New York’s redistricting saga has muddled much of the script for this summer’s political theatre as New York voters face primaries for statewide offices and the state Assembly in June, followed by primaries for Congress and the state Senate in August, as well as mixed special elections for two House seats that cover a large swath upstate.
That’s a lot for New York’s voters to keep up with, especially with the reshuffling of districts and candidates caused by the state’s arduous and contentious redistricting process that involved a protracted legal fight and an uninvolved independent redistricting commission. But on Saturday, new maps gave clarity, to some, on their congressional districts for their next 10 years, while scrambling the long-awaited political plans for others.
A New York judge approved a new congressional map by Carnegie Mellon University Fellow Jonathan Cervas as special master that drew lines for the state’s 26 House seats, with 15 leaning Democratic, three leaning Republican and eight falling in the 45-55% competitive range.
For the Bronx, the new congressional map generally splits the Bronx into west, central and east, with the eastern part combined with some parts of Queens on the other side of the water.
The infamous “Long Island Sound” district, which included pockets of the coastal Bronx in a small strip of land on the Sound from Westchester out to Suffolk County and attracted Bronx pols like Alessandra Biaggi to the seat, is no more.
The new Senate maps also generally fall into west, central and east areas in the Bronx, redistricting expert Karen Young mapped out to the Bronx Times. Young said the new maps clear out a gerrymander that occurred in District 34, a seat held by the aforementioned Biaggi.
“While they have a few odd-looking parts, the narrow bridges that used to connect wildly disparate parts of the Bronx are no more,” Young said. “Bronx state Senate districts, most notably District 34, were among the most gerrymandered in the city. So this is good news for Bronx voters.”
Last Wednesday, a state Supreme Court judge upheld the state Assembly district maps drawn by the Legislature earlier this year, keeping primaries for those seats set for June 28. The highly-anticipated race for governor, as well as the post of lieutenant governor also are slated to remain on that day. Winners of the June primary will set the stage for a general election showdown on Nov. 8.
The new redistricting splits 15 counties within the new maps compared to 34 county splits under the Legislature’s plan struck down by the state’s highest court for unconstitutional gerrymandering April 27.
The Democratic-drawn map would likely have given the party control of 22 of the state’s 26 congressional seats this fall, serving to counterbalance similarly partisan maps passed in Republican-dominated states such as Florida, Georgia and Texas.
Republicans need to flip only five seats in November to win a majority in the House.
Early voting for the state primary elections in New York begins June 18 and ends June 26, two days before Election Day.
Reach Robbie Sequeira at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes