State Senator Mike Gianaris, who heads the Senate Democrats electoral efforts, was sharply critical of a plan Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos floated yesterday, saying there’s a “good chance” the total number of New York State Senators will increase from 62 to 63 for the decennial process of redrawing district lines.
Senator Gianaris said that the “desperate” Republican conference was “brazenly violating the constitution.”
“The number of senators is not a matter of discretion,” he argued. “It’s set with a mathematical formula in the constitution, no matter how you interpret that formula, the number this year comes out 62.”
Indeed, the Senate Democrats recently sent around a press release arguing the complex unconstitutionality of the plan in even more specific terms: “Whenever the population of such a county rises to a larger proportion of the statewide total than in 1894 – counting by increments of 1/50th (2%) of the state total, after dropping the remainders – then a district is added to the total of 50 districts that were created in 1894.”
Although the numbers supported adding another New York State Senate seat in the last round of redistricting ten years ago, from 61to 62, Senate Democrats argue directly that the numbers simply cannot support such a move this time around.
If the Republican conference is able to successfully create an additional state senate district, it is difficult to ascertain the exact electoral benefit they’d receive. Presumably a new district would be created in a Republican-dominated area, but such a move wouldn’t create voters out of thin air and could pull from existing Republican districts. Echoing Gianaris’ charge that the Republicans are “desperate,” one Democratic insider argued that the move is attempt to “muddy up the water” and reconstruct a marginal majority coalition from district boundaries that have been fully shaken up.
Senator Gianaris further argued that the Republican plan here is not only impossible legally, but that the legal solutions against the map will be wholly unnecessary because Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly vowed to veto any redistricting legislation produced through the current partisan process. Governor Cuomo has occasionally left himself some wiggle room on the veto threat in the past.