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New York redistricting commission approves new congressional map

  • New York state’s bipartisan redistricting commission on Thursday approved a new congressional map that changes three competitive districts while leaving the rest of the state’s boundaries unchanged.
  • The plan is likely to complicate the re-election prospects of freshman Republican state Rep. Brandon Williams, whose district centered around Syracuse is significantly blue.
  • Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan and Republican Rep. Mark Molinaro stand to benefit most under the new line, as their respective districts are drawn into bluer and redder territory.

New York State’s bipartisan redistricting commission on Thursday approved a new congressional map that makes some changes to three competitive districts but leaves the rest of the state’s boundaries unchanged.

The map proposal now goes to the Democratic-controlled Legislature, which can approve or reject the plan and draw its own lines. It’s unclear exactly when lawmakers will meet to vote on the committee’s map.

New York’s legislative redistricting process has been in the spotlight this year, as the state’s suburban elections could have a big impact on which party controls the House after November’s election.

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The redistricting commission was tasked with drawing new districts after the state Supreme Court in December threw out the maps used for the 2022 election. Democrats had sued to overturn the old maps after losing a handful of seats in the suburbs in a series of blowout defeats that helped Republicans gain a narrow House majority.

The panel’s new map plan leaves most of the current parliamentary districts largely intact, a move that could help avoid legal challenges to the proposal. It also could serve to allay, at least to some extent, Republican concerns that the new plan would leave them with a thoroughly gerrymandered playing field heading into the fall.

The New York State Capitol building before Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers the State of the Union address at the State Capitol on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 in Albany, New York. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

The biggest change appears to be in upstate districts currently held by Republican Rep. Brandon Williams. The commission plans to change the district over Syracuse to include the cities of Auburn and Cortland.

Other major adjustments will be made in nearby districts held by Republican Rep. Mark Molinaro and Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan. The plan would expand Mr. Ryan’s district north to include Woodstock, while Mr. Molinaro’s district would expand to include parts of the state east of Albany.

The state’s independent redistricting commission was scheduled to draw districts for use in 2022, but could not reach an agreement, leaving the process to the state Legislature.

Democrats, who control the Legislature, then drew their own maps designed to give Democrats an advantage by packing Republicans into a small number of superdistricts and weakening Republican voting power across the state. It was something I did. A lawsuit ultimately blocked the Democratic Party’s use of the map, and legal challenges delayed the congressional primaries.

The state Supreme Court then appointed outside experts to draw the 2022 map. Republicans performed well under these Congressional policies, flipping seats in the New York City suburbs and narrowly gaining a House majority.

After their defeat, Democrats filed a lawsuit seeking to have the 2022 map thrown out. The case eventually reached the state Superior Court, which ruled in December that the commission should have another chance to draw district boundaries and ordered new maps.

This time, the state’s redistricting commission was able to reach agreement on a draft map, drastically changing district boundaries in an apparent effort to avoid new legal challenges that could disrupt electioneering. approved the plan without any changes. The panel approved the map by a 9-1 vote during a brief public hearing in Albany.

The proposal would do little to change Long Island’s congressional boundaries, which are expected to be hotly contested, and were previously held by George Santos, who was ousted from Congress and won by Democrat Tom Suozzi in a special election this week. This includes the constituencies where the election was held. New York City’s routes also appeared to be largely unchanged.

“It was important that we not enter into a process that would confuse people about where they should vote,” said Charles Nesbitt, vice chairman of the Redistricting Commission.

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The Independent Redistricting Commission was created under a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2014. The committee is made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.

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