Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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NY Democrats reject bipartisan congressional map, prompting legislative redrawing

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Democrats in the New York Legislature on Monday rejected a congressional map drawn by the state’s bipartisan redistricting commission, setting the stage for the party to craft lines that help Democrats in battleground House races that could determine control of Congress.

The Democrat-dominated state Legislature will now have to submit and approve a new set of congressional lines, which is expected in the coming days. Republicans are already threatening a legal challenge.

Congressional races in New York, particularly suburban contests, are expected determine which party controls the House after the November elections, adding major significance to even the slightest tweaks in how districts are drawn.

NEW YORK REDISTRICTING COMMISSION APPROVES NEW CONGRESSIONAL MAP

The move came about two weeks after the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission approved a map that would have helped Democrats in two districts and a Republican in one, but left most of the current lines in place.

Democrats had panned the commission’s map, arguing it split up so-called communities of interest, among other issues. Many expected Democrats to kill the proposal so they could draft maps that were more advantageous for the party’s congressional candidates.

It is unclear exactly how Democrats will move to reshape districts, as lawmakers try to balance the national party’s ambitions to win races on Long Island and north of New York City with the state’s prohibition against partisan gerrymandering.

Voters established the redistricting commission through a constitutional amendment. It was supposed to draw the state’s congressional map before the 2022 elections, but failed to reach a consensus.

Democrats then stepped in and drew a map that packed Republican voters into a few super districts, weakening GOP voting power. Republicans sued to block the map, arguing it would give Democrats an unfair advantage, and the lawsuit delayed congressional primaries.

The case reached the state’s highest court, which sided with Republicans and appointed an outside expert to draft a new map for 2022. Under those lines, Republicans were able to flip congressional seats in the New York City suburbs and win a narrow House majority.

After the losses, Democrat sued to throw out the 2022 maps and convinced the courts to allow the redistricting commission to redraw the lines.

NY ELECTION LAW THAT ‘NATIONALIZES’ LOCAL POLITICS FLIES UNDER THE RADAR DESPITE BEING ‘MONUMENTAL’: EXPERT

Earlier this month, the commission compromised on a map that left most of the court’s 2022 lines in place, except for modest changes to three competitive districts.

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who is leading Democrats’ effort to recapture House seats in New York, has criticized the commission’s proposal.

Jeffries’ spokesman Andy Eichar said the commission’s map ignored concerns about dividing communities and that one change helping an incumbent Republican “would be a clear violation of the New York State Constitution.” The statement did not mention that the map would also help an incumbent Democrat.

State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said Democrats were “poised to create their own gerrymandered maps in another shameful power grab.”

“It is once again painfully obvious that Albany Democrats don’t care about the millions of New Yorkers who demanded a fair and transparent redistricting process – they only care about their own political self-interests,” he said.

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