After strangely delaying releasing what the actual State Legislative maps will look like under their latest proposal, Albany’s redistricting task force post finally released the maps this evening.
Like the State Senate plan that the Senate Democrats released earlier today, the State Assembly plan appears to change very little from the draft maps. The official release on the State Government website, however, provides additional detail.
In typical fashion, the State Legislature released their new redistricting maps for the State Senate and State Assembly in the dark of the night on Sunday in an unreadable 20,000 word textual format instead of actually providing visual map.
The Senate Democrats, however, apparently compiled the data and provided the new State Senate maps to reporters.
“Since the Senate Republicans are content on keeping the public in the dark and concealing the maps that they produced, we will do it for them,” Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy wrote. “Attached you will find the maps which show very clearly that there is virtually no change from their previous proposal.”
Last night, the State Legislature released a new batch of gerrymandered legislative lines and a constitutional amendment to reform the process in the future, and, further revealing his intentions this morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo trashed the alternative to him signing the Legislature’s proposal, the courts intervening and drawing their own map.
(Mr. Cuomo had previously vowed to send the maps to the courts unless an independent commission drew them.)
“I’ll tell you this, for those people who are arguing, ‘Well, the best thing we can do is let the courts draw the lines.’ We saw what happened when the court draws the lines, we have the congressional lines,” he said on Fred Dicker’s radio show today, referring to the court releasing its first draft of the congressional map.
Albany released the text of the new State Legislative lines last night, but not the maps, resulting in limited clarity for what the new maps will look like. At first glance at the 20,000 word document, it seems a partisan gerrymander remains in place.
However, Albany also released a legible redistricting document last night, the constitutional amendment to permanently reform the process in the future in 2022. The proposed amendment appears designed to lock in this year’s set of maps rather than create any sort of truly independent commission. “The commission shall consider the maintenance of cores of existing districts, of pre-existing political subdivisions, including counties, cities, and towns, and communities of interest,” the bill reads.
Earlier this afternoon, Brooklyn elected officials and activists gathered to protest the court’s draft redistricting map for Congressional lines, and Councilman Charles Barron, as usual, was the most outspoken member of the crowd.
Mr. Barron, who’s running for Congress himself, made it clear his first issue was the term “Special Master” used to describe the court’s redistricting expert assisting int he drafting.
“I think the first thing we got to do is stop calling the judge ‘Master,’” he declared. “Trying to draw us back on the plantation. So I’m going to say ‘judge,’ because we have no master.”
Over at Daily Kos Elections, they’ve been analyzing what the new court-proposed congressional map would mean for the partisan makeup of each district and the incumbent it houses. Based on the percentages Barack Obama and John McCain scored in the 2008 presidential race, a number of swing districts have gotten either more or less competitive.
Notably in New York City, GOP Congressman Michael Grimm’s district is a touch more conservative, while the new district created in Queens, which both Assemblyman Rory Lancman and Congressman Gary Ackerman have their sights set for, looks solidly Democratic. More of Republican Rep. Bob Turner’s old territory is in this new district than anywhere else, but it would be a significantly uphill battle if he sought reelection there.
View the full breakdown below:
While the Assembly Democrats declined to weigh in on the Special Master’s court-drawn map released yesterday, the Senate Republicans had a number of specific issues raised with individual districts. However, despite the judge indicating no desire to protect incumbents whatsoever, the Senate GOP’s legal arguments continued to press the point, along with arguing the need to better conform to tradition and protect select communities of interest.
Unsurprisingly, the Senate Republicans arguments seem to favor Republican incumbents’ reelection chances. For example, with GOP Congressman Michael Grimm’s new 11th district, they pushed for public housing to be removed from the seat and for ideologically conservative Orthodox voters in Midwood to be added instead.
Earlier today, the courts dropped a small bombshell on New York’s Congressional delegation, releasing a “draft” map for the new set of districts. But what does that mean, and what happens next?
U.S. Magistrate Roanne Mann has given a deadline at 9 a.m. tomorrow for any parties to submit comments. She then has until Monday to submit her plan to a three-judge panel. That panel will then hold a hearing for the parties on March 15th and subsequently order a plan into effect.
David Nir, an attorney who now heads the left-leaning Daily Kos Elections blog that closely monitors redistricting developments across the country, said he expected the three-judge panel would adopt the proposed map wholesale.
“In all likelihood, I’d expect the three-judge panel to adopt the magistrate’s final map with few if any changes,” he told The Politicker. “Given the amount of work the magistrate has put into drafting these maps, and her close familiarity with the new lines, I’d be surprised if the three-judge panel chose to second-guess her.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo has so heavily hedged on whether or not he will veto the Legislature’s redistricting proposal that even ardent experts in Kremlinology — the Soviet-era practice of grasping onto tidbits of information broadcasted from behind the Iron Curtain — would be soundly challenged.
Complicating the whole matter is the issue’s obscurity. Redistricting simply isn’t relevant to most New Yorkers. The average person on the street probably doesn’t know who most of his or her local representatives are, let alone where the boundaries lie. Yet editorial boards and good government groups believe the practice of letting legislators pick their voters, instead of the other way around, is at the core of many of the structural problems in Albany.
For that reason, Mr. Cuomo has vowed time and time again to veto the legislature’s maps and send the entire cartographic process to the courts, which the first five or so quotes from the slideshow will demonstrate. However, his rhetoric began hinting a move in another direction at the end of last year.