Assembly Members Grace Meng and Rory Lancman, both candidates for an open congressional seat in northeastern Queens, have been taking shots at one another on issues ranging from Social Security to The New York Times endorsement, but the third main candidate in the race, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, has largely been keeping her head down. That changed this morning when her campaign released a video accusing Mr. Lancman of being hypocritical on the issue of independent redistricting.
“Assemblyman Lancman is very eager to attack his opponents, but seems to have forgotten to mind his own backyard,” a high ranking official in Ms. Crowley’s campaign declared. “If he tells a crowd of voters that he supports independent redistricting and always has, but told NY1 four months ago that he had a hand in drawing his own lines, it is a case of pandering at best and lying at worst.”
The State Legislative lines for the 2012 cycle are now set in stone.
Yesterday evening, a judge denied a Democratic request for a preliminary injunction against the redrawn map, which means that there won’t be enough time now for the trial to intervene before primary season begins for the State Senate and State Assembly elections this year.
Legal arguments against the lines based on population variances and other issues will continue, but any impact they have will be for future elections, not this one.
To hear Charlie Rangel tell it, he received his congressional district in 1970 as a birthday present from Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Mr. Rangel described his gift from the governor in a little noticed portion of his 2007 autobiography, And I Haven’t Had a Bad Day Since. It’s an interesting tale to revisit in light of the current race for Mr. Rangel’s seat and the furor over the shape of the district that defined this year’s redistricting process.
It was a summer day and the man who is now the fourth most senior in the the House of Representatives was in his second term as a New York State assemblyman and preparing to make a run for Congress against a powerful incumbent, Adam Clayton Powell. Mr. Rockefeller called Mr. Rangel to an office in the State Capitol building in Albany.
“There were all these guys on the floor poring over a map of the state of New York. They had slide rules and string, and grease pencils and data about the population of the various counties and cities from the recent census,” Mr. Rangel wrote. “They were actually drawing the congressional district reapportionment lines for the 1970 elections.”
Mr. Rockefeller smiled, wished him happy birthday and handed him a pencil.
“I proceeded to draw myself a wicked district in Manhattan,” Mr. Rangel wrote.
The Senate Democrats lost their initial court battle against the Republicans’ redistricting plan where they had argued the map unconstitutionally increased the size of the State Senate to 63 seats by using two different counting methods in different parts of the state.
“Although this court finds disturbing the Legislature’s use of one method for Queens and Nassau Counties and a different method for Richmond and Suffolk Counties, petitioners have not sustained their heavy burden of demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that the Legislature has acted unconstitutionally,” the ruling read at a key moment.
redistricting never ends
Forget state legislative and congressional redistricting this year, groups are now mobilizing to affect the redistricting of the New York City Council for the 2013 races.
Earlier today, the Asian American Community Coalition on Redistricting and Democracy (ACCORD), organized a rally to urge the City Council to appoint a diverse slate to their redistricting commission later this month.
“It’s really about who are these people, do they understand the communities, do they understand the immigrants here,” James Hong, a spokesman for the organization, told The Politicker. “We have no idea what this commission will look like.”
Night of the Living Deals
Governor Andrew Cuomo defended himself against criticism of last week’s night of dealmaking in an appearance on Fred Dicker’s radio show, “Live From The State Capitol” this morning. While critics say the all night Albany negotiations didn’t allow for public input and went against the governor’s promises of transparency and his pledge to veto redistricting lines not drawn through an independent process, the dealmaking also led to the passage of some of his pet projects; pension reform, the expansion of the DNA databank, lifting the ban on casino gambling and teacher evaluations. Overall, Mr. Cuomo described the marathon legislative session as a success and dismissed critiques of the suite of deals that have been described as the “big ugly.”
“Last week, the government worked it performed it passed bills,” Governor Cuomo said.
Cecilia Tkaczyk, a former senior legislative analyst for the New York State Senate, has filed paperwork for the newly created “63rd” State Senate district the Republicans created in the Capitol Region while increasing the overall size of their legislative body.
The Gazette Reporter, which first reported the committee, said Ms. Tkaczyk is a Democrat and a local school board president.
New York Congressman Steve Israel, who heads up the House Democrats’ campaign efforts, made an interesting pitch to NY1′s Errol Louis on Inside City Hall last Friday. He argued the most New York is now in play with the judge’s new congressional redistricting plan.
“Right in New York, as a result of the map the courts have approved, we have races all over the state that will be competitive,” he said, before ticking down a laundry list of newly competitive seats.
Earlier today, good government advocate Bill Samuels took the rhetorical hammer to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s record over his middle-of-the-night compromise legislation on redistricting reform this week.
“I think it’s a historically terrible thing for the history of our state,” he began his interview with The Capitol Pressroom‘s Susan Arbetter.
“To the extent our governor had a chance to be a great governor, when history is written, that opportunity is gone forever,” he continued. “It’s only a question of whether maybe he can go down in history maybe as a mediocre governor.”
exiting stage right
After aggressively campaigning against GOP Congressman Bob Turner only to see his district emerge as one of the two eliminated by the court’s congressional map, Assemblyman Rory Lancman turned his attention to a new Asian-plurality district contained entirely in Queens, which would have set him up against incumbent Congressman Gary Ackerman, who has a long history in the district despite living outside of it.
However, this evening his campaign announced he would forgo a Congressional run this cycle and would be seeking reelection in the State Assembly instead.
“My enthusiasm for running against Republican Bob Turner on a platform of leveling the economic playing field for working people doesn’t extend to running against fellow Democrat Gary Ackerman,” he said in a statement. “Gary Ackerman is a solid progressive … I have enjoyed a great relationship with Gary over the years, from interning in his office when I was a high school student to having his support in all of my campaigns for public office, and I’ll be supporting Gary this year in the new Sixth congressional district.”