As the Legislature and the courts compete to finish the final touches on their separate congressional redistricting plans, Democratic Assemblyman Rory Lancman is hustling to keep all of his bases open as he campaigns for Congress himself in what is very much an uncertain district.
When Albany seemed poised to leave GOP Congressman Turner’s district be, Mr. Lancman was campaigning next to Mr. Turner in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, while aggressively peppering Mr. Turner’s with press releases criticizing his votes and positions.
Now, with the courts and Albany both appearing likely to divide Mr. Turner’s seat up between its neighbors, creating a new Asian or Latino-plurality Queens district — with a strong ethnic white and Jewish presence still — Mr. Lancman is doing event after event to lock down these diverse constituencies instead, possibly preparing for a competitive Democratic primary against sitting Congressman Gary Ackerman.
Congressman Gary Ackerman saw his district split in two under the new reapportionment maps released, but in a statement released today put on his best game face.
“The new Sixth CD is a fantastic district in Queens where I grew up, went to public school and college, and started my family and my business,” Mr. Ackerman said. “It contains my political base and longtime roots, and I have had the privilege of representing approximately 90% of it during my 34 years in the State Senate and U.S. Congress. Throughout this time, I have been honored to win the overwhelming support of the people Rita and I grew up with, and the people our children grew up with, and the wonderful people who reside in these great and diverse communities. I look forward to continuing to fight for them in Congress for many more years to come.”
One of the interesting twists of the court’s draft proposal for New York’s Congressional lines is the new Asian-plurality district created in Queens, and Democratic Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who had been campaigning against GOP Congressman Bob Turner, just announced he would be likely to shift his focus there should the final boundaries look like the draft map.
“The Special Master’s lines came out today, and while I can’t predict what the final lines will ultimately look like, the Special Master’s district six is centered around my home and communities that I have represented in the Assembly, on the community board and as a civic leader for over twenty years,” he said in a statement this morning.
“I look forward to the opportunity to run for Congress when the lines are finalized,” he added.
Last month, it was reported the Congressional districts of Gary Ackerman and Carolyn McCarthy were going to be joined during the redistricting process and Ms. McCarthy could get the short end of the stick, running in a district that was much closer to Mr. Ackerman’s base than hers.
Now that both the Assembly and the Senate district maps have come out (not that these maps mean very much of course) we can see that, in fact, the reverse was true: The Senate’s version sends Mr. Ackerman mostly into Ms. McCarthy’s district, while the Assembly map divides his district four ways and effectively puts Mr. Ackerman in a majority-minority district.
So what happened?
Over the weekend rumors emerged that Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman would not seek reelection in 2012. In response to these rumors, Mr. Ackerman tweeted, “Republican rumor mill is 100%, Absolutely Wrong. I’m running.” In an interview with Capital New York, he emphatically and repeatedly rejected this speculation as well.
But that’s not enough to convince the National Republican Congressional Committee. The organization sent out a statement this afternoon directly stating Mr. Ackerman will end up retiring.
“The question is not if but when Gary Ackerman is going to retire,” Nathaniel Sillin, the group’s regional press secretary, wrote.
Earlier this morning, Ken Lovett reported one of the two Congressional districts New York State is destined to lose looks likely to be Nassau County Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, resulting in electoral implications across New York State.
Notably, because the seats are eliminated based on relative population loss, this would likely mean Congressman Bob Turner’s nearby Queens-based district is safe. Mr. Turner’s district had long been assumed to be on the chopping block, and Mr. Lovett’s report certainly makes Assemblyman Rory Lancman’s recently announced campaign efforts against Mr. Turner look far less foolhardy.
As The Politicker reported earlier this week, combining Ms. McCarthy’s district with neighboring Congressman Gary Ackerman’s seat makes a certain amount of mathematical sense, as Long Island can only support exactly four Congressional districts while five Representatives currently call the area home.
New York may be losing two Congressional districts this year, but Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who announced his intentions to run for recently-elected Congressman Bob Turner’s district today, told The Politicker he’s confident Mr. Turner’s seat won’t be among them. His sentiments are echoed by Shelly Silver, who said he’d like the district to be kept around, and who, as Assembly Speaker, has as much say on what the final map will look like as anyone.
The conventional wisdom has long been that Mr. Turner’s Queens-based district would be chopped up and handed to the surrounding Representatives. However, if the district is kept largely intact, some of those surrounding seats could easily be significantly impacted.
With relatively anemic growth in Queens and Nassau counties compared to the rest of the state, it could be very difficult to avoid eliminating at least one district in the region. Although there are nine Congressional districts touching either of those two counties, some of them are particularly challenging or impossible to erase.
The two minority-majority districts, belonging to Representatives Nydia Velázquez and Gregory Meeks, are likely protected by federal law (and wouldn’t really be possible to eliminate anyway).
Congressman Gary Ackerman, who could see his Queens and Nassau district lumped together with another seat when New York loses two Congressional Districts this cycle, posted a relatively modest campaign haul this cycle, just $52,000. However, the Congressman does have a solid amount of campaign cash on hand, almost exactly $500,000.
This places him in a relatively decent position should his district be combined with recently elected GOP Congressman Bob Turner. Mr. Turner reported just $72,000 in his campaign account last week.
Yesterday Florida Rep. Allen West said that Nazi propaganda master Joseph Goebbels would be “very proud” of Democrats, after polls showed that Congress was deeply unpopular, but that Republicans generally scored even lower.
“If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat Party because they have an incredible propaganda machine,” Mr. West said. ”I think that you have, and let’s be honest, you know, some of the people in the media are complicit in this, in enabling them to get that type of message out.”