“Had we sought out people that voted the same way in order to keep them together, that would have been the definition of illegal gerrymandering,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, a Democrat and leader of a task force that drew the lines.
“Maybe at the end of the day, this will have the effect of bringing people together,” he said.
That will be exceedingly difficult in the 11th, should the lines hold.
But whatever the evident governing difficulties, a fierce battle is unfolding to represent the district as Ms. Malliotakis, who has tied herself closely to Mr. Trump and voted against certifying the results of the 2020 election, runs for re-election. She also broke with her party to vote for the infrastructure bill.
While candidates in many races face difficult balancing acts between appealing to the most die-hard partisans in a primary and achieving broader appeal in a general election, those tensions will be thrown into sharp relief in the 11th District.
“It certainly gives the Democratic nominee a very good chance,” said John Mollenkopf, director of the Center for Urban Research at the Graduate Center of CUNY, of the new district lines. “But that’s going to take a Democratic nominee who can appeal to the more conservative Democrats on Staten Island.”
How U.S. Redistricting Works
What is redistricting? It’s the redrawing of the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts. It happens every 10 years, after the census, to reflect changes in population.
How does it work? The census dictates how many seats in Congress each state will get. Mapmakers then work to ensure that a state’s districts all have roughly the same number of residents, to ensure equal representation in the House.
Who draws the new maps? Each state has its own process. Eleven states leave the mapmaking to an outside panel. But most — 39 states — have state lawmakers draw the new maps for Congress.
If state legislators can draw their own districts, won’t they be biased? Yes. Partisan mapmakers often move district lines — subtly or egregiously — to cluster voters in a way that advances a political goal. This is called gerrymandering.
Is gerrymandering legal? Yes and no. In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal courts have no role to play in blocking partisan gerrymanders. However, the court left intact parts of the Voting Rights Act that prohibit racial or ethnic gerrymandering.
On the Democratic side, the biggest open question had been whether Mr. de Blasio would run, an idea that sparked viscerally negative reactions on Staten Island. At Grant City Tavern, where the ceiling is designed to look like an American flag and a portrait of Mr. Trump hangs on the wall, one patron knocked over his drink at the mention of the former mayor.
He commissioned polling around the race, but took himself out of contention on Tuesday.
The most high-profile Democrat in the race is former Representative Max Rose, who won the earlier configuration of the district in 2018 and lost to Ms. Malliotakis in 2020. Mr. Rose, who grew up in Park Slope, had cast himself as more of a Staten Island Democrat with a brash personal style and relatively centrist politics, and some party officials see him as a strong general election fit in the new district.