(Updates with comments of Republican chairman in the fourth and fifth paragraphs.)
One of the New York Republicans targeted in a Democratic-drawn gerrymander said Monday that she’ll take her chances in a neighboring congressional district.
“Democrats in Albany are targeting me because they know I’ll continue to stand up to Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and Kathy Hochul’s radical agenda,” Rep. Claudia Tenney said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I look forward to meeting and earning the support of even more New Yorkers and getting to work for our region in Congress.”
She’ll shift to a proposed new 23rd District in the Republican-heavy Southern Tier, composed primarily of territory currently represented by Rep. Tom Reed (R), who’s not seeking re-election.
She represents just 70,396 of the 776,971 people in the new district, or 9% of the total. Trump would have won the new 23rd by 21 percentage points.
Members of Congress aren’t required to live in their districts.
Another GOP lawmaker put at a disadvantage under the Democrats’ plan, Nicole Malliotakis, also plans to seek re-election, spokesman Rob Ryan said.
“This is a blatant attempt by the Democrat leadership in Albany to steal this seat, even after New Yorkers voted twice by ballot referendum for non-partisan maps,” Ryan said. “They know Congresswoman Malliotakis is popular and they can’t beat her on the merits or public policy, so they are changing the boundaries to tilt the scale.”
The redistricting plan (S.8172A/A.9039A), released Sunday, could be on the desk of Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) as soon as Wednesday.
The configuration of seats was designed to maximize the prospects for Democrats ahead of the November election, when that party is at risk of losing its five-seat majority in the U.S. House. Democrats would have an edge in as many of 22 of the 26 new districts.
The state Republican Party is reviewing legal options, Chairman Nick Langworthy said on Sunday.
“Voters spoke loud and clear in rejecting their partisan power grab last year and in 2014, but Democrats are circumventing the will of the people,” he said in a Sunday statement. “They can’t win on the merits so they’re trying to win the election in a smoke-filled room rather than the ballot box.”
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Under the New York proposal, the Staten Island-based district of Malliotakis would absorb Democratic precincts in Brooklyn, primarily from the heavily Democratic district of Rep. Nydia Velázquez. The changes would convert Malliotakis’ district from one Donald Trump won by 11 percentage points in the 2020 election to one Joe Biden would have carried by 10 points.
Malliotakis, the only House Republican who represents part of New York City, unseated one-term Democrat Max Rose in 2020. Rose has announced a rematch.
Much of Tenney’s home turf was merged into an area represented by two-term Hudson Valley Democrat Antonio Delgado. And about 199,000 of Tenney’s constituents would be shifted to the heavily Republican North Country district of Elise Stefanik, the chair of the House Republican Conference.
New York is losing one seat in Congress as a result of the 2020 Census. Democrats hold 19 of the current 27 districts.
Legislators faced pressure to draw a gerrymandered map because Republicans are redrawing more congressional district lines nationwide than Democrats, influencing who’ll be in power for the next decade.
A Syracuse-based district would become more strongly Democratic with the addition of Tompkins County in and around Ithaca and Cornell University. Rep. John Katko, a popular Republican with crossover appeal to Democrats, isn’t seeking re-election and Democrats are favored to win the reconfigured district, which would be renumbered the 22nd from the 24th.
The map would reconfigure three of the four Long Island-based districts to lean Democratic, including the 1st District of Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin and the 3rd District of Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi. Both are running for governor. The reconfigured 3rd District would include part of Westchester County north of New York City.
The Hudson Valley-based 18th District of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Sean Patrick Maloney would become marginally more Democratic-leaning, though it could be politically competitive in a good Republican year. The reconfigured 18th is one of four the president would have carried by fewer than 12 points, along with the Zeldin, Malliotakis, and Delgado-Tenney districts.
“The Legislature’s proposed congressional maps preserve the Voting Rights Act districts, but the rest of the lines are so heavily gerrymandered they will be non-competitive,” Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York said in a statement Monday.
“It’s a major disservice to the voters,” Lerner said, calling on the legislature to at least hold public hearings on the proposal.
The state legislature took over the map-drawing process after New York’s advisory redistricting commission, bogged down in partisanship, failed to come to an agreement on a consensus map.
The proposal must now make its way through committees in both houses. A two-thirds majority in each chamber is needed to send the maps to Hochul.
With assistance from Greg Giroux
To contact the reporter on this story: Keshia Clukey in Albany, N.Y. at firstname.lastname@example.org