP-leaning seats from the four the party currently holds. Four Democratic-leaning districts would center on Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. Additionally, a Democratic-leaning district would stretch from the Albany suburbs to the Syracuse suburbs.
Republican Reps. Tom Reed and John Katko, whose districts are in upstate or western New York, have already announced they will not seek reelection. Zeldin is seeking the nomination for governor. Malliotakis faces a possible rematch against Rose, whom she beat by 6 points in 2020.
Hochul is expected to sign the map. She signed legislation last year allowing the Legislature to draw the lines once the commission missed its Jan. 15 deadline.
In Ohio and North Carolina, Democrats have argued in court that new maps violated state laws against political gerrymandering. Earlier this month, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected the state’s new congressional map, ordering the state’s redistricting commission to draw new lines.
A panel of North Carolina state judges rejected political gerrymandering claims in a decision earlier this month that is being appealed to the state’s Supreme Court, which has a Democratic majority.
Similar claims have been brought against Democrats over redistricting in Maryland, where the case is still pending.