New York Democrats unveiled a proposed redistricting map on Wednesday that would make it harder for three House Republicans to win reelection — but avoids taking on powerful GOP conference chairwoman Elise Stefanik.
The plan by Democratic members of the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission appears to target Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn), Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-Binghamton) and Rep. John Katko (R-Auburn) by increasing the number of registered Democrats among each of their constituencies.
If successful, the proposal would cut the number of GOP House members from the Empire State in half — from eight to four — because it also eliminates the district now represented by Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning).
New York is set to lose one of its 27 House seats following next year’s elections due to the results of the 2020 census, which also shrank the congressional delegations from six other states.
New York State Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy immediately vowed to challenge the redistricting plan, saying that Democrats “are going to stonewall and drag this process out hoping New Yorkers aren’t paying attention so partisan legislators can draw their own maps.”
“Like everything else under Democrat control in New York, this process is a political sham built on a foundation of lies and hypocrisy,” he said in a prepared statement.
“We intend to employ every legal and political tool in our arsenal to stop them and ensure New Yorkers are fairly represented.”
John Faso, a former GOP House member from upstate Kinderhook, said he suspected Democrats opted against targeting Stefanik (R-Glens Falls), the third-ranking Republican leader in the House, because “she’s a very strong candidate.”
“She’s got a very high profile, she’s got high favorability among North Country constituents and she’s a terrific fundraiser. She’ll win the election,” he said.
But veteran Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf suggested the move may transcend party politics.
“Should the Republicans win the House, which appears likely next year, she will become very, very important,” he said.
“She’s No. 3 in the Republican leadership, she will be close to the speaker, and New York may need financial and other help.”
Sheinkopf also noted that it’s “tough to challenge” Stefanik.
“Where do you get the Democrats from in that part of the state? Democrats are hard to find there,” he said.
Republican members of the IRC released their own proposed redistricting map on Wednesday after the commission failed to agree on a bipartisan plan.
But the issue will ultimately be decided by the Democrat-controlled state legislature and sent to Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul for approval.
In a prepared statement, Malliotakis called the release of the competing maps “the first step in a longer process and regardless of what the final configuration of the district is I’m extremely confident I will be reelected next year.”
“In nine months, my office has been able to return more than $13 million to the district from various federal agencies, resolved more than 2,400 constituent cases, assisted 29 individuals in becoming U.S. citizens and even helped a family safely evacuate from Afghanistan,” she added.
“I look forward to serving my new district with the same passion, energy and commitment.”
But Tenney said, “In 2014, New Yorkers across the state voted overwhelmingly to end partisan gerrymandering and supported an independent, nonpartisan commission to draw fair district lines.”
“It’s clear Democrats in Albany and Washington are trying to undermine this process at every turn,” she said in a prepared statement.
“New York Democrats need to follow the law, respect our state’s Constitution, and honor the will of New Yorkers.”
State Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs called it “really rich” that Langworthy was “concerned with Democratic redistricting when the Republicans were chopping up districts in their favor” following the 2010 census.
“Democrats in the state of New York have an overwhelming advantage over Republicans and there’s nothing much you can do about it except that you have to have districts that represent the population,” he said.
“If you just do them fairly, Republicans are going to have to lose seats just by the nature of the enrollment and where those district lines currently are now. They were drawn unfairly 10 years ago.”