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New map could mean three new N.Y. state Democrats in House

Malliotakis vulnerable; Katko and Zeldin seats could flip

After flipping a Democratic seat in 2020, New York Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis faces a toss-up reelection race because of redistricting, analyst Nathan L. Gonzales says.
After flipping a Democratic seat in 2020, New York Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis faces a toss-up reelection race because of redistricting, analyst Nathan L. Gonzales says. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected, March 22 | ANALYSIS — Even though Republicans got to draw more congressional districts nationwide, Democrats were in charge of the map in the fourth-largest state, and they didn’t let the opportunity go to waste.

Democrats’ wide majorities in the New York State Legislature allowed them to effectively ignore a new redistricting commission and draw an aggressive map that could maximize the party’s gains and improve its chances of holding on to the House majority. 

[April 27 update: State’s top court tosses NY map that favored Democrats]

Considering Republicans need a net gain of just five seats to regain control of the House, Democrats have no margin for error. If the Democratic-drawn map performs as intended, Democrats could extend their 19-to-8 advantage in the delegation to a sizable 22-4 edge. New York lost a seat during reapportionment, so the state dropped to 26 seats.

That’s the smallest number of House seats New York has had since the early 1800s. At its peak, the Empire State sent 45 House members to Capitol Hill. But New York has lost at least one House seat in every round of reapportionment since 1950. And four Republicans in the delegation would represent the GOP’s worst position in the state since after the 2008 election, when Democrats had a 26-to-3 advantage.

[More House race ratings | Initial Senate race ratings]

Of course races don’t always perform as intended, particularly in a midterm election cycle that could be trending significantly toward Republicans with an unpopular Democrat in the White House. 

Sixteen races are initially rated as Solid Democratic, while four races are initially rated as Solid Republican. A half-dozen competitive races will decide whether Democrats effectively gerrymandered the state, and Democrats need to win all of them to achieve their goal.  

1st District (Open; Lee Zeldin, R)

With Zeldin running for governor and Democrats redrawing the eastern Long Island seat to be more Democratic, the open seat is a good takeover opportunity. While President Donald Trump won the old 1st with 52 percent of the vote in 2020, Joe Biden would have won the new seat with 55 percent. Suffolk County legislators Kara Hahn and Bridget Fleming and Babylon Town Councilor Jackie Gordon — the 2020 2nd District nominee — are facing off in the June 28 Democratic primary. Former Suffolk County Commissioner of Elections Nick LaLota and former Brookhaven deputy supervisor Anthony Figliola are running on the GOP side. Initial rating: Lean Democratic

4th District (Open; Kathleen Rice, D)

Republicans weren’t targeting the seat when the new map was unveiled, but Rice’s decision not to seek reelection sparked interest on the GOP side. Tech entrepreneur Bill Staniford is running, but other candidates could still get in. And since Rice had been expected to seek reelection, the Democratic field is evolving as well ahead of the April 7 filing deadline. Even though it’s a Biden district, recent electoral strength for the GOP locally and nationally could make this seat very competitive. Rating: Likely Democratic

11th District (Nicole Malliotakis, R)

Making a way for former Democratic Rep. Max Rose to return to Congress was one of the worst-kept secrets in the redistricting process. Democrats turned a district Trump won with 55 percent to one Biden would have won with 54 percent. In a great year for the GOP, that’s close enough to still give Malliotakis a chance to win reelection. But it will be difficult. Rose is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination but faces a primary against Army veteran Brittany Ramos DeBarros, a Democratic Socialists of America member. Rose probably gives Democrats the best chance to win. Initial rating: Toss-up

18th District (Sean Patrick Maloney, D)

Defeating the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee would be the ultimate prize in a fantastic cycle for Republicans. Considering Biden would have won the newly drawn seat with 53 percent, it’s certainly possible. GOP state Assemblyman Colin Schmitt has some significant ground to make up in fundraising, but he should be a credible candidate to take advantage of a sizable wave, if one develops. Initial rating: Likely Democratic

19th District (Antonio Delgado, D)

With a combination of a strong candidate and favorable cycle, Republicans believe they can knock off the congressman, even though Democrats intended this seat to reelect Delgado. While Delgado won reelection in 2020 in a district in which Biden received just short of 50 percent of the vote, he will run this year in a seat Biden would have won with 54 percent. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro will likely carry the GOP mantle. He would have won the district in his unsuccessful race for governor in 2018. This will be a bigger challenge, but a Molinaro victory would signal a much bigger wave nationally for Republicans. Initial rating: Likely Democratic.

22nd District (Open; John Katko, R)

Katko amassed a consistent record of winning reelection in a tough district, including 2020, when he won while Biden carried his district with 53 percent. This cycle, Katko is not running, and Democrats redrew the seat in a way that would have seen Biden win it with 58 percent. That makes it a great opportunity. Navy Reserve commander Francis Conole (who lost in the 2020 Democratic primary) looks like the initial Democratic front-runner, but former Boies Schiller partner Joshua Riley, former state Sen. Sam Roberts and Syracuse Common Councilor Chol Majok are running as well. The race could be rated Solid Democratic, but it’s easier to track takeovers if it remains on the list of competitive races as Likely Democratic. 

Seats rated Solid Republican

Seats rated Solid Democratic

Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst with CQ Roll Call.

This report has been corrected to reflect that Robert Cornicelli is no longer running in the 1st District.

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