© 2023 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Proposed New York congressional redistricting favors Democrats, especially on Long Island

New York state Senator Michael Gianaris, D-Queens
Courtesy Office of Senator Michael Gianaris
New York state Senator Michael Gianaris, D-Queens

Newly proposed congressional redistricting maps would give New York Democrats a 22-4 district advantage over their Republican counterparts, a big change from the current 19-8 ratio they have held since 2020.

The maps were released by the state Legislature on Sunday, Jan. 30. The process requires “new districts be compact and contiguous, have nearly equal population numbers, and not be drawn to discourage competition or favor incumbents,” according to a constitutional amendment.

New York will lose one seat in the House due to slow population increase, according to the U.S. Census. Earlier this month, a bipartisan independent commission was unable to agree on a set of maps for the redrawing of the state’s congressional districts for the next decade. That leaves the state Legislature, which Democrats currently hold with supermajorities in both chambers, tasked with redistricting.

“We did the best we could with a flawed process,” State Senator Michael Gianaris, the chair of the legislative redistricting task force, told The New York Times. “This is a very Democratic state, let’s start there. It’s not surprising that a fairly drawn map might lead to more Democrats getting elected.”

Democrats said the new redistricting maps were not politically motivated, and Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul indicated last month that she would sign any maps that the Legislature approved.

New York Republican leadership disagreed.

“For all of their phony protestations about transparency and fairness in elections, what they’re doing is textbook filthy, partisan gerrymandering that is clearly in violation of the New York State Constitution,” State Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy said in a statement on Twitter.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1), who will be running for governor and therefore not seeking re-election, said Democrats will regret these maps during the gubernatorial election in November. He anticipates New Yorkers will ditch Democrats and vote in Republicans statewide, just as they did in 2021 in a wave of local elections on Long Island, including Suffolk County district attorney, Nassau County executive and district attorney races.

“There should be regret for not recognizing and respecting the will of the people,” Zeldin said at a rally in Albany on Monday. “Voters of this state created an independent commission for redistricting. … This is where they're going to be filled with a lot of regret.”

“You might ask, ‘Will the pendulum swing?’ No. It's already swung. You could ask ‘Will the political earth under us move.’ No, it's already moved,” Zeldin continued.

According to the new maps, redistricting will lead to Zeldin’s district losing some of its Republican neighborhoods and picking up new Democratic constituents.

Also on Long Island, New York’s Third Congressional District will now include the north shore of Nassau County and western Suffolk County, parts of Queens and the Bronx, as well as Mamaroneck, New Rochelle and Pelham. The seat is held by Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY), who is also running for governor and will not be seeking re-election.

The Legislature plans to vote on the new maps as early as Wednesday.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.